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While the majority of your protein sources should come from whole foods like beef, chicken, eggs or dairy, the 30 minutes before a workout is one of those times when a protein shake trumps whole food.
Whey protein, on the other hand, has been shown to get its amino acids to your muscles in 30 minutes. Jim Stoppani holds a doctorate in exercise physiology from the University of Connecticut and has been the personal nutrition and health consultant to numerous celebrity clients, including LL Cool J and Dr.
Who's Online Contributions List Contribution Actions Contribute My Contributions Contribute Arcade What's New? Every once in a while, a hot new supplement comes along and generates a buzz based on a single study that sounds?and often is?too good to be true. In recent years, betaine has become a common ingredient in new pre-workout and post-workout products. If you like to be ahead of the curve, then it's time you get behind the label of your favorite pre-workout and see what this promising supplement can do for you. Betaine got its name because it was originally isolated from sugar beets, known by their Latin name of Beta vulgaris. In all of these plants, betaine serves the same crucial function: protecting the cells from stress, like what happens during droughts or extreme temperatures. The most critical reaction where betaine performs this function is in the methylation of the amino acid homocysteine to form methionine. Betaine may also has the beneficial effect of supporting healthy homocysteine levels.* High homocysteine levels have been shown to impair insulin signaling, which can interfere with muscle growth and fat loss. And finally, betaine supplementation has also been suggested to raise levels of S-adenosylmethionine, also known as SAMe.
In the last few years, clinical studies have looked at betaine supplementation in a number of modalities, from strength, to muscle growth, to endurance and sprinting performance. One of the first studies to look into betaine's performance-supporting effects was done in my old lab at the University of Connecticut in 2010. Since this initial study, other researchers have found that betaine supplementation helped lifters complete more total reps in bench press workouts, pedal with more power in cycling workouts, and sprint for almost 40 seconds longer than subjects drinking just water. And then there's the latest study on betaine, which comes from the College of Springfield in Massachusetts. Previous research also suggests that betaine supplementation increases nitric oxide and helps regulate cellular fluid volume, which could further promote muscle pump and overall muscle size.* Are there any side effects? It's no coincidence that betaine is in pre-workout supplement blends alongside ingredients like creatine, L-citrulline, and beta-alanine. Several of the most promising recent studies focusing on betaine have included it as a pre-workout, either on its own in water or mixed into a drink with elecrolytes and carbs. Given that betaine has been suggested to boost greater levels of muscle protein synthesis and can decrease cortisol levels, it makes sense to put those doses on both ends of your intense training.
So look for products which supply betaine in the form of betaine monohydrate, betaine anhydrous, or simply listed as trimethylglycine (TMG). The bottom line is that betaine can help to take your strength gains and lean mass gains to new levels.
Every month, academic journals publish dozens of new studies about training, nutrition, and athletic performance. Whether it's for a contest, photo shoot, or just a day at the beach, follow these simple steps to a perfect peak every time.
If you noticed those three little letters after my name, it should come as no surprise to you that I think science is cool.
Science allows me to maintain a body weight of 220 pounds and a body-fat level of 5 percent year-round without the use of drugs. Protein sources like cottage cheese, low-fat cheeses, lean deli meats, sardines, anchovies, canned tuna, and chicken, are good sources of sodium.
However, one week before peak day, it's time to really cut carbs in an effort to deplete your body's glycogen levels.
Glucose can be burned for immediate fuel, but it can also be stored in muscles and the liver for later use. The other effect of dropping carbs to nil has on your body is that it depletes your body's glycogen stores. On days 7, 6, and 5 before the peak date, eat only protein and small servings of vegetables (about 1 cup) for meals. Then you can have 20-30 grams of carbs, preferably fast-digesting, such as dextrose (as in Post JYM, Wonka Pixy Stix, Wonka Sweet Tarts, gummy bears, sorbet, or angel food cake0. On days 4 and 3 before peak day, you'll need to drop even the post-workout carbs to fully deplete glycogen levels.
Be sure you are working out, both with weights and cardio every day during days 7 to 3 before the peak day. With carbs nearly absent during the final week, you'll need a solid energy source to power you through workouts. When you're banging out reps, your muscles need ample amounts of energy in the form of ATP to keep contracting. Most people worry about taking creatine when trying to peak, due to potential bloatinga€”which can blur muscle definition.

While creatine monohydrate has been shown to increase water levels outside the muscle (under the skin) as well as inside, creatine hydrochloride (HCL) appears to not draw water under the skin. My own experience with creatine HCL and the thousandsa€”if not millionsa€”of people who have switched from creatine monohydrate to creatine HCL on my advice, suggests this is the case, based on the significantly greater gains in muscle size and strength realized with creatine HCL. Because creatine HCL is better taken up into the muscle, none is left sitting around outside the muscle to cause water retention under the skin. Many protein powders, especially whey protein, contain almost 200 mg of sodium per scoop (about 20 grams of protein). Instead of counting every glass of water you drink, an easy way to make sure you're hitting your 1A? to 2 gallon mark is to buy gallon jugs of water. Since you're now limiting sodium and guzzling water like a fish, you have only a few days before your body adjusts to the low sodium levels and starts to hold more water despite the low sodium intake. To keep dropping body water despite taking in very little water, consider using natural diuretics such as Arctostaphylos uva ursi (bearberry) and Taraxacum officianale (dandelion).
Two days before the peak date it's time to restock, er, overstock your muscle glycogen levels.
As I explained earlier under Step 2, going for several days on little-to-no carbs depletes muscle glycogen levels. Since glycogen pulls water into the muscles, this works to fill up your muscles like water balloons, not only helping you to look bigger but also helping you get more shredded. Carbs can come from fast-digesting sources, such as fat-free candy and white potatoes; or from slower-digesting sources such as sweet potatoes or yams. Remember, you are limiting water intake and these carb sources are made with water, which these carbs absorb. You'll be getting sodium from your protein sources, so be sure that your carb sources are not a source of unwanted sodium. This is another reason why I recommend that you stick with Wonka Pixy Stix and Wonka Sweet Tarts. Research has shown that a small meal -- preferably 20 grams of whey protein, plus 20-to-40 grams of slow-burning carbs, like fruit -- taken right before training (15 to 30 minutes) will enhance energy for the workout and aid post-workout recovery and growth. To be of any benefit during the workout, the protein you consume should actually get to your muscles during the workout. This is one of the main reasons why I always recommend a whey protein shake before every workout. And then there are the supplements that gradually build up a solid body of research without much hype.
It has also been used as a supplement in animal feeds for decades, in order to make pigs, chickens, and salmon healthier and more resilient.
People have taken it to aid in joint and liver repair, injury recovery, and healthy inflammation levels.* In some studies, betaine was even been found to support healthy cholesterol levels.* What does it do? A methyl donor is any molecule that can transfer a methyl group, which is a carbon atom attached to three hydrogen atoms, to another molecule.
Having healthy levels of SAMe may support positive mood, promote liver health, and aid joint recovery.* Betaine supplementation may support positive mood, promote liver health, and aid joint recovery.* What are the Performance and Physique Applications? Like the similar-sounding beta-alanine, it has also been suggested to significantly lower levels of lactate, which can delay muscular fatigue and allow athletes to train harder, for longer.* Researchers have found that betaine supplementation helped lifters complete more total reps in bench press workouts.
Weight-trained males followed an undulating periodized weight-training program for six weeks.
Either add betaine to your current pre- and post-workout stack, or look for a blend that includes it. However, research does confirm that supplementing with extra betaine provides distinct health and performance benefits. It may not have the name-recognition of a classic supplement like creatine yet, but its star is definitely is on the rise. If you or a loved one hasn't gotten on the wagon, test your skepticism with these four well-researched nutraceuticals! I rely on science when I need to drop my body fat to under 5 percent and squeeze out every ounce of muscle-blurring water from under my skin to get that ultra-ripped look. But after maintaining high sodium levels for several days, your body will adapt and end up holding about the same amount of water as when your sodium intake was low. While there's no precise daily dose of sodium to hit, shoot for at least 3,000-4,000 milligrams per day. Glycogen stored in muscle holds water; it literally pulls water into the muscle, filling it up much like a water balloon.
The only time you'll be allowed real carbs is immediately after workouts with your post-workout protein shake. It's also a good idea to do a whole-body workout, using high reps (15-20) and minimal rest (30-60 seconds) between sets on day 3 before the peak day. One study found that subjects taking creatine HCL absorbed significantly more creatine into their bloodstream than when they took monohydrate. Now that your body water levels have adjusted to a higher sodium intake of several grams per day, dropping sodium levels to just hundreds of milligrams will purge all the excess water from your body.
Meats, such as chicken breast, beef, and fish, provide about 60-80 mg of sodium per 3 ounces.

Stick with protein powders with fewer than 100 mg of sodium per scoop, such as Dymatize's Elite Casein (35 mg per scoop) and Gourmet Protein (75 mg per scoop).
This will flush out any remaining sodium in your body, making all that water you're drinking work to rid your body of excess water. I find that drinking water from larger containers also makes it much easier to consume so much water. As I mentioned, the amount of water your body holds is closely related to the amount of sodium your body holds. To avoid this, you will need to sharply cut back on water the last two days before the peak day. If you experience severe headaches, dizziness, nausea, weakness, servere muscle cramps, or your urine color turns a brown or greenish brown, start drinking more water immediately.
You not only want to look as shredded as possible on the peak day, but you also want to look as big and as muscular as possible. And that allows your muscles to store significantly more glycogen than they normally could. So by carb loading in these last few days, you're not only helping your body to look bigger and fuller but also helping your body get that ultra-shredded look.
During the first day of carb loading, your liver and muscles are not stocked up with glycogen, so any fructose you consume will be converted to glucose.
Most candy companies use sugar (which is half glucose and half fructose), or high fructose corn syrup, which has even more fructose. If you eat steak, or fish, or eggs, or chicken, the protein will take far too long to digest to offer you any benefit during the actual workout.
The other reasons include the fact that whey is rich in the BCAAs, and it can help to boost blood flow to muscles.
Get out and hit 15-30 minutes of HIIT cardio today, or perform 30-60 minutes of your favorite activity: hiking, biking, walking, playing a sport, etc. One group supplemented with 1.25 grams of betaine twice per day and one group supplemented with a placebo twice per day.
This is one good reason to split your intake into two smaller daily doses, as several of the recent studies have done.
However, your body will only hold so much water, regardless of how much sodium you consume. Whether it's the starch from bread and potatoes or the sugars in fruits and candies, your body converts these carbs into glucose. The more glycogen you store in your muscles, the more water is pulled in and the bigger your muscles blow up.
Research has discovered that When you deplete muscle glycogen levels and then carb load, your muscles are able to store significantly more glycogen than normal.
While the water that creatine pulls inside the muscles is a good thing for keeping muscles full, any creatine sitting outside the muscles will pull more water there, too. Althought the study did not measure creatine uptake into the muscle fibers, it's likely that creatine HCL also gets taken up into muscle cells better than creatine monohydrate. I take 2 grams of creatine HCL before and after every workout via Pre JYM and Post JYM, during the final week before my peak day. That's the same amount of sodium in 3 oz of chicken or beef, which provide 20 or more grams of protein. Besides potatoes (be sure to bake them and not boil them), good dry and sodium-free carbs include Wonka Pixy Stix, Wonka Sweet Tarts, certain flavors of Bear Naked Granola, and air-popped popcorn that you make yourself. But on the second day of carb loading, there's a bigger risk of converting fructose into fat since the liver becomes stocked with glycogen. Yet Wonka Pixy Stix are pure dextrose (glucose) and Sweet Tarts are made with just dextrose and maltodextrin (which is simply a chain of glucose molecules attached together.
Only now, researchers are showing how powerful of an ally it can be for athletic performance and body composition. They reported that the subjects supplementing with betaine increased muscle mass by 4 pounds and arm size by 10 percent, all while decreasing body fat by 7 pounds.* The placebo group experienced no increase in muscle mass or arm size and no loss of body fat.
This further supports the notion that you should supplement with betaine daily, and not only before working out. Or maybe you're going on a beach vacation and want to look ripped when you shed your clothes. Few people realize that creatine's main function in the muscle is as a quick source of energy.
And that leads to more water being retained under the skin, which can lead to a bloated, water-retained look. However, read the labels on the meats you're purchasing to make sure no sodium or saline is added.

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