Taking Advantage of Elevated Hormone Levels

It’s not surprising to hear an athlete’s nutrition shop like NUTRISHOP discuss the benefits of supplements, but we will be the first to acknowledge that products alone will not get you results.

Training and diet are always going to be the top dogs when it comes to reaching fitness goals, and they always should tie in to the supplements you’re taking — in other words, you want to both maximize the effects of what you are spending your hard-earned money on, while also taking full advantage of it.

To that end, there are certainly dietary and training tips to be mindful of when choosing the AGF-X stack in order to boost the body’s natural growth hormone production levels for strength, muscle mass and power. You’re presumably interested in 1-XD and 1-XPM because you want to grow — you need to also train and eat to accommodate that goal.

As your natural hormone production is elevated, with both the testosterone boost from 1-XD and the increased promotion of GH achieved with better deep sleep cycles from 1-XPM, the body should undergo subtle physical changes — namely, increased strength, fat loss and muscle gain. If you’ve added Augment or Arabol to this stack, you’ve obviously gone the route of adding muscle mass, too. It’s an optimal time to take advantage of those changes, both with your activity in the gym and in the kitchen.

Ramp up the intensity with your workouts, preferably with more weight. We’d recommend a 3-to-4-week period of really focusing on power lifts, heavy compound movements like squats and deadlifts, and minimal single-joint training. Research suggests multi-muscle activation, even at lower rep ranges, is much more beneficial to explosive power than mid- or  high-range reps at lighter weight. And since you’ve got the supplements to help promote strength and muscle mass, it seems to make sense that bolstering your training in the same direction would help more than, say, investing in a mass-building product while zooming along on the treadmill and then hitting some light “toning” work.

Likewise, heavy lifting pairs well with heavy eating (calm down; this doesn’t mean alfredo sauce and melted cheese). A high-protein, high-calorie diet is made to order here — intense exercise forces the metabolism to speed up, and with heavy training, the effects last long after the workout, thus increasing the rate of protein synthesis. That, in turn, directly affects how quickly and completely the muscles are repaired and rebuilt after your intense, heavy workouts have broken down the fibers. The body’s muscles do not know the difference between rep ranges, weight, etc. — but they do respond to high tension, whether it’s achieved through heavier weight or through fatigue achieved from higher reps. That response, at least in the rebuilding and recovery stages, is to better equip it for that same stimulus of tension, but it cannot do so without plentiful and proper nutrition.

That means a high-protein diet, with plenty of quality calories from other food sources, too — healthy fats, plentiful vegetables and sensible, slow-burning carbohydrates should all be part of a muscle-building, strength-gaining meal plan. If you aren’t sure what that looks like, remember: NUTRISHOP always does meal plans for FREE for all customers.

It’s one thing to pick up the products and hope to see results, but it’s wisest to put in the right kind of work in the weight room and with one’s diet, too.

Build a Big-Time Anabolic Stack with 1-XPM

The ideal muscle mass stack: 1-XPM, AUGMENT and 1-XD. Conveniently, 1-XD and 1-XPM now come together as a pre-packaged stack: AGF-X, the growth factor stack! Combine it with AUGMENT for insane results!

With the introduction of 1-XPM, you’ve got a brand-new nighttime anabolic agent that has testosterone production covered during the critical time of day it needs most — your sleep. But its effectiveness can be improved upon even further, creating a 24-hour testosterone-producing cycle, that will build maximum muscle and burn fat around the clock.

AUGMENT‘s claim to fame is the inclusion of arachidonic acid. Arachidonic acid (AA) is clinically proven to be safe and effective in university studies as an accelerator of fast-twitch muscle fiber growth; it was given a U.S. patent for increasing skeletal muscle mass in humans. It’s an essential acid from the Omega-6 group, stored in the muscles and released during exercise. It serves mostly as a regulator of protein synthesis and also can increase sensitivity to naturally created anabolic hormones like testosterone, growth hormone and insulin.

A 2006 placebo-controlled study from the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that those supplementing with AA experienced a 600-percent (!) increase in muscle power and 44-percent gains in one-rep max for bench press, a 223-percent boost in muscle power and a 250-percent gain in muscle endurance over the course of 50 days.

Meanwhile, 1-XD relies on D-aspartic acid (DAA), another proven testosterone-boosting compound. In 2009, a group of Italian physicians and researchers published a peer-reviewed study in“Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology” journal examining the effects of DAA, an amino acid present in humans naturally. What they found was incredible: In males, DAA provides up to a 42-percent increase in testosterone in just 12 days, compared to a placebo group, and that it also increased luteinizing hormone (LH), also found in the body and that is responsible for triggering testosterone production:

 Here we demonstrated that D-aspartic acid, which occurs as a physiological compound in the mammalian pituitary and testis, has a role in the regulation of the release and synthesis of LH and testosterone.

The takeaway from all this is obvious: The stacking of these three natural testosterone-boosting supplements together can lead to maximum muscle growth and strength gains, with three big-time proven compounds: D-aspartic acid, arachidonic acid and the zinc, magnesium aspartate and B-6 combination found in 1-XPM.

If you’re ready to experience a body primed for growth and increase in muscle mass, look no further than AFG-X and AUGMENT — a perfect combination for power, size and vitality!

The Importance of Meal Timing

What you eat is a crucial part of how effective your nutrition will be in helping you achieve your fitness goals. But did you know when you eat might be even more important?

Bodybuilding season is here and potential competitors will be trying to ramp up their diets for the final stages of their transformations — if this is you, be sure to get in touch with Toby at NUTRISHOP for some contest prep! Diets have to be on-point, with every calorie serving a purpose, and every meal timed for the maximum benefit.

But even if you’re not doing a bodybuilding or figure show, you can apply proper food timing to your own diet and see the results. This week we’re going to break down the importance of each meal — breakfast, snacks, pre- and post-workout meals, lunch, dinner and pre-sleep — and show why each one requires more thought than just grabbing the first thing you see when you crack open the fridge.

Follow this blog throughout the week as we update it!

First up, the “most important meal of the day”: Breakfast. Your body has been deprived of nutrients and water for 7-8 hours. Your blood sugar is likely at its lowest point throughout an entire 24-hour cycle, meaning your metabolism is turning to alternate sources for energy — its preference is muscle tissue over body fat. And your muscles have gone 1/3 of the day without any protein or amino acids, depleting the body’s supply while you slept for recovery.

And yet, how many people wake up and simply cram some coffee and a bagel, or even worse, skip breakfast entirely?

Breakfast needs to serve two purposes: Refueling and pre-fueling. You need a high-quality protein source to replenish the body’s nitrogen stores for muscle-building and recovery, and for fighting catabolism, and a slow-burning carbohydrate to provide lasting energy for the day. Even a bit of simple sugar is beneficial in the morning, when consumed with protein, for the anabolic insulin spike it can provide. This is why an ideal breakfast would be 5-6 eggs, with two being whites only, a bowl of oatmeal (no pre-packaged stuff — it’s loaded with artificial flavorings and sugar) and a handful of berries with a glass of milk.  Add a vegetable for even more balance in this meal — some spinach in an omelet, for example.

The “when” here is important — it is literally as soon as possible after waking. To help cover the gap between cooking and consuming, go with a quick BCAA drink as soon as you wake up, then have breakfast.

Snacks: Don’t misread this as “junk food” — small mini-meals throughout the day between your larger meals are a great way to keep yourself anabolic and maintain a steady nutrient supply. Many people think of snacks as chips, candy or other sweets, all poor choices for one trying to lose body fat (i.e., a bodybuilding competitor!) because they discourage the metabolism’s use of it for energy.

About every three hours, you should be trying to eat something — possibly more, depending on your goals — and it should always have some protein with it. A great option is a couple of string cheeses, a handful of almonds or walnuts, a few slices of high-quality lunch meat or, for extreme convenience, a protein shake. The idea is to keep your body out of its “fat-saving” starvation mode by not letting it assume it’s going hungry. When it does that, it clings to body fat like a life preserver, because it is the slowest-burning energy it can get.

Generally, you also want to stay away from carb-heavy foods for snacks, especially if you have had them for breakfast. Eating oatmeal early in the day is great, because it provides slow-burning energy that will last, but you defeat the purpose when you eat a faster-burning carb (even a healthy one, like a piece of fruit) before lunch.

Ideally, a snack would have both protein, fiber and some healthy fat — again, almonds fit in perfectly to that profile, all in one food. You can also mix and match: A protein shake with some peanut butter and ground flax seed; a serving of black beans; some cottage cheese and some low-glycemic berries like raspberries or blueberries; even beef jerky is a surprisingly adequate protein source between meals.

Pre- and Post-Workout Eating: These two meal timing windows are arguably the most critical ones (aside from breakfast) you’ll account for during the day if you are trying to build muscle and lose body fat.

Under the stress and exhaustive energy use of a workout, your body undergoes dramatic changes as it seeks more energy sources. It burns through its preferred source, sugars, very quickly, then taps into slow-burning carbs, before it starts to target fat. And as you exercise, especially with resistance training, microscopic tears in the muscle fibers start the muscle-building process — only if those fibers are repaired and grow stronger. How you fuel with food before and after your workouts plays a huge role in determining your results.

Pre-workout, your goals will shape what your meal plans look like. If you are trying to burn body fat, you want as few calories (a unit of energy) as possible, to force your body to look within its own tissues for energy instead. To that end, a pre-workout BCAA shake is an excellent option; if you are actually hungry, a small high-protein snack is recommended (a half protein shake, for example). Steer clear of carbohydrates — they will serve only as a buffer protecting the fat cells you’re trying to burn.

If you are trying to add some mass, you want to overload the muscles with nutrients, protein and calories, so there is the most rapid recovery possible. A pre-workout Mass Fuzion shake with BCAAs or protein, or Gainer7, is a surefire way to make sure there’s plenty of quality calories providing for the muscles as you tear them down with your workout.

The post-workout window is more or less similar, regardless of goal: No more than 15-20 minutes after your workout, you should consume at least 30 grams of high-quality protein (whey shake, lean chicken, etc.), plenty of water and, ideally, a glutamine or BCAA supplement for optimum recovery. Extra calories and carbohydrates are recommended if mass gain is your goal — a good carb source, like a yam or oatmeal, is recommended on top of a small amount of another high-glycemic sugar, like a couple tablespoons of honey or a half cup of white rice. Alternately, a gainer shake addresses all those caloric needs.

Midday meals: Lunch, brunch, whatever you call it — it should serve a purpose beyond just eating with your coworkers or friends. When you stop thinking of food as socializing and start considering it as fuel, that’s when you make great diet choices! Assuming you’ve followed all our advice through this blog up to this point, you should be getting enough early-morning and post-workout carbohydrates to give you slow-burning energy throughout the day, so a carb-heavy lunch is not beneficial (unless you are trying to add serious muscle mass fast).

Pasta, pizza, sandwiches and other carbs are popular lunch choices, but not always the best ones. Whole wheat or brown rice options improve them a bit, but it’s missing the point — if you’re trying to drop body fat, you want to make your metabolism search for different energy sources within your body instead of constantly providing it easily accessible carbs to burn.

That said, a protein, fat and vegetable should form the foundation of your lunch — a spinach or mixed-greens  salad mixed with a can of tuna and a Balsamic vinaigrette;  some chopped chicken breast with black beans, cheese and salsa; etc. What you eat specifically is up to you — just remember to get a clean protein source, a healthy fat and, if at all possible, vegetables.

If you are trying to put on weight, your rules are less stringent — sandwiches are perfectly convenient sources of calories, but we still warn to stay away from white breads. Go for 100 percent whole wheat, or, even better, Ezekiel-brand natural breads — the closer to natural form, the better. Load it up with cold cuts, cheese (Swiss has the most protein) and some veggies, but steer clear from condiments like mayonnaise. Even a PBJ, assuming you use natural peanut butter (ingredients are just peanuts and salt) and pure-fruit jelly on whole wheat, is a suitable option when paired with a protein shake or a few hard-boiled eggs.

Evening Eating:Your carbs should taper down toward the end of the day if you’re trying to burn body fat, so ideally at dinner time you’d skip the traditional potato, pasta or bread dish and just sub in another vegetable. Those trying to gain weight can still include a slow-burning carbohydrate — yams are perfect, but brown rice or quinoa are fine too — but still, you should try to stay away from white potatoes or breads.

Your main course should always be a lean protein source, whether it’s a lean cut of beef, chicken, fish, bison or, if you don’t eat meat, beans and legumes. Pair this with a side of vegetables, or even two. It’s important to get enough fiber and protein in your late meals, because you are preparing for an eight-hour fast. Consistent meal planning can even help establish more consistent sleep patterns, as your body acclimates to a schedule.

Late-night snacks are hard to avoid, too. Often, we want to spring for desserts, and once in a while (once a week as a cheat, perhaps) is permissible. Just don’t get into the habit of having ice cream or cake EVERY night. Instead, before you go to sleep, try a half cup of cottage cheese with some pure-fruit jam, or some string cheese with some grapes. Dairy proteins are slower-absorbing and perfect before bed, and provide a “slow protein drip” of sorts to the body as you sleep.

Dietary Fats, Fat Burners and Fat Loss

We’ve talked all week about the importance of healthy dietary fats — even for those trying to lose body fat. Well, with a good lipid replacement supplement AND a stimulant-based fat-burner, you can get the important fatty acids your body needs and shred body fat simultaneously.

Because they’re two different products after the same end result — fat loss — you can definitely stack HYPERCOR and LIPOCOR. With the first being a thermostimulating fat-burner and the second being a natural lipid replacement system, there is no overlap and no danger of overdoing the effects of HYPERCOR (this is why we don’t recommend stacking two like fat burners). The difference is in how they work, and we’ll show you why you can combine both effects.

The raspberry ketones in HYPERCOR help raise the body’s temperature by releasing norepinephrine and also limits the amount of available blood sugar by signaling the release of adiponectin. What this does is 1) create a warmer internal temperature that encourages fat melting and 2) limits the available blood sugar that is most raspberry ketones come in to play.

With that in mind, as your body creates this environment for the actual removal and prevention of adipose tissue, the GLA in LIPOCOR — along with the other healthy fatty acids like Omega-3, Omega-6, ALA and LA — work to encourage your body further to let its unhealthy fat stores dissolve. GLA’s primary reason for its renown is that it drastically decreases inflammation in cells, particularly in adipose cells. This is our old “water balloon” example: Once it’s created, the balloon (fat cell) will always be there. But GLA helps let the water (fat) in the cell out, thus shrinking it. And with the body’s temperature in a more fat-burning zone because of the raspberry ketones, the unhealthy fat that is released is burned off rather than restored.

Hundreds of NUTRISHOP Chico customers have seen firsthand how GLA and raspberry ketones can work together in LIPOCOR and HYPERCOR. If you’re trying to get ready for the summer and warm weather ASAP, you should check out this stack as well and see if it’s right for you.

The Only “No-Fat” Diet Plan You Need

Low-fat and no-fat is a bad idea. Your body needs fats for multiple purposes, including lowering bad cholesterol, raising the good kind, and improving the health and vitality of many organs and functions in the body.

However, today is meant to show you the kind of fat you can feel comfortable crossing off your list, forever: trans fats.

Trans fat is made by injecting hydrogen into natural oils, usually vegetable oil, through hydrogenation, in order to increase shelf life (because the longer something lasts before spoiling, the more it can sell).

This chemical reformatting of a perfectly good food product comes with a cost: It increases your cholesterol more than regular food fats do.  The Mayo Clinic says scientists are led to believe that adding hydrogen to oil makes the oil more difficult to digest, and the body recognizes trans fats as saturated fats. (Source)

So, why’s it so dangerous? In short, trans fat has a double-negative effect on the body’s cholesterol levels, raising the bad (LDL) and lowering the good (HDL). Out-of-balance cholesterol levels can lead to heart disease, which has long been identified as the No. 1 killer of Americans.

Trans fats can be tough to avoid, too, because they are often hidden in items you wouldn’t suspect. Most store-bought nacho cheese seems like a dead giveaway, and it is in there, but the big culprit is commercial baked goods — cupcakes, muffins, cakes, crackers, chips, etc. Because trans fat is less greasy than its natural counterparts (oil is oily, fat is greasy — this is how natural fat looks), it is appealing to food manufacturers to include in these products. And, because of an FDA loophole that allows anything less than .5 a gram of trans fats to be included as “0 grams” on the nutrition facts label (Source), people often scarf them down without even knowing it.

By paying close attention to ingredient labels, though, you can be clued in to where trans fats lie. The key words “partially hydrogenated” oils are red flags; though fully hydrogenated oils actually do not contain trans fats. If a label simply says “hydrogenated vegetable (or any other type of) oil”, it is safest to assume it is partially hydrogenated and therefore contains trans fat. And then, of course, there is food that has no label — restaurant food. The Mayo Clinic estimates that, because some of the oils that restaurants use for fried foods contains trans fat,  a serving of French fries may contain up to five grams of it. And, considering their nasty attributes, that’s a lot.

The American Heart Association recommends that no more than 1 percent of a person’s daily calorie intake come from trans fat (there is no daily value established for them by the FDA). For most people, that works out to about two grams, at most, a day. Because there are actually trace amounts of trans fats produced naturally in meats and dairy products — scant in comparison to manufacturer-produced foods, though — this guideline insinuates rather clearly that commercial treats containing trans fats are to be avoided.

Why the Body Needs Fat to Lose Fat

Losing weight is tough enough without your body stubbornly refusing to say goodbye to those unwanted fat stores.

Unfortunately, your brain thinks it needs the fat you have, even if you’ve been dieting yourself down to a manageable weight level. You’ve cut the simple sugars and the calories and done the work in the gym to slim down, and that’s great — but your body remembers different days, when it needed that insurance fat to use as energy. When you hear “stubborn fat,” this is what it’s generally referring to: that last bit of unwanted adipose tissue that is tough to burn off, no matter what diet and exercise are telling your body.

This often is due to several factors, mostly including too many calories and the body’s inability to fully burn off fat as energy, instead saving it and opting to burn muscle or carbohydrates first.

But, as we discussed yesterday, the body needs fat for many reasons — including to burn body fat.  LIPOCOR Toning Gels are available at NUTRISHOP and are touted as one of the best healthy lipid blends available. LIPOCOR is a comprehensive formula of essential fatty acids based on natural oils from fish (for EPA and DHA) and flaxseed oil (for ALA and LA), mainly. Healthy fats in your diet are outstanding for your overall health and have a major impact on fat-loss capabilities.

Where LIPOCOR differs from other essential fatty acid products is that it also promotes muscle toning — the byproduct of this very well could be a decrease in body fat, since more muscle on the body’s frame means a faster metabolism. The faster the body’s metabolism works, the quicker it burns through carbs — and then it can start to focus on torching those final five pounds. LIPOCOR’s muscular support formula comes from lipids that occur in meat and dairy products naturally.

LIPOCOR also supports muscle recovery with L-Carnitine, which has been shown in a 2002 study to have a “significant antioxidant effect,” along with its more commonly known benefit of being a catalyst for fatty acid oxidation — meaning it helps your body turn to fatty acids for energy faster. LIPOCOR also functions as an appetite suppressant, making it easier to create the needed calorie deficit for fat-burning.

Again, the benefits of essential fatty acids (EFAs) are many and important:

  • Improved skin, hair and organ function
  • Decreased levels of body fat and bad cholesterol
  • Decreased risk of heart attack, heart disease and other cardiac issues, including high blood pressure
  • Reduced swelling and pain in joints and tendons

And those are just the main ones. While another NUTRISHOP’s fish oil product, OMEGA-3 by PNR, is a giant, heart-healthy dose of the omega-3 acids you need, there is still room to improve the quality (and quantity) of healthy fat you can consume without taking in the calories that usually come with it.

Nu-Tek’s NATURE’S EFA, highlighted on the NUTRISHOP blog before because of its outstanding DHA and EPA profile, as well as other sources of natural fats, serve as a terrific complement to OMEGA-3 when it comes to covering all the bases. With the correct fatty acids in your system, your body can function at optimal levels without the caloric intake that would definitely defeat the purpose — and not many people can honestly stomach that much fish anyway.

Almost every well-rounded “healthy” diet can find some room for improvement, and usually closer inspection will show that dieters have been told to limit their fats. Wrong! When you take in the RIGHT kinds of fats, like OMEGA-3 and NATURE’S EFA, your diet takes one more step toward that ultimate goal for almost everybody: Being HEALTHY.

The Fat Fallacy

For 60 years, Americans have been living a lie — or at least believing one. It’s been an untruth that has spawned a spike in obesity, heart disease, diabetes and metabolic syndrome nation-wide; it’s been evident by the products in our grocery stores and on our dinner plates.

It’s the idea that eating fat makes you fat. It’s not true. But we’ve been eating it up — along with mass carbohydrates — since the idea was introduced in the 1950s.

The anti-fat stance has softened in the last decade, as more and more information becomes available and it’s clear that the “base of the food pyramid” thinking about carbohydrates has been grossly misleading. Still, many “low-fat” and “nonfat” food products make millions in profit every year by gullible consumers who don’t know any better. We’re told, even today, that fats make us fat, when in truth they are essential to the health of our skin, nails, hair and reproductive system and play a vital role in determining our cholesterol levels, both good and bad. A 2002 article from the New York Times breaks down just how uninformed we can be on the subject of dietary fat:

… even saturated fats — a k a, the bad fats — are not nearly as deleterious as you would think. True, they will elevate your bad cholesterol, but they will also elevate your good cholesterol. In other words, it’s a virtual wash. As Willett explained to me, you will gain little to no health benefit by giving up milk, butter and cheese and eating bagels instead.

But it gets even weirder than that. Foods considered more or less deadly under the low-fat dogma turn out to be comparatively benign if you actually look at their fat content. More than two-thirds of the fat in a porterhouse steak, for instance, will definitively improve your cholesterol profile (at least in comparison with the baked potato next to it); it’s true that the remainder will raise your L.D.L., the bad stuff, but it will also boost your H.D.L. The same is true for lard. If you work out the numbers, you come to the surreal conclusion that you can eat lard straight from the can and conceivably reduce your risk of heart disease. (Source)

Furthermore, some fats are just plain necessary, not just “OK” for you. Plant fats can have anti-cancer properties — olive oil, flax seed oil, nuts, seeds, coconut, avocado, for instance — and should be eaten regularly. Plus, many vitamin-rich foods often go wasted in low-fat diets, because the nutrients in them are actually fat-soluble, meaning they need fats as an absorption vessel within the body.

Are there fats to avoid? Yes, but it’s not complicated. Basically, if it’s not from a natural food, steer clear. Nacho cheese — not a natural food. Same goes for most everything in a wrapper. But even a Snickers bar, loaded with fat itself, isn’t a villain because of this, but rather because of the refined sugars that it’s loaded with. Trans fats (the kind found in our aforementioned nacho cheese, for example) are 100-percent to be avoided, and can be spotted under the friendly ingredient named “hydrogenated oils,” or any variant of it. It’s neat science, sure — they take perfectly healthy fatty oils, but to make them solid and extend shelf life, “food” producers go through amazing amounts of refining. The process, detailed below in a Natural News article, explains it:

Hydrogenated oils are oils that are often healthy in their natural state, but are quickly turned into poisons through the manufacturing and processing they undergo. They take these naturally healthy oils such as palm, kernel, soybean, corn oil or coconut oil and they heat it anywhere from five hundred to one thousand degrees under several atmospheres of pressure.

They then inject a catalyst into the oil for several hours. The catalyst is typically a metal such a nickel, platinum or even aluminum. As this bubbles up into the oil the molecular structure changes and increases in density and rearranges it’s molecules so that instead of a liquid at room temperature we now have either semi-solid or solid oil. This creates either partially hydrogenated or fully hydrogenated oils.

The molecules in this new product are now closer to cellulose or plastic than to oil. In fact hydrogenated oil is only one molecule away from being plastic. When you eat anything containing this material, just as the oil is now thicker and more viscous (dense), so too does your blood become thicker and more viscous right along with it. The heart now has to work so much harder to pump blood throughout the system. This is one of the major ways that consuming hydrogenated oils contributes to high blood pressure.  (Source)

It’s scary stuff, right? Throughout this week, NUTRISHOP’s focus will be on healthy fats, where to get them and why you should stop villainizing what should be a healthy, vital part of our diets. We’ve got a couple pro-healthy fat products that can fill in the gaps you may have, too. And, of course, we can always put together a FREE meal plan for any customer that walks through our doors, to make sure you’re getting the nutrition you should be getting.