Genetic factors are responsible for determining your individual nutritional requirements. They influence the amount of nutrients that you need to consume in order to maintain optimal health. These factors include:
Your age; Your gender; Your height and weight; Your physical activity level (how much time you spend exercising); And Your environmental factors such as diet, stress levels, and lifestyle choices.
The following table lists some of the most common genetic factors influencing nutritional requirement.
Age Gender Height Weight Physical Activity Diet Stress Level Environmental Factors 1 Male Female 0.75 Average Lean High Relaxed Low 2 Male Female 0.70 Optimal Average Active Moderate Average 3 Male Female 0.65 Below Average Overweight Low Stressed High 4 Male Female 0.60 Low Very Low Active Very High High 5 Male Female 0.55 Very Low Very Low Very High Stressed Very High
From the table above we can see that an individual’s age, gender, height, weight, physical activity level, diet, stress levels and environment can all affect their nutritional requirements.
These are the key factors in determining an individuals needs, however there are other more subtle ones too. For example, your individual health status is also a good indicator of how your body responds to food and nutrients. If you are generally healthy, then you probably don’t need to consume as many ‘healthy’ foods.
Your individual preferences and food choices are also important factors. For example, if someone doesn’t like vegetables and prefers more fruit and grains then they will naturally be getting a better balance of nutrients.
So how many nutrients do we need?
The answer is that it depends on several factors, such as the amount of activity that you do and your own personal preference. The table below shows you how many nutrients are needed on a daily basis for some common activities.
Activity Level Amount of Activity Required Dietary Intake Typical Napper Slightly less than Average Inactive 7-10% Less Nonsmoker Average Amount of Activity 12-16% Less Light smoker (1-10 a day) Above Average Amount of Activity 15-20% Less Heavy smoker (11-20 a day) High Amount of Activity 18-35% Less Light exerciser 3-5 days a week Average Amount of Activity 16-22% More Light exerciser 6-7 days a week Above Average Amount of Activity 18-26% More Moderate Exerciser 3-5 days a week High Amount of Activity 24-35% More Heavy Exerciser 3-5 days a week Very High Amount of Activity 35%+ More
From the table above you can see that even if you do nothing but lie in bed all day, you would still require 7-10% of your daily nutrient requirements. If you add in light activity such as reading, watching TV, or just moving around your bedroom, then you will require 12-16% of your daily nutrient requirements.
As you can imagine, the more active you are the more energy you will require. Below is a list of activities and the required additional nutrient intake for that activity level.
Activity Level Examples Additional Nutrients Required Lightly active Reading, Watching TV, Sitting at work/school 1-3% Moderately active 1-2 Hours Walking/Biking, light yard work 4-6% Very active 2-3 Hours Running, playing sports 8-12% Extensively active Dancing, heavy yard work 13-18% Intense exercise Weight Lifting, HIIT Training, Professional Athletics 18-40%
As you can see from the table above, if you are exercising to a very intense level then you will require 18-40% of your total daily nutrient intake just for that activity.
Keep in mind also that these amounts are on top of your basic requirements, so if you are only lightly active then you will require 12% of your daily nutrient intake just to meet the average requirements for a sedentary individual.
What are your exact requirements?
As I mentioned above, it is impossible for me to tell you exactly what your requirements are as it will be different for everybody. There is a multiple choice quiz, (see end of article), which will allow you to find out your activity levels and hence tell you how much more you will require each day.
From the table above you can also see the problems that come with being an excessive exerciser or athlete. These people often cause their body to require vast amounts of nutrients but due to the nature of their job they often do not get the required energy intake to support this level of activity.
This is one of the reasons why elite athletes are prone to eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia, in a bid to try and remain at their desired weight. Obviously this can have a serious effect upon their overall health.
If you are an excessive exerciser, it is important to recognise the signs of inadequate nutrition and ensure that you are getting enough nutrients in your diet. It is also important to ensure that you are not exercising to the point where your body requires more nutrients than you are consuming. This can lead to serious health problems and can be fatal.
From what I have seen, most people tend to be moderately active and will fall within the 4-12% range of additional required nutrients. Obviously this also includes any additional requirements due to having a physically demanding job.
So How Do You Increase Your Nutrient Intake?
Assuming that you have already got your basic requirements down, the best way to increase your nutrient intake is to focus upon high nutrient dense foods and supplements.
The best foods are those that are rich in essential vitamins and minerals, and relatively low in calories. Some of the best foods for this are fruit and vegetables, as well as some dairy products. Foods such as sweetcorn, prunes, broccoli, cabbage, apricots, and baked beans are all good examples of high nutrient foods.
Protein powders can also be used to increase your daily nutrient intake as long as you choose a good quality one. I will discuss these later in the article.
There are seven essential nutrients that your body requires to maintain good health and enable it to perform at its peak.
The next seven sections are going to look at these in a little more detail.
Protein is a nutrient which is made up of amino acids. There are nine amino acids which are considered to be essential which means that your body cannot synthesise them from other substances and you must obtain them through your diet.
Protein is involved in the structure of body cells, tissue and organs. It is a vital component of the hair, skin and nails, and is used to manufacture hormones, enzymes and antibodies to fight disease.
Protein is found in many foods but the highest sources are in meat, fish, poultry and dairy produce.
The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for an average adult is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day, so if you weigh 80kg you require 64 grams of protein per day.
However, many active people will need more than this, especially if you are involved in heavy weight training. Studies have shown that weightlifters require 1.6 – 1.7 grams of protein per kg of body weight per day, or in the region of 120 – 130 grams of protein per day if you weigh 80kg.
This level of intake is achieved by taking in an additional 42 – 50 grams of protein above the RDA, which can be achieved by consuming an extra three servings of dairy produce or two and a half servings of meat, fish or poultry.
As you can see, protein intakes at these levels are easily achieved without the need to resort to protein powders.
However, if you are really struggling to achieve your requirements through food alone, then a protein powder can help you to supplement your diet.
Whey protein is a popular choice as it is a ‘complete’ protein, which means that it contains all of the essential amino acids required by your body. Whey is also a ‘fast’ protein which means that it can quickly be turned into protein once it has been ingested.
Other types of protein are soy, egg and casein. These are absorbed into the body at a slower rate so they are considered ‘slow’ proteins.
Whilst it may be tempting to buy the cheapest whey protein you can find, you get what you pay for. In addition to the cheaper whey not being as pure due to being manufactured through the use of less desirable ingredients, it has been shown that cheaper whey products contain proportionately less protein and more fat than their more expensive counterparts.
It is also worth checking the ‘nutrition facts’ table on the back of any product that you are considering buying. You are looking for a high protein content, under 5% fat and low carbohydrate levels.
Finally, look for products that contain naturally occurring amino acids as opposed to those that have had them added artificially.
Many people will recommend that you take your protein straight after a workout but this advice is somewhat outdated. It used to be thought that by taking in protein within 30 minutes of finishing your exercise would speed up the process of muscle growth and repair. However, we now know that there is no need to take in protein immediately after exercise as your body will automatically start repairing itself once you have finished exercising whether you have protein or not.
More recent research has shown that it is just as beneficial, if not more so, to spread your intake of protein over the entire day rather than consume large amounts in one sitting and not have anything at all later. This has been shown to cause improved muscle growth and reduced muscle breakdown when compared to group taking in the same amount of total protein in one sitting each day.
So you have decided that a protein supplement is right for you. Great!
But which one is best?
The most obvious choice is a powdered drink. These are inexpensive, simple to prepare and can be taken anywhere. However, not all protein drinks are suitable for beginners.
The problem with many protein drinks is that they contain large amounts of simple sugars or sweeteners to mask the generally unpleasant taste of protein powder. These are the types of drink that will cause a sudden spike in blood sugar levels followed by a sharp crash shortly afterwards. This is counter productive to our goals and can cause weight gain rather than loss.
Look for a drink that contains fast acting proteins (such as whey), complex carbohydrates and some added vitamins.
The best drink for you is going to be one that fits your personal taste.
Does it need to be flavored? Do you want a lot of calories or will any old shake do?
Some people will prefer the consistency of powdered drinks whereas others won’t mind swallowing a spoonful of plain protein powder. It really is down to personal choice.
There are quite a few meal replacement drinks marketed specifically at people who are trying to lose weight. These are drinks that can replace your breakfast, lunch or dinner and have all of your nutritional requirements within them.
These drinks are quite expensive and the cost can add up over time. Many of them only serve to replace real food with a less nutritious substitute. You are much better off drinking a good quality protein drink as a post workout meal and eating healthy meals of real food for breakfast and lunch and your body will still get all of the nutrients that it requires.
Once again it is all down to personal choice. If you want to try a meal replacement drink and it fits into your budget go ahead. They are better than some of the alternatives!
Many people like to increase their calorie intake when trying to put on size. One of the best things that you can do in this situation is drink whole milk.
Whole milk has a lot of calories in each glass and also provides a good mixture of vitamins and minerals. If you really want to maximize your calorie intake you could consider adding whole milk to all of your meals.
The problem here is going to be stomach capacity. Some people just can’t handle drinking a lot of milk every day and would rather have the flexibility of being able to eat other types of food as well.
If you are going to use whole milk make sure that you are drinking the full fat version. The low fat and skimmed versions have had all of the good stuff taken out.
You could also use heavy whipping cream in the same way that you would use milk. The main difference being that a lot more cream would be needed to get the same number of calories.
Whipping cream does contain a lot of calories but it doesn’t contain all of the vitamins and minerals that whole milk does so you might have to add a multi-vitamin to your diet.
If you are trying to put on a lot of size quickly with straight weight training you could also add peanut butter to your diet.
Peanut butter is very calorific but it also take a lot of chewing before it is ready to swallow. This will help to keep your stomach full without taking up too much space in your stomach.
Once again the problem here is going to be finding the space to eat enough to gain weight. It is hard work eating a jar of peanut butter per day!
If you are looking for a cheap source of calories then banana smoothies are a great idea.
Grapes, Raisins and prunes have been used for many years now as a natural way to take in more calories. These types of food have a high calorie content in small packages.
You could also add these types of food to your regular diet without too many problems. Just make sure that you are drinking enough milk or other healthy fluids to wash everything down.
Free Weights Or Machines
Which Is Better?
One of the biggest debates that always takes place in the gym is over which is better, free weights or machines.
Machines are great as there is no learning curve. You simply adjust the machine to suit your size and then select the weight amount that you wish to lift. After this has been done, just do your exercise.
The advantage with free weights is that you need to learn proper form and technique from the beginning. There is a small learning curve when you first start out but after a few sessions you will have it mastered.
Teaching yourself proper form and technique is something that you can benefit from in the long run. It will make movement in everyday life easier and it will also improve muscle tone and coordination.
Most of the muscles in the body can be worked with either free weights or machines. Each type of equipment has its pros and cons but either one is a good option for any beginner.
What Are Prohormones?
Prohormones are a type of supplement that has become very popular over the last few years. These are compounds that are similar in structure to hormones and have an effect on the body.
While the supplement companies will claim that these supplements can give the same effects as anabolic steroids, this is not true. There are many different kinds of anabolic steroids and while some of their effects are similar, they each have a unique structure which give them different affects on the body.
As prohormones are simply a type of supplement, they will only work in a similar way to anabolic steroids and even then not all of them will work as well.
Most prohormones will only give a slight increase in testosterone levels and even then only for a short period of time. Most of these supplements are also fairly new so there testing hasn’t been done which means their long term effects are unknown.
The main problem with these types of supplements is that they have an effect on hormones. If your body decides that it doesn’t need more testosterone then there is a chance that the supplement will have the opposite effect.
This will usually result in a lower amount of testosterone in your body and a higher amount of estrogen. While this might not sound too bad for men, as it will give you greater amounts of energy and libido, it is a big problem as estrogen promotes the growth of certain types of tumors.
Due to the nature of these supplements, it is hard to find reliable data but there have been several reports of men suffering from swollen prostate glands and other serious medical conditions as a result of taking these types of supplements.
The majority of these supplements are taken in the form of pills but there are a number of other forms as well. Some of the more common ones include pellets, injections, gels and even chewing gum.
If you are going to take any type of bodybuilding supplement then it is best to stick with protein shakes. These are heavily researched and there are a lot of different types available which can help you meet your overall daily protein intake.
These types of supplements are your safest bet if you are going to take any kind of bodybuilding supplements and they aren’t going to have serious long term effects on your body.
Remember that many of these supplements can have an effect on your body that you might not expect. Always consult your doctor before taking any new supplements and read all of the instructions and labels carefully.
The Best Bodybuilding Supplements
There are hundreds of different types of supplements that claim to promote muscle growth. Many of these supplements have similar ingredients but there are a select few that have been proven to be effective time and time again. Keep in mind that supplements are not going to make up for a bad diet or ineffective training programs.
They are simply there to enhance your efforts in the gym.
Whey is a type of protein that is found in milk and cheese, it is the liquid part that is left over when the solid part, known as curd, has been curded. The curd is what is used to make cheese, while the whey is often discarded or in the case of today’s modern world, turned into supplements.
Whey protein is an essential supplement for anyone who is involved in bodybuilding as it helps the body to build and repair muscles. It is made up of various amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein and helps to increase the rate at which your muscles grow and recover.
Whey is often taken directly after exercise as it is absorbed into the body quicker, this helps to feed your muscles with the materials that they need to grow and reduces the time that they need to rest, which means that they can start rebuilding and growing again that much quicker.
There are different types of whey, each with their own benefits and drawbacks. Some whey’s are faster to digest than others, some have a higher level of certain amino acids than others and some taste better than others.
The type of whey that you buy is determined by your own needs and taste preferences. If you just want something to quickly feed your muscles after a workout then you can choose a cheap whey that isn’t going to taste very good, however, if taste is important to you and you have the money to spend then you can choose a whey that is going to taste great but may cost you a little more.
Creatine is an ingredient that is found naturally in the body and also eaten in the diet. It is made up of three amino acids; glycocyamine, arginine and methionine. The main role of creatine is to supply energy to your muscles in the form of ATP.
This process is known as phosphocreatine cycling. This mechanism is how creatine increases your strength, by increasing the amount of ATP available to the muscles.
ATP is responsible for allowing your muscles to shorten and relax, so the more ATP available to your muscles the more they can contract, this is how creatine improves your strength.
For creatine to be effective you must either eat meat or take a supplement. There are vegetarian alternatives to creatine but it is not as effective.
There are a few different types of creatine supplements, each with their own pros and cons. The most common type is creatine monohydrate, which is the cheapest but also has the most side effects. The most common side effect is diarrhea, which can be annoying and lead to a lot of bathroom trips.
Another type of creatine is creatine ethyl ester, which is more expensive than creatine monohydrate but has been shown to have fewer side effects. The most common side effects are still diarrhea and stomach pain. You also need to increase your water intake when taking this type of creatine, as it has a tendency to dehydrate you.
The third and most recent type of creatine is creatine nitrate. This is the most expensive type of creatine and is arguably the best. It has been shown to have the least amount of side effects and no increased risk of dehydration.
The most common side effect is stomach pain.
The most important thing to remember with all types of creatine is to cycle it. This means that you should take breaks from it every few months. If you don’t, then your body can build up a tolerance to it and it will no longer have any effect on you.
Now that you know what the main ingredients are and their benefits, you need to decide which ones you should actually buy.
There are hundreds of different pre workout supplements out there and most of them are garbage. It’s highly recommended that you stay away from the big name, mass produced supplements as they are mostly junk and don’t contain anywhere near enough active ingredients to be effective.
You are going to have to do your own research when it comes to finding one that is right for you. Look for objective reviews rather than ones that are written by affiliates that have a conflict of interest.
It’s also important that you check the ingredients list, and if it contains anything you don’t recognize or cannot find any reliable information about then do not buy it.
Always buy from reputable manufacturers or at least from a reliable supplier, this will reduce the chances of you buying a fake or substandard product.
Pre Workout Supplements & Their Uses
Caffeine is commonly found in pre workout supplements, usually in the form of coffee beans or tea extracts.
It is the most widely used stimulant in the world and it is extremely effective at improving your energy levels. It can improve your endurance, sharpen your focus and increase your ability to perform repetitions.
It is important to note that it is also highly addictive and can have a significant impact on your sleep if taken in large quantities.
Beta Alanine works by increasing the amount of carnosine in your muscles. Carnosine acts as a buffer for lactic acid, this means that it can prevent the build up of lactic acid in your muscles.
This helps to reduce fatigue and increase your work capacity.
It is a relatively safe supplement to use and most people can tolerate it well. The main side effect is a skin tingling or itchiness, which can be unpleasant but is nothing serious.
L-Citrulline is an amino acid that can improve blood flow to the muscles. It also boosts the efficiency of the mitochondria in your muscle cells.
This combination greatly improves your endurance and ability to perform repetitions. It is a relatively safe supplement, although it can cause some people to experience diarrhea or a tingling sensation.
This supplement is an amino acid that, like L-Citrulline, can improve blood flow to the muscles. It has a similar effect to creatine as it increases the size of the muscle cells, making them fuller and more voluminous.
This supplement is more likely to cause side effects than L-Citrulline. This is because it increases the amount of nitric oxide in the body. Too much nitric oxide can lead to a drop in blood pressure which can cause dizziness and headaches in some people.
Creatine is a supplement that many people associate with body building. It is one of the most researched supplements out there and has stood the test of time in terms of reliability and effectiveness.
It has the most evidence to support its ability to increase strength, improve endurance and allow you to train harder. It also helps to build muscle size and improve brain function.
There are some people that shouldn’t take creatine, these include those with kidney problems, heart disease, or diabetes. If you are unsure about whether you should take it or not, you should consult your doctor.
Despite the name, Tribulus Terrestris doesn’t actually increase your testosterone levels. This misconception came about because Tribulus Terrestris has the ability to increase luteinizing hormone (LH).
LH is directly related to testosterone, hence the confusion. Despite this fact, Tribulus Terrestris still offers a number of benefits for bodybuilders and strength trainers. These include increased strength, more energy during the workout, improved muscle gain and an increase in libido.
One downside of Tribulus Terrestris is that it can interact poorly with other supplements and medicines, so you should consult your doctor before using it.
This is a relatively new supplement, but it has already proven itself to have a number of benefits. It can boost testosterone levels and improve muscle growth, strength and even brain function.
It is also very safe to use and has no known side effects when taken in normal dosages. There is some evidence that shows that D-Aspartic Acid can increase testosterone in people with low levels.
However, this doesn’t seem to apply to people with normal or high levels. In any case, it is a very useful supplement for anyone who is trying to build their muscles. It can also improve your energy levels and help you train harder.
Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)
These are essential amino acids that contain a branch in their chemical structure. Your body cannot manufacture these on its own, so you must get them through your diet.
These amino acids are known to improve athletic performance and can aid the burning of fat. They can also prevent fatigue by reducing the feelings of tiredness.
They are often taken as a pre-workout supplement to reduce the feeling of tiredness and increase muscle endurance.
This supplement is useful for people who do a lot of weight training as it can prevent muscle break down and encourage more lean muscle growth. It can also improve your mental focus and reduce the feeling of fatigue.
This supplement is not suitable for everyone and you should consult your doctor before using it if you have a medical condition of any kind.
This supplement works by increasing the nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide can widen blood vessels, allowing more blood, and therefore oxygen, to reach your muscles.
This increased oxygen can improve your muscle endurance and recovery, allowing you to train harder. It can also reduce the oxygen requirements of difficult exercises, allowing you to train at your maximum level for longer.
It can also reduce the pain you feel during a workout, allowing you to train through minor muscular aches and pains. This can be very appealing if you are just starting out and are pushing your muscles for the first time.
Some people find that it also improves their focus, which can be useful when attempting to complete a weight training routine.
There are different types of Creatine and they are not all suitable for everyone. It is important that you read the packaging and ensure that you have the right one for you.
Some people find that they experience muscle cramps when using it. If this happens to you then you should seek medical advice before continuing to use the supplement.
This supplement is useful for people who do a lot of weight training. It can increase the amount of carbohydrates that you body uses, allowing you to train for longer periods.
It is also claimed to be useful for gaining mass, although there isn’t enough evidence to prove this.
It is important to remember that it shouldn’t be used by people who have certain medical conditions and you should always consult your doctor if you have any doubts.
The best way to consume Creatine is to dissolve it into a drink or mix it with a protein shake. It can also be taken with food.
It is often taken before exercise but it isn’t strictly necessary. It can also improve your focus, which can be helpful during training.
This supplement is rich in omega-3 and it is thought to be useful for improving athletic performance.
There isn’t enough evidence to prove that it improves physical performance, although it is claimed to be useful for losing fat.
It is often used by bodybuilders and other athletes to prevent fat gain and improve definition.
This supplement can be taken alongside a weight-loss program to help preserve muscle mass when losing weight.
This supplement is thought to improve the process of protein synthesis, which is when proteins in the body are repaired and built.
It is also claimed to reduce fatigue and muscle pain, allowing you to train for longer periods of time.
This supplement can be taken alongside a weight-loss program as it can improve fat loss results.
It is important that you follow the instructions on the bottle. If you take too much, it can have negative effects on your body.
It can also interact with a number of different medications, so you should always consult your doctor before taking this supplement.
This supplement is taken by many people as it claims to increase the amount of energy that your body produces.
It is thought to do this by increasing the number of mitochondria in your muscle cells. These are the parts of cells that produce energy for the cell.
Some studies have shown that it can improve endurance performance and allow people to train for longer.
It has also shown some promise when it comes to building lean muscle mass, although more evidence is required.
There isn’t enough evidence to suggest that it helps with fat loss.
It is important that you follow the instructions when taking this supplement. Some people experience negative side effects such as nausea and diarrhea.
If you have any pre-existing medical conditions you should consult your physician before taking this supplement. It can interact with a number of different medicines.
This is a supplement that is high in the omega-3 fatty acids. These acids are thought to be useful for improving cholesterol and heart health.
Some studies have shown that it can improve the ratio of good to bad cholesterol and lower triglycerides. This is useful for people who have high cholesterol or triglycerides.
Fish oil may also improve blood flow and reduce the risk of clots, which can lower the risk of heart attack and stroke.
There isn’t enough evidence to suggest that it is useful for athletes. If you want to take it to improve your cardiovascular health then you can do so if you don’t have any pre-existing conditions.
You should always speak to your doctor before taking this supplement if you have a pre-existing condition or you are pregnant.
How to Buy Supplements
You can buy supplements from most health and supplement stores. You can also buy them online or over the phone.
It is important that you look for a store that has a good reputation and will be able to answer any questions you have about their products.
You should also look for a store that sells a reputable brand. You can get most supplements from a number of different brands.
Always check to see what ingredients a supplement contains and what effects it might have on your body. If you want to reduce your fat and increase your muscle mass then you should take a supplement with carbohydrates, proteins and creatine.
Always read the instructions before taking a supplement and only take the recommended dosage. If you have any pre-existing conditions or you are taking any medications, then you should consult a physician before taking them.
Supplements can have a number of benefits for people who exercise. They can improve your performance in the gym and they can help you recover after a workout.
Some people eat a clean diet, but they do not get enough nutrients from their food and they may also find it difficult to eat enough calories to support their training demands.
In these cases, supplements can help fill these gaps and support your training demands. You can achieve the physique you want by eating right and taking the right supplements.
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