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Hardening the Muscle Through Applied Nutrition
I know you. Or at least I know most of you. You're right, maybe we've
never met, but let me prove myself by telling you what I know about you.
You live the "bodybuilding lifestyle" to it's fullest. If
you're faced with either being late for a date or missing a workout, you are late for the
date. If you have a choice of pizza & beer, or chicken, a baked potato, and broccoli,
you take the latter. Even when tempted to sleep in, you climb out of bed anyway and do 30
minutes on the bike or the stair climber. And when offered the illegal
"quick-fix" to your physique, you just say no.
However, as time passes by, you're more and more tempted to stop
saying no. You begin to convince yourself that steroids aren't really cheating, and that
the side effects could never happen to you anyway. So what if things might happen at age
50, 60, or 70? That period of time is so far away that it doesn't even justify a second
thought. At your age, you're practically invincible! And of course you would never deal
drugs, so how much trouble could you really get into anyway?
But hold on just a minute. Think real hard about why you're being
swayed. Aren't you getting bigger and stronger on a regular basis? Aren't you more
committed to what you're doing than most of the users are? Then what's the big deal?
Steroid gains are only temporary at best. And believe me when I say that the low that can
come from a negative nitrogen balance at drug cessation is much lower than the high that
temporary gains can give you. You know most former steroid users gain back a very large
percentage of their strength and size anyway, they say that the thing they miss the most
is that "hard" look. Wait...did I just strike a nerve there? Hardness? Is that
what it's all about? Well rest easy my committed friends, we can effectively harden the
muscles through applied nutrition and proper use of branched chain amino acids (BCAA's).
Now, our first step will be to insure that the muscle fibers are being
worked to their fullest, and that they are allowed to recover completely between training
sessions. Next, lets make sure that we're getting loads of quality calories, proteins,
carbohydrates, and minimal fats. Quality muscle growth will not come without these things
in place. Be sure you're taking in a minimum of 1 to 1.5 grams of protein for every pound
of bodyweight daily. If you're not doing that, then backup a step and begin again. The
next step obviously is to investigate our options to achieve our goal of hardening the
muscle. For this, lets look very closely at the BCAA's.
BRANCHED CHAIN AMINO ACIDS?
BCAA's categorically belong to the eight essential amino acids which
means that they cannot be made in the body, so they must be ingested daily. Our daily
supply of the BCAA's comes from our food and food supplement intake.
These three amino acids, L-Leucine, L-Isoleucine, and L-Valine make up
about 35% of our muscle mass, and must be present for molecular growth and development to
take place. A deficiency of any one of these three aminos will result in muscle loss!
The tissue sparing capacities of BCAA's were illustrated in a
experiment using infected monkeys. The infected monkeys were intravenously fed with a
solution of BCAA's and other nutrients. The monkeys fed this solution did not experience
the tissue wasting normally associated with infection! Other amino acid solutions failed
to halt the tissue loss. Because of this, BCAA's have been used to prevent tissue wasting
in cancer therapy.
Unlike other amino acids, the BCAA's are metabolized in the muscle,
not the liver. The BCAA's are mutually antagonistic in their absorbative qualities,
therefore, they must all be available at the same time to insure maximum uptake into the
The BCAA's act as nitrogen carriers. They actually assist the muscles
in synthesizing other amino acids needed for anabolic muscle building action. When we eat
a high protein meal, the most rapidly absorbed amino acids are the BCAA's. They seem to
totally dominate the race for entry into the bloodstream. In fact, the BCAA's can account
for up to 90% of our total amino acid uptake in the three hours following a meal. In other
words, your muscles are hungry for the BCAA's in particular.
Please keep in mind however, that the bottom line for amino absorption
is elevated blood sugar, and insulin. Insulin without a doubt, is your body's major
anabolic hormone. So how do we best combine high insulin levels with BCAA's. First, we
make sure that the important co-factors are present in our diet and supplement regimes.
One of the most important of these co-factors is chromium. The most desired form of
chromium is picolinate. This mineral functions to increase the effectiveness of insulin.
As mentioned earlier, insulin is responsible for transporting the aminos to the muscle.
Taking BCAA's while being deficient in chromium will result in much less than ideal
Other co-factors should include zinc, which is a regulator of insulin,
vitamins B-6 & B-12 which are important in protein metabolism, and Biotin. A
significant portion of these co-factors will come from a good clean diet. However, I would
also recommend a good vitamin formula as well as mineral formula to insure that these
co-factors are present.
We find the ideal times to take the BCAA supplement is immediately
following a meal (to capitalize on the higher insulin levels), and immediately following
each workout, but never on an empty stomach. The post workout dose is to speed the BCAA's
to those hungry muscles while they are in a deprived state. I personally like to see them
taken with some form of a complex carbohydrate (simple sugars, especially fructose, are
not effective for restoring muscle glycogen) drink at this time. Everyone who has tried
this approach to getting hard, especially at contest time, has been pleasantly surprised
with the results.
In closing let me re-stress the fact that the bottom line to getting
hard is simply this. Protein is needed to build and repair muscle tissue. Protein is
comprised of amino acids. Your muscles are greedy when it comes to the BCAA's. The BCAA's
assist your muscles in synthesizing other amino acids for the building or anabolic
process. That's darn close to what steroids do. However for now, please continue to say no
to drugs, but an overwhelming yes to getting hard with a clean diet and mega-doses of a
quality BCAA supplement.