Science Agrees: BCAAs Are Awesome

FO_BCAAsport_WatermelonAs experts in the supplement industry, we are intimately familiar with concerns and questions customers and the paying public may have about products.

Do they work? (To wildly varying degrees, yes – buy the good ones.) Are they safe? (Buy from reputable vendors like Nutrishop, and they couldn’t be safer – we don’t hesitate to yank inferior products off our shelves.) What exactly do they do?

We like to turn to science and study when it comes to answering all of those questions. ln recent years, what’s come to light specifically about one certain supplement is extremely encouraging. Not only do BCAAs stand up as an excellent product for fat loss and muscle gain in non-biased, scientific review, but they routinely make regular customers’ shopping lists each time they visit us. A lot of products will come and go – only the best ones stick around when the hype wears off and results are all that’s left. And at the end of the day, BCAAs are always left standing.

What makes Branched Chain Amino Acids such an effective supplement? For starters, BCAAs are incredibly versatile.  Typically, supplements can reasonably claim to address one or two goals – strength, muscle mass, fat loss, or athletic performance. BCAAs can help with all of them. 

A randomized, double-blind study, published in the Journal of International Society of Sports Nutrition, was performed to “evaluate the efficacy of consuming a supplement containing branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) during an eight-week resistance-training program.”  The conclusion:

Ingestion of a supplement containing BCAAs while following an 8-week resistance training program resulted in a greater decrease in percent body fat, an increase in lean mass, and 10-RM strength gains on the bench press and squat vs. ingestion of a whey supplement or a sports drink. In addition, the ingestion of a whey protein supplement resulted in greater lean mass gains than ingestion of a sports drink.

What does that mean? In short: Regular use of BCAAs as a supplement to your diet and training program make you leaner and stronger. Less fat, more muscle, more strength.

Benefits don’t stop there. In 2006, The Journal of Nutrition published a study that found BCAAs to play a role in reducing exercise fatigue – meaning that if you took BCAAs before and/or during your workouts, you could go more intensely, or longer, to get more out of your exercise. The same study found that “Branched-chain amino acids also positively influence the metabolic response of muscle to exercise.”

Translation: BCAAs slow your metabolism’s feast on your muscle tissue when you’re working out.

Even when you’re not training, though, BCAAs have the same effect. So if you’re taking a break, trying out anabolic fasting diets, going on vacation or suffering an injury that keeps you out of the gym, knocking back BCAAs regularly will help slow the muscle catabolism (your body using muscle for energy) or atrophy that would otherwise occur. That phenomenon was proven out in a study published in Nutrition Research in 2012.

It’s not snake oil, folks.

For years, the most-researched and trusted supplements in this industry were whey protein and creatine. Doubters cropped up all over the place at first, but as the scientific method consistently proved them wrong, these products clearly developed staying power. Well, it’s time to add BCAAs to that list. Study after study is showing that amino acids are not only just an emerging powerhouse supplement, but a must-have for all ranges of athletic ability – from elite athletes to first-day beginners.

Burn Fat, Build Muscle — Even With Holiday Eating!

Two things usually wreak havoc on our bodies during the holiday season, starting with Halloween and trudging forward into New Year’s Day: Delicious but unhealthy eating, and skipped workouts.

Something about this time of year brings out the sweets and we all seem to indulge, and when it’s time to spend quality time with your family, few people want to forgo that for a few sweaty hours in the gym. While willpower will play a role in fighting off the fat gain and muscle loss that’s sure to come with these two developments, we have a suggestion that can keep you from going catabolic during times of higher-than-normal inactivity.

Remember, your body wants to be as efficient as possible, and to keep on muscle is, calorically speaking, very inefficient — it costs a lot of energy (calories) to preserve muscle tissue, so to keep energy stored, the body will actually break down muscle tissue into glycogen, and possibly even store it for later — AS FAT. Obviously, this is not what you want!

The way to avoid this is with BCAAs (branched-chain amino acids), and NUTRISHOP has several outstanding options from which to choose. BCAAs provide the building blocks of proteins that your body breaks down muscle to reach, giving a “buffer” between your metabolism and your muscles that will slow catabolism and help your muscles grow. How much depends on how diligent you are with your training during the holidays; if you are dedicated and stick with your workouts, your muscles will be under repair more frequently and will use BCAAs to build more, forcing your body to use fat as energy (and that, of course, is how we lose body fat!).

Even if you’re more inactive than normal, or if you’re drinking more than you normally do — a common occurrence around the holidays — BCAAs will help. Taken after waking up and before bedtime, they’ll help fight off catabolism before and after long periods of glycogen deficiency during sleep. And since BCAAs are metabolized in the muscles and not the liver, the heavy-duty responsibilities you’re putting on your digestive system with every egg nog won’t interfere with BCAAs’ muscle repair abilities, mitigating the damage you might be doing to your physique.

If the holidays have a way of knocking you out of your routine, we strongly recommend BCAAs to help you keep the muscle you’ve worked so hard for during the last 10 months, and not lose it because of the junk food floating around for two.

More Natural, Vegan-Friendly: Trailhead Modern Source Protein is Here!

As the nutrition and supplementation industries continue to evolve, more and more fitness enthusiasts are considering vegetarian or vegan diets. While there are some interesting points to consider about making such a change, one thing is obvious: Traditionally produced whey protein products — key staples in the diets of bodybuilders, lifters and protein-conscious dieters — don’t fit the vegan lifestyle. Whey, obviously, counts as an animal byproduct.

This is why we’re happy to announce that we’re now carrying a great-tasting vegan protein with no artificial sweeteners, no gluten, no GMOs, no artificial colors, no artificial flavors and no allergens! Let us introduce Trailhead Nutrition Modern Source Protein.

This is a huge win for us, and for anyone who wants to go in a more “natural” direction with their diet. If you have been taking expensive veggie proteins like RAW, than you need to try this! It comes in Vanilla and Chocolate, and actually tastes good!

Here is the rundown from Trailhead:

MODERN SOURCE PROTEIN by Trailhead Nutrition offers a great alternate for consumers who are willing to give Rice and Pea Protein Isolates a try and see for themselves.

Comprised of not only these new isolates, but with the addition of two other proteins (Potato and Cranberry), this protein is sure to have consumers trading up or adding to their current protein regiment. MODERN SOURCE PROTEIN is a great alternative or addition to your current protein regiment.
Do not be fooled by inferior vegan protein supplements that utilize Pea Protein Concentrate or Rice Protein Concentrate as their sources of protein

Until recently, Whey and other Dairy based protein powders have been the preferred choice as far as protein supplements go, and one of the only options in the industry for helping athletes and fitness minded individuals get the extra protein they need.
This was true because for many years, one of the only other readily available alternatives to dairy based protein has been Soy, and with some of the more recent studies deterring consumers who may have soy allergies or are trying to eliminate soy from their diet, many have not had much of a choice.
Now, while these are still a great source of protein, and are without a doubt the most popular to date, they are not the only ones being used by consumers today. Two of the newest proteins to hit the market in recent years have been Rice Protein Isolate and Pea Protein Isolate. Some of the studies behind the combination of these two proteins have in many cases shown results similar to those who consume Whey and Dairy based protein powders. Plus, it is a great option for consumers who want to take a break every now and then from their current proteins to get away from any issues that may be experienced by those with dairy allergies. Modern Source Protein is made with NO artificial flavors, NO artificial sweeteners, NO artificial colors, and is Gluten free, Allergen free and NON-GMO.

BETABOL Stacking Options

unnamedOne of the best things about BETABOL is that it is a “one-size-fits-all” supplement — it can be taken with virtually ANY supplement stack!

The most important key to success with BETABOL is a high-protein diet. Also, research shows that HMB combined with creatine-based supplements produces greater results than either HMB or creatine alone. HMB should be taken in combination with a balanced diet containing a daily protein intake of about a gram per pound of body weight, especially if you are actively exercising. If your diet isn’t balanced or your protein intake is low, then HMB should be combined with the appropriate vitamin, mineral, protein or energy supplement to balance your diet.

Remember, HMB is also produced naturally from within as your body breaks down the amino acid leucine. You can bolster the production of this muscle-building compound, then, by taking in more leucine — in the form of BCAAs and additional protein, which contains a full spectrum of specific-ratio aminos. Additionally, a creatine supplement taken pre-workout will boost strength and size, supplementing the gains you’d get from BETABOL alone.

Recommended Protein Supplements: PRO7EIN SYNTHESIS, FORZA PRO, PRO 5, PRO5 HERS, MASS COMPLEX, PROTEIN SYNTHESIS GAINER or PRO MRP.

Recommended Creatine Supplements: HEMOVEX, N’SANE, VASOCOR, PREWORK, FUZION K-AKG3, N’FUZE or KRE-ALKALYN COMPLEX.

BETABOL Breakdown: What is HMB?

10608087_1411436959154558_143836792_nIts given name is B-hydroxy-B-methylbutyrate. We’ll call it HMB for short, but there is nothing abbreviated about the benefits of this key ingredient in BETABOL, available in a new powdered form soon at NUTRISHOP.

HMB is a naturally occurring compound produced when our bodies metabolize the amino acid leucine. Its main role has been found to be the repair, growth and preservation of muscle tissue, as well as the capacity to burn fat. The body spends precious resources with muscle repair — each rep you do results in microscopic muscle-fiber tears; the regrowth of these tears puts a huge energy strain on the body. Leucine is the only essential amino acid with the capacity to stimulate muscle protein synthesis, but it is essentially used primarily to repair muscle damage incurred while lifting. When it is metabolized, HMB is produced as a natural byproduct and aids in recovery.

What if, however, you could “free up” the leucine to stimulate muscle protein synthesis to develop NEW muscle, instead of merely repairing the damaged tissue? That is precisely where an HMB supplement like BETABOL comes in. An increase in HMB is designed to allow essential leucine to build new muscle tissue, in turn burning more fat.

In the Journal of Applied Physiology,  an Iowa State University study from 1996 examined the effects of HMB in detail, providing specific ratios to test subjects who engaged in weight-training exercise and also supplemented with protein (rich with leucine). The conclusion: “Supplementation with either 1.5 or 3 g HMB/day can partly prevent exercise-induced proteolysis and/or muscle damage and result in larger gains in muscle function associated with resistance training.” (SOURCE.)

The study points out that the muscle-building benefits of leucine have been scientifically backed for the 45 years, but that only recently has the byproduct HMB gotten any attention for its role in the process. By the end of the study, researchers found that the subjects that were using enhanced doses of HMB were experience higher levels of anti-catabolism, more fat loss and an increase in strength, muscle volume and recovery speed.

Delicious Protein Smoothie Options You Can Make, Right Now

2-e1412692955298We love shakes and smoothies. They are the ultimate fast option for healthy, nutritious meals when you don’t have a lot of time to prepare food or you have a craving for sweets but still want to stick within the boundaries of a healthy diet.

To that end, we started looking around the shop at all the different flavors of protein that we carry, and thought of just how many amazing shakes and smoothies we could make with these flavors — and then we wondered, what about our customers? This week, we want to highlight a shake or two a day to show you just how versatile protein powder can be for making delicious smoothies that will help you build muscle and burn fat.

Got your own great recipe? Share it in the comments, or on our Facebook page! We will update this blog throughout the week, so stay tuned!

1. Peanut Butter Cup

One of the best combinations in human history is chocolate and peanut butter, and that is evident in this amazingly simple smoothie. With 1 C fat-free milk, 2 Tbsp. all-natural peanut butter, 2 scoops of chocolate protein powder (like PRO7 or HYDROPRO), 2 tbsps flaxmeal and 1/2 C plain low-fat yogurt, it tastes so good that it’s hard to believe that there’s enough protein, fiber and calcium in this shake to make it a powerful breakfast or even dessert option.

IMG_20150207_155621~22. Banana Berry Blend

If a fruity flavor is more your style, there’s lots of options here as well. Vanilla protein powder works great, as does the banana flavor we carry — two scoops of either goes great with 1 C fat-free milk, some frozen blueberries, a small, ripe banana and 1 Tbsp. of chia seeds — be sure to let the whole shake settle for a couple minutes, to let the seeds set up and soften. The natural sugars in this shake make it a perfect choice post-workout.

3. Mudslide

Our great cookies and cream flavor works perfectly for this one — use two scoops and mix it in with 1 C of cold, fat-free milk, 1/2 a packet of sugar-free chocolate pudding and, optionally, a Tbsp. of smooth, all-natural peanut butter. For some added flavor, fiber and vitamins, toss in a small handful of frozen raspberries!

4. Pumpkin Power

One tbsp. of pumpkin puree, 1 scoop of caramel pretzel flavor protein, 1/2 C cashew or almond milk and pumpkin pie spice extends everyone’s favorite seasonal flavor throughout the year — and adds a ton of protein, fiber and vitamins to the equation.

5. Caramel Mocha

Perfect for those early-morning starts where you don’t have time for coffee and breakfast — combine the two in a great shake instead. With instant coffee granules, Caramel Pretzel PRO7 and 1/2 C of milk (you can use almond or cashew milk, too), this one has an ice cream feel to it without any of the guilt. (Shoutout to Nutrishop CDA fan Christina Thompson for Nos. 4 and 5!)

6. The PBJ

For those interested in throwing on muscle NOW, add precious calories, fats, protein and slow-digesting carbs with this treat. Peanut butter flavor protein, a scoop or two of real, natural peanut butter, 1/2 frozen strawberries, a small handful of instant oats and 1 C of 1 or 2-pct milk. Like being a kid again and opening up your bag lunch, except that you’re going to get huge and there’s no Capri Sun.

Cardio Burns Muscle — Here’s How to Save It

Running is one of the oldest, most-beloved, low-fuss sports there is. All you need is you and your shoes and you’re off. Runners love many aspects of this sport: the scenery if you’re taking to a trail, the serenity if you do a distance run by yourself, and, of course, the physical benefits.

Running — in fact, any kind of long-distance cardio like cycling or even competitive swimming — is a great way to burn body fat, and while cardio may never have the same kind of after-burn effect on calories that weight-lifting does, research has shown that body fat gets eaten alive by cardio while it’s happening.

Unfortunately, so does muscle.

Because muscle tissue takes more energy to preserve and build than does fat, the body will try to break down muscle that is not used or needed in an effort to build up readily available supplies of glycogen. Sure, fat will burn too. But since muscle tissue is so precious to a fat-burning metabolism — remember, the act of simply maintaining it burns calories as you rest — those concerned with losing muscle mass can ill afford catabolism. This obviously presents a problem for athletes who enjoy prolonged periods of aerobic exercise but who don’t want to see their iron gains go to waste, either.
Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) are one of our favorite products, and their best, most practical use could very well be in preventing muscle wasting and aiding fat loss. Your muscles are built of proteins, proteins which your body is itching to break back down into energy if you give it the chance. It will target proteins before it targets body fat! When proteins are broken down back into amino acids (the process is called proteolysis), the muscle loses size, your metabolism gets slower and fat becomes harder to lose.
Where BCAAs come in is during that exact moment. Research has basically come to a consensus that the big three amino acids – Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine – are muscle-savers and fat-burners (via increased metabolism). The International Journal of Sports Medicine performed a double-blind, placebo-controlled study that tested two control groups performing moderate-intensity endurance exercise: one taking BCAAs, and the other taking the placebo. The study found, of course, that running, cycling and swimming (and other aerobic activity) does indeed increase muscle breakdown. But there’s more:
Endurance exercise at moderate intensity enhances proteolysis in working muscles … [But] a single oral intake of 2 g of BCAA … at onset of exercise effectively suppresses exercise-induced skeletal muscle proteolysis. (Source)
In other words, the amino acids you give your body when you take BCAAs provides a buffer your body can use without affecting the muscle you’ve worked to build. The upshot, then, is that you build or maintain muscle mass while still continuing to burn body fat. And that is a trade-off just about every athlete wants to make.