Which Foods and Supplements are Best for Muscle Gains!
The requirement for quality nutrition has, over recent millennia, changed very little. In fact, since the beginning of evolution humans have been primed to adapt and thrive in accordance with their access to a wide range of nutrient-dense foods.
What kept us hunting on the Savannah (the cradle of human evolution, according to one theory) sustains us today, the major difference being that the foods we ate on the rolling grasslands of prehistoric times, though often in short supply, were consumed exclusively in their natural state. Thus, the life-giving properties of the foods that sustained our common ancestors enabled them to evolve into the humans that exist today.
Unfortunately, where sustenance was scarce but nutrient dense when secured, today’s humans are blessed (or, so it has transpired, in many cases cursed) with plentiful sustenance, much of it delicious to the palate but lacking in the vital nutrients needed to keep us functioning in the way we were designed to.
The abundance of nutrient-sparse food items at our disposal has led to both overconsumption and malnourishment on a massive scale. No longer do we eat expressly for survival but also for enjoyment and, sadly for increasing numbers, to assuage boredom and depression. The misapplication of nutrition has for many contributed to a decline in physical and mental performance and appearance. Furthermore, we are getting fatter by the day: currently, around 50% of us are obese or overweight, with the worldwide prevalence for obesity tripling between 1975-2016.
For many years, humans have been undergoing a persistent state of devolution. Rather than evolving as nature intended, we have fallen into habits that have taken us backwards and caused us to regress on many fronts – from sitting for long periods to existing on minimal sleep to being afflicted with more stress than we can healthily handle. Perhaps most damaging of all, our nutritional habits have taken a massive hit to where many of us now exist almost entirely on processed, calorie-laden fare.
If we are to reverse this trend and continue our evolution as strong and capable humans, quality nutrition, along with increased physical activity, must replace the unhealthy habits we have picked up in the normal course of daily life (many of them forced on us at a young age).
It is now time to do only those things that will serve to keep us vital and progressive, or return us to a more favorable state of being. To a large extent, this means increasing our intake of healthy whole foods, and avoiding those that do nothing but damage our health and wellbeing.
This article discusses some of the short and long-term benefits of healthy eating along with ways to improve consistency at the dinner table and adherence to quality nutrition so that we may not only survive but thrive, whatever the environment.
Entire volumes could be written on the benefits of healthy eating. Suffice to say that everything we do is to varying degrees influenced by what we ingest of a daily basis. Without the right raw materials needed for the growth and maintenance of the thousands of intricate biological functions which keep us alive and performing at our best, we may achieve but a fraction of our true potential to succeed at whatever it is we wish to pursue.
So, beyond that new six-pack and set of gargantuan guns, just what are some of the more important benefits to keeping our intake of beneficial nutrients high?
A varied diet of healthful nutrients boosts cognition, mental focus and mood – both in the short and long-term. While there are presently available a selection of superior supplements designed to optimize mental-performance, when it comes to boosting brain power, nothing can take the place of a wholesome diet packed with a beneficial array of healthy foods.13
For hardcore trainees specifically, what we eat determines our emotional and cognitive state, both of which can have a major impact on our physical performance in the gym. Here, superior nutrition means we can be more energized and less fatigued. Our focus, judgement, accuracy and reaction time can also be vastly improved with the right combination of key nutrients. All of which gives us an advantage when it comes to lifting with precision and intensity.
To optimize mental functioning via quality nutrition, aim for a complete balance of quality nutrients, but don’t overdo it. For example, while carbohydrates are important for boosting energy and providing fiber along with a wide range of valuable micronutrients, consuming more carbs than is healthy or desirable can lead to brain fog, energy depletion or unwanted weight gain.
Specific brain health foods may include those high in magnesium, green leafy vegetables (a good greens product such as the 100% pure GytoGreens can assist here), foods high in B vitamins, fatty fish, walnuts, and berries.
Besides being today’s preeminent muscle-pump product, IMPACT Pump has gained a reputation for boosting the mental processes responsible for enhancing focus, drive, cognition, and mood.
Loaded with an advanced blend of powerful nootropic agents, and a powerful absorption matrix to ensure these ingredients work as designed, IMPACT Pump is truly spectacular in its ability to enhance motivation and concentration to increase training output and intensity.
The extent to which we are insulin sensitive could be the single most important health determinant. The opposite of insulin resistance (a pre-diabetic condition in which muscle, fat and liver cells resist the nutrient storage capabilities of insulin), insulin sensitivity is a positive state required for the proper partitioning of nutrients (notably of blood sugars).
To be insulin sensitive means we can, within reason, eat more of the foods we love without gaining excessive amounts of bodyfat, avoid sugar crashes, enjoy clearer skin, and reduce the risk of succumbing to a variety of diseases (including type-2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, thyroid conditions, and more).
The key to becoming more insulin sensitive and less insulin resistant is to increase our intake of healthy foods. Here, vegetables, healthy fats (primarily omega 3s), fruits, lean meats (specifically fish and poultry) and whole grains are recommended.
In addition, a full spectrum multivitamin/mineral supplement and, in particular, compounds of specific importance to insulin signalling (among them, magnesium and zinc) can reduce the likelihood of becoming insulin resistant.21, 26 Other ways to increase insulin sensitivity include getting sufficient sleep, reducing stress and burning bodyfat (each of which can be managed, in large part, via an emphasis on complete nutrition).
In addition, by slashing (or eliminating entirely) the intake of simple sugars, refined carbs, processed foods of all types, and sugary drinks, insulin resistance can be reduced and the body may become more receptive to processing healthy foods.19, 32 With such an approach we may look, feel and perform at a higher level than might otherwise be expected.
A high potency vitamin/mineral supplement which provides a selection of key nutrients specific to optimizing mental functioning.
In addition to dietary modification with a specific emphasis on foods high in antioxidants, we may enhance life expectancy and, more importantly, quality of life with a broad array of micronutrients. While a sound diet can provide many of these nutrients, a full-spectrum multi vitamin/mineral formula remains the most effective way to get all of the nutrients needed for optimum health and wellbeing.
The problem with many of today’s vitamin formulas is (1) poor potency and assimilation and (2) an incomplete ingredient profile. ALLMAX VITASTACK provides the solution by supplying each health-essential micronutrient in the highest possible dose.
In addition, each 9-pill package contains a blend of specific nutrients of benefit to functions as diverse as lean muscle building, electrolyte balance, bone and joint health, mental focus and stamina, digestion and immunity.
Of specific importance to the reduction of inflammation are the Omega 3s.30 Among its broad range of benefits, VITASTACK also includes a cardiopulse blend of essential fatty acids, including high potency EPA and DHA omega 3s.
Whether the aim is to recover from intensive training or the general day-to-day travails of modern life, a failure to supply our bodies with the nutrition needed for proper physiological functioning will likely curtail the ongoing regeneration needed to become stronger and healthier humans.
To such an extent does our health and wellbeing depend on the full restoration of body and mind that the more we make inroads into our ability to recover, the greater will be the likelihood of experiencing burnout, mental exhaustion and, in extreme cases, the onset of disease.
As all good bodybuilders know, the gains we ultimately make are more to do with our ability to recover than any amount of hard and dedicated training. In fact, the harder we train, the more recovery we require to take full advantage of the stimulatory effects of training. This is why sleep, stress-reduction and healthy nutrition rank high among serious athletes.
To enhance recovery, be sure to consume at least 1g of protein per pound of bodyweight, per day, along with a generous intake of healthy fats and low glycemic/highly fibrous carbohydrates.
By including fats with high carb meals, the glycemic response to the ingested sugars may be reduced due to a delay in gastric emptying and an increase in insulin secretion. Here, the glucose-lowering effects of fat may be further influenced by the habitual ingestion of fat.6, 20, 22
Fat intake remains an often-overlooked aspect of healthy nutrition. One type of fat that has become popular among the fitness-minded specifically are the MCTs (Medium Chain Triglycerides). Naturally occurring in palm and coconut oils, the MCTs are better absorbed and utilized than other fats. They are known for enhancing the body’s ability to burn fats for energy. Thus, for health and aesthetic reasons, many often use MCTs in place of carbs.
ALLMAX Nutrition MCT oil features all the benefits of MCTs but are of a higher quality due to their purity and bioavailability. The new and improved ALLMAX MCT oil is derived from 100% coconut oil and contains an optimal 60/40 blend of the two most powerful MCTs: C8 (Caprylic Acid) and C10 (Capric Acid).34
Whether added to carb-heavy meals or used to replaced sugars outright, these high-quality MCT’s can improve insulin sensitivity to boost health and wellbeing.
To live a long and healthy life begins with the right nutrition. Indeed, along with exercise, a balanced diet remains the most important way to defy the ravages of time to extend life and reduce the likelihood of disease.
From the vast body of scientific literature on life extension and disease prevention, three main lessons can be gleaned: stay lean (via bodyfat reduction or minimization), consume a variety of fruits and vegetables, and avoid processed foods (especially those loaded with trans fats and high fructose corn syrup).1, 3, 9, 11, 14, 23, 24, 27, 28, 29, 31
Driving down inflammation – specifically chronic (or persistent, low grade) inflammation throughout the body – is particularly critical to enhancing longevity and preventing disease.18 Such systemic inflammation, resulting primarily from stress and poor nutrition, can, in addition to adversely affecting cellular healing and the complete restoration of body and mind, contribute to a range of disease states, including heart disease and cancer.2
Those who suffer from this form of inflammation (characterized by low-level swelling, pain and a loss of physical and mental functioning) are especially susceptible to heart disease and stroke. This may result from inflammatory cells remaining in the blood vessels for too long and thus encouraging the build-up of plaque, which may then become unstable and rupture, leading to the formation of a blood clot. The resulting blood clot formation may impede blood flow to the heart or brain, leading to heart attack or stroke.
Chronic inflammation can be prevented or countered with the right nutrition and supplementation, specifically a diet high in fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, and healthy fats, and low in red meat and saturated/trans fats, sugary foods and refined carbohydrates.3, 8, 24, 25, 33
A sustained intake of quality proteins is essential for those who subject their bodies to ongoing physical stress. Critical for wholesale cellular healing, protein boosts recovery and keeps the body in a constant state of growth (anabolism, or constructive metabolism).4, 17
The most rapidly absorbed and assimilated of the proteins is whey isolate. This makes it perfect for recovery from all forms of physical stress. Of the different types of isolate, ALLMAX ISOFLEX remans the market leader.
ISOFLEX is unique in that it retains its bioactive whey fractions (collectively, Beta-lactoglobulin, alpha-lactalbumin, glycomacropeptide (GMP), immunoglobulins, serum albumin, lactoferrin, and lactoperoxidase), which, when consumed concurrently, are immunity-enhancing, antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, and anti-parasitic.7 This and the fact that it is 100% pure and contains 27g of protein per serving makes ISOFLEX the first choice for protein replenishment.
Now that you know (if you didn’t know already) just how important healthy eating is, how might we incorporate the best of the beneficial foods and supplements featured above into our daily plan? After all, it’s one thing to know about the importance of healthy eating/supplementing, but quite another to practice these on a daily basis.
For sound nutrition to become an established part of daily life, two words come to mind: consistency and adherence – namely, how might we become more consistent in our healthy eating habits, and how might we adhere to healthy eating over the long term?
Once a solid plan of attack is in place there can be no halfway measures. Of the many thousands of people who with the best of intentions modify their nutrition for the better, very few stick it out long enough to achieve any meaningful progress.
Because results may come slower than expected is no reason to quit. Remember, healthy eating is a lifelong endeavour. So, unless training for a specific event or a certain physical look or performance objective, and so long as you are achieving your specific goals, keep eating the same healthy foods in the same manner without any thoughts of stopping. For those with more specialized objectives (for example, reaching single-digit bodyfat levels for an event), ongoing modifications may be needed. Here, consistency is no less important.
Remember, the many internal changes we create with proper nutrition cannot be seen and may not even necessarily be experienced in the immediate term. This is no reason to quit. As with training, the consistent application of effort is all-important when it comes to executing our nutritional game plan.
To adhere to a properly structured nutrition plan means we are committed to doing all that is necessary to achieve our individualized goals. Though consistency plays a major role in our ability and willingness to adhere to a given plan, adherence goes much deeper – it requires us to uphold our vision of what we want to achieve and to respect and honor the process of self-betterment. To adhere means we are to conform to and abide by any necessary steps on the path to goal attainment.
Unfortunately, adherence to training and nutrition is not, for many, so easily accomplished. But there are a number of rules that can be followed to make this process easier to navigate.
First, stick at it. Though this statement may to be appear overly simplistic, it’s arguably the most important way to become a healthy eating adherent. This is because the longer we stick it out, the greater will be our motivation to continue.
This especially holds true when it comes to nutrition. Remember: according to research, it takes at least 66 days for habit formation to occur.16 So, do not be discouraged when you feel like quitting, or if it is taking longer than expected to achieve your goal (s). Give it time. Before long, you will have a new set of healthy habits and your new fitness lifestyle will be well and truly established.
Indeed, it’s during the early stages of a new diet that we are most likely to quit. This may be because given that we have not have significantly invested ourselves at that point. Furthermore, any initial adjustments may come as a shock to the system, which may compel us to revert to previous habits.
However, the longer we stay committed to our nutrition plan, the greater the investment we will have made as far as time, effort, and finances are concerned. In addition, any progress we have experienced will likely keep us motivated to achieve more of the same. At this point we will likely find ourselves entrenched in the process.
Secondly, be realistic. While dropping 40lbs of bodyfat in three months may, for example, be enticing, its unlikely to happen even with the best genetics and a solid nutrition plan predicated on success. So, take things gradually and give yourself plenty of time to let your diet plan work its magic. Though aiming high is to be commended, it’s probably best, at least in the initial stages, to keep your expectations low. By having realistic expectations, you increase your chances of pursuing your plan to goal completion and beyond.12
Thirdly, and this is a big one, the best way to avoid bad food choices is to keep them out of sight.10, 35 This might mean having someone else do your food shopping and purchasing only what is in your diet plan. At the very least, keep bad foods out of the house. If unhealthy foods are within reaching distance, and hunger pangs strike, as they sometimes will, the chances of cheating are greatly increased. Ensure you have access only to those foods which support goal achievement.
Fourthly, to make healthy habits stick and to reap the benefits of these habits, the ongoing monitoring of progress is a must.36 To see such progress unfold provides immediate motivation to continue. Also, by tracking your nutritional success, ongoing modifications can more accurately be determined. In addition, and perhaps most important, the routine assessment of results keeps us accountable to our plan (without such feedback we are just as liable to go off track).5
Finally, make the body transformation process (or whatever other goal you may be pursuing) a package deal. Research has shown that a nutrition plan is much more likely to be successful when a solid training plan is also in place.15 Though many fitness experts caution against changing too many things at once when embarking on a fitness lifestyle, there’s no escaping the fact that both dietary and training changes, made together, tend to reinforce one another. And, of course, one without the other will make shaping up a more laborious (if not impossible) process than it needs to be.
- Andrawes, W. F. et al. (2005). Prevention of cardiovascular events in elderly people. Drugs Aging. 22(10):859-876.
- Azab, M. The Brain on Fire: Depression and Inflammation. [Online] https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/neuroscience-in-everyday-life/201810/the-brain-fire-depression-and-inflammation – retrieved on 20.1.20
- Bernarducci, M.P. et al. (1996). Is there a fountain of youth? A review of current life extension strategies. Pharmacotherapy. 16(2):183–200.
- Carbone, J. W. et al. (2019). Dietary Protein and Muscle Mass: Translating Science to Application and Health Benefit. Nutrients, 11(5), 1136.
- Cayir, Y. et al. (2015). The effect of pedometer use on physical activity and body weight in obese women. Eur J Sport Sci. 15(4):351–356.
- Cunningham, K. M. et al. (1991). Gastrointestinal adaptation to diets of differing fat composition in human volunteers. 32 483– 6.
- Decker, J. K. (2019). Are whey fractions the next frontier in dairy protein? Nutritional Outlook. Volume: 22, Issue 9, October 29
- Dhaka, V. et al. (2011). Trans fats-sources, health risks and alternative approach – A review. Journal of food science and technology, 48(5), 534–541.
- Duong, M. et al. (2012). High cortisol levels are associated with low quality food choice in Type 2 Diabetes. Endocrine. Feb; 41(1): 76–81.
- Emery, C. F. et al. (2015). Home environment and psychosocial predictors of obesity status among community-residing men and women. Int J Obes (Lond). 39(9):1401–1407.
- Fraser, G. E. et al. (2001). Ten years of life: Is it a matter of choice? Arch Intern Med. 161(13):1645-1652.
- Grave, D. R. et al. (2005). Weight loss expectations in obese patients and treatment attrition: an observational multicenter study. Obes Res.13(11):1961–1969.
- Harvard Health Medical School. Foods linked to Better Brain Power. [Online] https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/foods-linked-to-better-brainpower – retrieved on 22.1.20
- Klieman L. et al. (2006). Cardiovascular disease risk reduction in older adults. J Cardiovasc Nurs. 21(5 Suppl 1):S27-S39.
- King, A.C. et al. (2013). Behavioral impacts of sequentially versus simultaneously delivered dietary plus physical activity interventions: the CALM trial. Ann Behav Med. 2013;46(2):157–168.
- Lally, P. et al. (2010). How are habits formed: Modelling habit formation in the real world. European journal of Social Psychology. Volume 40, Issue6 October
- Lonnie, M. et al. (2018). Protein for Life: Review of Optimal Protein Intake, Sustainable Dietary Sources and the Effect on Appetite in Ageing Adults. Nutrients, 10(3), 360.
- Lee, C. H., et al. (2019). The Role of Inflammation in Depression and Fatigue. Front Immunol. 10: 1696.
- Meyers, A. M. et al. (2017). High fructose corn syrup induces metabolic dysregulation and altered dopamine signaling in the absence of obesity. PloS one, 12(12), e0190206.
- Nuttall, F. Q. et al. (1991). Plasma glucose and insulin response to macronutrients in nondiabetic and NIDDM subjects Diabetes Care. 14: 824– 38
- Norouzi, S. et al. (2018). Zinc stimulates glucose oxidation and glycemic control by modulating the insulin signaling pathway in human and mouse skeletal muscle cell lines. PloS one, 13(1)
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- Rico-Campa, A. et al. (2019). Association between consumption of ultra-processed foods and all-cause mortality: SUN prospective cohort study. BMJ 365:l1949
- Rippe, J. M. et al. (2016). Relationship between Added Sugars Consumption and Chronic Disease Risk Factors: Current Understanding. Nutrients. Nov; 8(11): 697.
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