Beef Protein Supplements – Breakthrough or Fad?

beef proteinEveryone with a keen interest in fitness and exercise knows the importance of protein in the diet. We also know it’s important to eat adequate protein before and after a workout to prevent muscle tissue breakdown and encourage growth. But sometimes this may be inconvenient. For example, some people bring meals to the gym with them and carry their food containers everywhere religiously. Perhaps you’re not willing to make that kind of sacrifice or you simply cannot stomach another chicken breast. That’s ok. This is why protein supplements were invented and over time they have gained great popularity in the fitness world. The most popular kind is whey protein – made from milk. But recently a new contestant appeared on the market – beef protein supplements.

High Quality Protein

Not all protein is equally easily digested and absorbed. The most efficient protein is found in eggs – as much as 94% of the protein is used by the body. Research shows the beef protein, given the right conditions can be as well absorbed as egg. A study published in the Journal of Nutrition has found:

“In cases where the protein value amounted to 15% of the diet, the protein derived from beef showed no cysteine deficiency, and the value used for growth was the same as of egg protein.”

To compare, cow milk protein’s biological value is, on average, 60%. Even though some whey formulas are fully absorbable they often contain sugar which slows down the protein digestion. Beef protein powders such as Muscle Meds Carnivor do not contain sugar. Moreover whey is digested in the intestine which often causes bloating and gastric issues. Beef protein’s digestion takes place in the stomach which should alleviate the swelling and gastrointestinal issues associated with drinking whey.

So you think you’re drinking a beautiful lean steak? Think again. What many people find unsettling is that beef protein powder is sourced from gelatin. Gelatin is made from cattle bones, hooves, ligaments, hides, ears, and other byproducts from the beef and leather industries.

Muscle Meds Carnivor Review

As an example, let’s look at the Muscle Meds product Carnivor. It contains 63% protein which compared to other brands is a bit disappointing. Also, compared to other beef protein products it is high in carbs (21/100g). On the plus side it does not contain any sugars and it is vitamin and mineral enriched. It truly is a great supplement for putting on lean muscle mass. The major downside is the truly horrible flavor – I found Vanilla Caramel revolting. On the plus side it’s quite easy on the stomach and efficient.

 Trial and Error

Hopefully in the coming years the beef supplements will develop even further and evolve into something with a less repulsive flavor. For now, I recommend you try and find a supplement that works for you personally. Remember, shakes should not be used as meal substitution. They can be an occasional addition to a healthy balanced diet but shouldn’t replace your real food protein sources.





Sugar Addiction – Fact or Myth



Can sugar consumption really be called an addiction? Even though you may think this is a bit of an exaggeration, think about the withdrawal symptoms. They really can be compared to those of a quitting alcoholic. Both mental and physical symptoms are tough and quite intense. Experiments conducted on rats show that the animals deprived of sugar had lower levels of pleasure – stimulating dopamine, and they suffered from anxiety and the shakes. Except for headaches, the usual withdrawal symptoms include: low mood, anxiety, fatigue — and daydreams of binging on sugary treats. It all sounds too real when you consider the research that proves you can actually get hooked on sugar. Scientists have found that it’s addictive and stimulates the same pleasure centers of the brain as cocaine or heroin. So similarly to a drug addict, if you want to free yourself once and for all you have to go through the painful process of detoxing.sugar

How it affects your taste

In a California study, researchers found that most subjects stop feeling cravings after 2-3 days and 87 per cent were feeling ‘clean’ and free from cravings after 6 days. On top of that, after such detox, you require less sugar, your palate changes and food seem ‘sweeter’.

Further benefits of detoxing

Not only will you feel better and experience less sugar crashes and cravings. Most of all, it will benefit your health and decrease risk of diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Lots of sugar can have terrible consequences such as a premature death
connected to a cardiovascular disease or cancer.

 How to fight the sweet tooth

1.    Substitute sweets with fruit.

Choose the low GI low sugar fruit such as berries and eat them in moderation. The will help you resist eating refined sugar found in sweets. 

2.    Beware of artificial sweeteners.
Even though small amounts of diet soda or sugar free sweets can help you in times of crisis, be careful as artificial sweeteners are known to increase appetite.

3.    Clear your house of temptation.
It will be much easier to fight cravings if you don’t see any sweets around you – simple as that.

4.    Look for constructive distractions
If you find yourself struggling, take your mind off it – go out for a walk, watch a movie, go work out. Be proactive and avoid dwelling on your cravings.

Although some experts recommend reducing your sugar intake over time, dietician Carole sugar affectsBartolotto believes that cutting it out altogether is the best way to get through a detox. According to her going ‘cold turkey’, as hard as it may be is the quickest and most effective way to fight the addiction.

Why Carbohydrates are important in your diet


Carbs as the enemy – fact or myth?

Carbohydrates have acquired a very bad reputation recently and many blame the obesity epidemic on the high consumption of carbs and sugar.  They are one of the basic food groups and can be divided into sugar, starches and fiber.  Carbohydrates are broken down in our bodies into glucose and then used for energy.  Unused glucose is stored in the body mainly in the liver and as fat tissue.

Types of Carbs

There are two types of carbs  – simple and complex. Simple carbohydrates refer to sugars, with a simple molecular construction of one or two parts.  Due to such a simple build the body quickly generating an energy spike followed by a low can process these. We all know this as the ‘sugar crash’. Most processed foods contain sugar which has little nutritional value (with a few exceptions we will talk about later). Unfortunately, this combined with huge amounts of saturated fat is the main ingredient of the modern western diet – hence the obesity and heart issues. Sugar can be found in sodas, fruit and fruit juices, candy, white bread and pasta etc. Not all simple carbs are bad, for example fruit and dairy should be an integral part of a balanced diet and they provide fiber and protein as well as vitamins. For people who train regularly, carbohydrates and carbohydrate supplements can be an excellent source of energy and matched with good timing they help burn fat and build muscle.carb type

Complex carbohydrates refer to sugars with a complex molecular structure of three or more parts; due to the complex structure of these molecules it takes the body longer to break them down to glucose and because of it the glucose levels in the bloodstream steady. The energy lasts for a longer period of time which means we don’t ‘crash’ and it can be used up throughout the day rather than stored as fat. Complex carb sources include whole grains, whole meal bread,cereals, oats, pasta, brown rice ,etc.

Glycemic Index

You may have heard the term ‘Glycemic Index’ before. This is simply a measure that tells you how quickly the glucose is released into the bloodstream. High GI foods are the simple carbs – released quickly and spiking blood sugar levels and low GI are the complex, slow processed ones. For fit, active individuals, both are important and if used correctly they can benefit the health, performance and physique.

Consume carbs wisely

Of course, unnecessary amounts of carbohydrates just like any other type of food in excess will make you fat.  But there are multiple reasons why carbs actually help with weight loss and fat burning as well as promoting muscle gain.

Reason 1.

Researchers followed the eating habits of middle-aged women for nearly two years and found that those who increased their fiber intake generally lost weight. Women who decreased the fiber in their diets gained. Many complex carbohydrates contain dietary fiber which we can’t digest but it helps us feel full and keep the digestive system in check.

Reason 2.

During exercise, carbohydrates stored in the muscles as glycogen are broken down into glucose and released to the muscle for energy. If your workouts are intense you will need carbs for energy. If you prefer to eat a few hours before your workout – choose complex carbs and if you choose a pre-workout meal (around 1 hr before) opt for simple carbs that will hit your bloodstream quick. This is a scenario where the sugar will not be stored as fat but used to build muscle. Choose a fruit or a carb drink to avoid stuffing yourself before training. After a strenuous bodybuilding style workout you will have depleted around 30 percent glycogen from your muscles. You may want to replenish that with another small serving of high GI carbs post workout.

Reason 3.

When you decrease your carbohydrate intake for too long on a low-calorie diet, your thyroid and the hormones it controls can be impacted. Since certain thyroid hormones regulate your rate of metabolism – the amount of daily energy you spend at rest – your results will slow or stall completely. Carbohydrates store water, so don’t be fooled by the fact that you ‘lose’ a lot of weight without them, you simply lose water.

Whether you choose a low- or high  – carb diet keep in mind two main principles: to lose fat you need to count calories and choose healthy, unprocessed foods – carbs or no carbs!

How Much Protein Can I Take at Once

how much protein

As you probably already know – protein – the ‘building blocks’ of all of our cells is crucial for all bodily functions. It regulates processes such as tissue growth and regeneration as well as managing and producing hormones.  You may also know that it’s very important to have a high protein diet especially if you are an athlete or you have a hard training routine. After a workout our muscle fibers are ‘torn’ and have to be regenerated and repaired as soon as possible. Protein has such anti-catabolic properties and helps our cells (including muscle) grow and recover. It has also been established that 30 minutes before and after workout are the optimal times to consume protein (or extra protein) in order to reduce catabolism and maximize muscle growth. But how much is too much? Can an unlimited amount of protein be consumed at any given time?

Basically, when we ingest protein, the stomach breaks it down to amino acids by means of stomach acid and enzymes. Amino acids are then transported into the small intestine and further into the bloodstream. They are then distributed into all the various cells in your body. But the small intestine can only shoot a limited number of amino acids into our bloodstreams per hour. This is why only a limited amount of protein can be absorbed at any given time. According to estimates whey protein can be absorbed at a rate of 8 to 10 grams/hr casein at ~6.1 g/hr, soy at ~3.9 g/hr, and cooked egg at ~2.9 g/hr. Also, according to another study, our muscles won’t use more than 30 grams of protein consumed at one meal. Unfortunately this matter can’t be simplified as it all depends on numerous factors. Some of those include:

-Type of protein eaten- whether its Whey Protein Gold Standard or a steak?
-What are you eating it with? On its own or with fat and carbs?
-The fiber content of the whole meal – more fiber equals slower absorption
-When you last ate – are you full or hungry?

These factors can affect the protein absorption. For example a steak will take longer to be broken down and move through your digestive system and therefore you will benefit more from a steak than chugging 3 whey shakes at a time.  Also, as much as the protein will be used in your body, it may not be used for muscle building in excess of the said 30-40 grams.

This information is crucial, not only in order to maximize muscle growth and anti-catabolism but also to avoid over – consuming protein and storing the excess as fat. Keep in mind that it is still important to stick to the recommended daily intake. Spreading it out through the day and increasing your pre- and post -workout intake will maximize your muscle and strength gains. Try to have a balanced diet and alternate between supplements and whole foods rather than drinking shake after shake. Many sources agree that you should be getting most of your protein from food and limit your supplementation to 2 shakes a day, such as Rule One Protein, to maintain balance and health.

How much protein Should I be taking?

how much protein Many people have doubts when it comes to establishing their macros (amount of carbs, protein and fat they should eat everyday). Between the vast amount of advice on the internet and official government health organization recommendations this can be a truly confusing task. Basically the general recommendation is to eat 0.8g/kg of bodyweight. This means that an average sedentary man, weighing 80kg should consume 64 grams of protein a day. But of course, that all depends not only on your size and lifestyle but also your goals.

Function of Protein

Protein is the building block of every cell of your body. It is the most abundant substance in your system, after water.  Repair and growth are one of the vital functions of protein which is one of the reasons children and physically active people require more than sedentary adults. It can also be used for energy, but in case of sufficient carbohydrate intake spare protein will be turned into fat. Protein is involved in the regulation and metabolism of some hormones and enzymes. These are responsible for regulating vital bodily function.  For example insulin is a small protein – a hormone that regulates blood sugar. Protein also forms precious antibodies that help fight illness and disease.

So How Much Do I Need?

If you train regularly for fat loss and muscle gain you will need around 2g/kg of bodyweight. Intense training breaks down your muscles and in order for them to regenerate and grow you will need to provide it with lots of quality protein. If you find it hard to eat protein rich foods, you can help yourself with protein shakes and bars. According to Dr Karen Reid, a sports science nutritionist, after a while you can reduce this intake down to 1.2-1.6g/kg of bodyweight or if your training is not as intense as the bodybuilding regime you can also take in less than 2g/kg. For those dieting for fat loss this is also beneficial as protein provides satiety and helps you stick to a clean diet and lose weight. Apart from your usual food protein try a shake before and after workout.

How Much is Too Much?

Stuffing your face with 10 steaks at a time is neither reasonable nor beneficial. There are a few main reasons for that.

Firstly, your muscles will not grow automatically from consuming protein. In fact, without the energetic expenditure protein will simply be transformed into fat cells. However, remember that swapping carbs for protein will enable weight loss.  Your body burns fat before it does protein.

Secondly, you can only absorb around 30g of protein at a time. Now you know why bodybuilders eat little and often. Thirdly, timing matters so try to focus your intake around workouts. The 30-minute post-workout window is when you need this rapidly absorbed protein to optimize muscle repair and growth. This is when you will need a simple quick snack such as a whey shake like Rule 1 Protein or Whey Protein Gold Standard some milk.

Lastly, too much unneeded protein and nitrogen from the amino acids puts extra strain on your liver and kidneys, which have to filter it out.