What’s The Deal With Protein Shakes?

One of the most common things you might hear at the gym is the rattling of blender bottles as people slush up their protein shakes and guzzle them down after a workout. Also infamously known as brotein shakes to bodybuilders, this drink is a combination of protein powder and water consumed after and sometimes before a workout. Nowadays, you can find a wide array of protein drinks spread across shelves at any grocery store. Chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, organic, low-fat, you name it, they’ve got it. But why are protein shakes so important to athletes? Keep reading to find out!

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What Does Protein Do?

Proteins are amino acids, which are essential for the human body. According to MedlinePlus, “you need protein in your diet to help your body repair cells and make new ones.” This is very important for athletes because protein aids in muscle recovery after exercise.  This is why many people drink protein shakes immediately after working out. They also help keep you full and reach your calorie intake if you are dieting. Many protein powders are vegan, which are great for vegetarians whom do not receive proteins from meat.

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Should I Drink Protein if I’m Just Doing Cardio?

This is definitely something I’ve wondered on rest days where I’m not doing strength training. Protein seems so good for your body, should you drink it regularly? Yes and no. As mentioned above, protein can help keep you full if you’re dieting. However, if you are not counting calories and eating your normal day’s worth of food, a protein shake might just be extra calories. According to SF Gate, “if you drink protein shakes along with a low-calorie diet, the shakes may also help you attain a better body composition.” It is true that protein is great after any workout, strength or cardiovascular, but strength training is more effective for building muscle. If you’re planning on just doing cardio and eating a normal day’s diet, it might be better to skip the shake.

 

Comfort Without the Bounce | How to Find the Right Sports Bra

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Your body is a castle. Actually, after you’ve been working out, it feels more like an exquisite mansion with marbled trimming, red satin curtains, an interior pool, and a menagerie of exotic animals. So naturally it would make sense to treat your body right. Sports bras are essential for an active woman. After all, no one wants their assets swinging around like bouncy balls and we certainly don’t want the girls suffocating under a corset-like grip. You should pick a sports bra according to the physical activity you’re engaging in, with your cup size in mind.

Low-impact sports include walking, weight training, yoga, and cardio machines such as ellipticals and stair climbers. High-impact sports constitute more exertion of the body, such as running, gymnastics, and games like basketball or football. Low-impact sports don’t require as much support so you can settle for simpler designs such as cami straps while maximum support bras are required for more rigorous activities.

Compression Bras

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(Photo Source: http://store.nike.com/ Nike, Nike Pro Hypercool Compression Aerial, $50).

Compression bras are ideal for sizes A-B. They minimize breast movement by holding down the girls in place.

Encapsulated Bras

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(Photo Source: http://www.championusa.com/ Champion, Champion All-Out Support II Full Figure Wirefree Sports Bra, $29.99).

Encapsulated bras are built with cups, so they are more supportive with a traditional bra shape. They are the bras we wear every day. Women with breasts D and larger should consider encapsulated bras.

Combination Bras

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(Photo Source: https://www.victoriassecret.com/ Victoria’s Secret, The Standout Sports Bra, $49.50 – $56.50).

Last but not least are combination bras, that fuse together compression and encapsulated bras for shape, support, and comfort. They are ideal for cups C & D.

How Do I Even Choose?

The market for sports bras is becoming more and more competitive, presenting a variety of new modern and intricate styles such as front zip closures or decorative criss-cross straps.

With this new assortment of styles, it’s becoming easier to find bras catered to your needs as well as your fashion taste. But remember, that comfort is your best friend and should always come first. Make sure your bra isn’t digging into your shoulders and that you can still inhale and exhale with ease when the hook is clasped on the second or last hook.

Skip window shopping when it comes to sports bras! Always try them on before buying because looks can be deceiving and you’ll want to make the most of your investment.

The lifespan of a good sports bra is six months to a year. Sadly, I know what it’s like to have that favorite go-to bra that you can’t bear to part with. But the more you love and use a sports bra, the band starts to stretch out and it loses its effectiveness and support. The circle of life moves us all, and clothing is no exception.

Do you know what’s in your pre-workout supplement?

Today it isn’t unusual for anyone from bodybuilders to once a week gym goers (like me) to seek a little extra help when working out. And for most people that extra edge seems to come in the form of powdered, concentrated supplements. So taking something that claims to help boost your energy and extend your endurance seem just like a dream come true, right? But it has been of great controversy in the news recently as reports of soldiers dying after consuming pre-workout supplements raise questions about health risks associated with usage. So just how safe are these workout enhancers exactly?

Throughout bodybuilding forums it is common to see that many strength trainers use these pre-workout enhancer supplements daily, if not more often. For some, it has given them the edge they need to do that extra rep or run the extra mile. Most pre-workout supplements on the market today typically contain the following ingredients:

  • Caffeine – A stimulant that is often used for a temporary energy boost, increase in fat burning, and greater muscle endurance. Studies have shown that an overdose can lead to blood toxicity and death.
  • Creatine – A nitrogenous acid that is synthesized in the liver and kidney, this naturally occurring compound allows for greater muscle growth, stamina, and fat loss. Long-term usage has been linked to abdominal pain and kidney failure.
  • β-Alanine – An amino acid that allows for improvement in physical stamina and delay of muscle fatigue. No undesirable side effects were noted from extended use.
  • L-Arginine – An amino acid that increases nitrogen oxide production which permits greater tolerance for high-intensity workouts and the ability to sustain longer muscle contractions.

When taken as directed and in moderate dosage, most of the aforementioned ingredients can have positive ergogenic effects. They are generally found to be naturally occurring in everyday food sources except for one substance in particular:

  • 1,3-Dimethylamylamine (DMAA) – An amphetamine related substance that was found to be contained in the products Jack3d and OxyElite Pro. DMAA increases the body’s ability to sustain energy and improve stamina with fatigue over long periods of time. Overuse has been linked to death and liver failure.

While taking this non-FDA approved supplement, a few bodybuilders have had their careers ended from drug tests that were reported positive for DMAA. This additive has been linked to heart attack and stroke and has consequently been banned in many countries.

There have been warnings issued by the FDA about adverse effects reported in association with pre-workout supplements include gastrointestinal symptoms, cardiac arrhythmia, hypertension, and potential effects on blood glucose. Although the FDA dispatches warnings about many supplements, it does not regulate or test products marketed as dietary supplements before allowing them to be sold to consumers. The New York Times states two soldiers died while performing routine health examinations with 1,3-Dimethylamylamine present in their autopsy reports.

Despite these reports, a few studies performed on athletic, collegiate-aged men and women indicated that certain pre-workout supplements could have a positive effect on muscle growth and endurance. As these supplements were taken as directed, there were no adverse effects pertaining specifically to heart, kidney, or liver function. One research study even revealed that creatine use in combination with caffeine can have ergogenic effects.

With all of the newly emerging data on studies performed pertaining to pre-workout supplements, it is entirely up to the user if these supplements are worth the possible associated health risks. Most workout enhancing products have not been tested or FDA approved to ensure the safety of use. However, research has shown that, when taken as directed, certain pre-workout supplements can have amazing benefits obtained without excessive side effects. So is the extra advantage in your workout worth your liver or maybe even your life? As always it is best to consult your doctor before taking any type of supplements, especially as part of a regiment. But for me, as enticing as limitless amounts of energy sounds, I think I’ll just be sticking to my cup of coffee every morning.

References

  1. Efficacy and safety of ingredients found in preworkout supplements – American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy
  2. Ingesting a preworkout supplement containing caffeine, creatine, β-alanine, amino acids, and B vitamins for 28 days is both safe and efficacious in recreationally active men Research Journal
  3. The effects of a pre-workout supplement containing caffeine, creatine, and amino acids during three weeks of high-intensity exercise on aerobic and anaerobic performance – Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition
  4. Caffeine and Creatine Use in Sport – Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism
  5. Army Studies Workout Supplements After Deaths – The New York Times
  6. Role of beta-alanine supplementation on muscle carnosine and exercise performance – Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise
  7. Acute l-arginine supplementation reduces the O2 cost of moderate-intensity exercise and enhances high-intensity exercise tolerance – Journal of Applied Physiology
  8. Feature: Revealing the hidden dangers of dietary supplements – American Association for the Advancement of Science
  9. DMAA in Dietary Supplements – US Food and Drug Administration

The Trap of Consumerism and Health

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Health is an increasing value in America, especially in our time and age where obesity is considered an “epidemic” and liposuction is one of the most popular cosmetic surgeries in the world. There is currently a surplus of weight loss and diet fads ranging from diet pills to slimming waist trainers sported by celebrities like the Kardashians. However, how many of these fads are really making you healthier? Many corporations are cashing in on people’s insecurities by creating these “get skinny” quick schemes. It would seem that a lot of these ploys are about looking good rather than feeling good.

Do They Work?

Recently, Dr. Oz went under fire for claiming that Raspberry Ketone and Green Coffee Bean Extract pills are “miracle weight loss pills.” However, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, “more than two-thirds (68.8 percent) of adults are considered to be overweight or obese.” If these pills are a magical miracle, then why are so many Americans still overweight?

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“But I’m so innocent!

Let’s Get the Facts Straight

A bottle of these supplements typically come in two sizes, 30 or 60 supplements. Depending on the brand, a bottle of 60 can cost about $16 dollars. It is instructed to take a pill with each meal, that’s three pills a day so a bottle would last you less than a month. Most pills claim all these great fantastical things but all of their studies and statistics are not actually tested on humans. According to the Huffington Post, “to date, there have been no human studies showing that raspberry ketones burn fat or benefit your weight loss.” Existing studies have actually been done on rats! Although we are all living things, the human body is very different from that of a rodent’s.

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What Should I Do Then?

Pills that claim you do not need diet and exercise are just plain silly. These “get skinny” quick schemes fool people by saying things like, “Get the body you deserve now! Try ________.” But in reality, there can’t be results without hard work. There’s no magic drink, pill, or fairy dust to sprinkle over your food that will make you healthy. This is the trap that consumerism sets in their sales of health products.

The power of health lies within ourselves. In our efforts, our determination, and our happiness. Only you can make you healthy. We live in a time where people are stigmatized for bad and good health. The way we are taught to perceive things are: A few extra pounds? Blame their eating habits. A few pounds lighter? Give credit to the supplement pills. Society teaches us to view things in binaries: beautiful/ugly, small/big. Because of that, we often can only see things as good or bad. However, think of it this way, muscles weigh more than fat. Someone whom is muscular and completely healthy may weigh the same, even more than someone with a higher body fat percentage. Being skinny does not define being healthy. We have overbearing social constructs trying to impose themselves on us, but we have the power to define ourselves. We can’t necessarily control what people think about us, but we can control how we feel.