A Beginner’s Guide to BCAAs

So you’ve committed to the life of gains, pushing through the pain, sweating before work and putting up weight after dinner. You’ve committed to elevating yourself to a level reserved for the truly dedicated, for those that don’t understand the term “off season.” Every serious athlete on the planet knows that supplements are essential to performing at an elite level, and finding a supplement program that can aid in recovery and enhance performance is crucial.

BCAAs, or Branched Chain Amino Acids (leucine, isoleucine and valine), are essential amino acids that must be consumed through diet and are not produced naturally by our bodies. BCAAs are quickly becoming an essential part of most serious athlete’s supplementation programs, and for good reason as more and more research is showing the benefits of BCAA’s.

To get you started, we have highlighted four ways that BCAAs could benefit you and help you reach your goals faster.

1. Protein Synthesis

One of the key benefits of BCAAs is that they have been shown to stimulate protein synthesis. This not only helps in muscle gain, as BCAA’s are the building blocks of protein, which in turn are the building blocks of muscle and mass, but also aids recovery. This expedited recovery means you can get back into the gym faster after intense workouts.

2. Improves Endurance

When you push hard in the gym or out in the field, your body releases tryptophan into the brain, increasing serotonin levels and making you feel tired. BCAAs actually compete with the tryptophan and can lead to longer and more intense workouts. Going longer and stronger only means bigger gains and ultimately increased energy.

3. Helps Maintain Muscle Mass

There’s a plethora of reasons for dieting, from trying to slim for a fit comp to trying to drop some weight pre-beach season. However, for serious bodybuilders, losing muscle mass through catabolic dieting is less than ideal. When you are both dieting and training, your body looks for energy that is generally stored in fat cells. When you cut fat out, your body turns to muscle for fuel during even moderate exercise. By stimulating protein synthesis, you can counteract the effects of protein breakdown, which means that you can lose weight without losing a significant amount of muscle mass.

4. Supports Immune System

When you are consistently pushing your body, you are consistently putting stress on your immune system. Without adequate supplementation, you can may actually increase your risk of illness. By supplementing with the adequate amount of BCAAs, you’re aiding immune system function, especially in those over 35, who are naturally seeing decreased protein synthesis due to aging.

So if you’re looking for a no BS source of the purest BCAAs on the planet, you’ve come to the right place. Check out our complete performance line here.

Yours in Health,

Courtney

Everything You Know About Lactic Acid Is Wrong

For a semi-serious athlete, Jeremy Rosenberg is not unusual. The Los Angeles-based book editor is a weekend warrior on the city’s soccer fields, but says he pays for it after most games.

“A couple of hours after I play I feel like what I imagine a whirling dervish does: A post-ecstatic mental state combined with being totally physically drained,” says Rosenberg. “As long as I don’t stop playing, I feel great. But stopping means soreness.”

Rosenberg and his fellow players don’t pretend to be physical therapists or exercise scientists, but they confidently throw around the same term to explain their aching muscles: Lactic acid buildup.

Ah, lactic acid, the much maligned (and misunderstood) participant in the body’s metabolic energy systems. But Rosenberg and his mates can be forgiven: Many trainers and even some physicians make the same mistake, blaming lactic acid not only for the deep muscle burn felt during exercise and the intense ache afterwards, but also for calling it lactic acid in the first place.

“One of the long-standing myths in exercise science and popular culture is that lactic acid causes fatigue,” explains Lance Dalleck, an assistant professor of exercise and sport science at Western State Colorado University. The only problem is that the body doesn’t produce lactic acid, not even during intense exercise. “Lactic acid only exists in sour milk,” says Dalleck, “and blood and sour milk have markedly different mediums.”

 

What People Actually Mean by “Lactic Acid Buildup”

What most people are referring to when they say “lactic acid” is actually lactate, and it’s not responsible for the burn you feel in your legs after running intervals or peddling furiously to keep up with the peloton in a road race. Nor is it responsible for the soreness you may feel up to 48 hours after a tough workout, as many believe. Indeed, it’s not a waste product of exercise at all. On the contrary, lactate helps to delay fatigue, and can even serve as a fuel for your muscles, says Dalleck.

 

How Lactate Got Confused With Lactic Acid

The whole misunderstanding dates back to a 1922 study by two British scientists, Otto Meyerhoff and Archibald V. Hill. In their Nobel-Prize winning research investigating the energy capabilities of carbohydrate metabolism in skeletal muscle, they suggested that lactic acid is produced in humans as a side reaction to glycolysis (the breakdown of glucose to fuel muscle activity).

And that’s essentially how it’s been explained ever since: Lactic acid is a sort of residue from your muscles burning fuel, and its buildup is what causes the burn and ache athletes commonly experience during and after intense effort. Because after all, acid burns, right?

What recent studies have found fairly conclusively is that while lactic acid—or more accurately, lactate—coincides with “acidosis” in muscles, it’s not the cause.

 

So How Does Lactic Acid Buildup Affect Muscles?

First, I thought we agreed to call it “lactate.” Second, a quick review of how the body uses and produces energy is probably in order.

There are two primary means by which physical activity is powered: aerobically, which requires oxygen, and anaerobically, which doesn’t. Which energy system dominates during a given activity depends on its intensity.

In the case of high-intensity exercise—say, sprinting—demand for the quick, anaerobic form of energy forces muscles to gobble up ATP, the body’s primary energy source. In the process, each ATP molecule is then broken down into ADP plus a hydrogen ion, or proton. “It’s the increase in these protons that causes acidification, known as acidosis, and that does burn,” says Dalleck.

That burn typically kicks in at around 85 percent of your maximum heart rate, otherwise known as the lactate threshold. This is the point at which the body produces these protons faster than it can remove them. In the case of low-intensity aerobic exercise—say, jogging—those protons don’t accumulate fast enough to inhibit muscle function.

Similar to how fever is a symptom of being sick rather than the reason for it, lactate is merely symptomatic of the process that causes acidosis. As these protons build up during high-intensity exercise, pyruvate molecules produced during the last step of glycolysis mentioned earlier, do too. And each of these pyruvate molecules absorbs two protons to create… lactate, explaining its presence, and why it’s erroneously implicated in muscle burn.

Thus, lactate production is actually a consequence of acidosis, not the cause and, much the same way a fever is the immune system’s way of combating infection, helps buffer its negative effects. What’s more, during moderate to hard exercise, lactate can even be shuttled back into mitochondria (i.e., the power plant of a cell) and converted into energy.

But at some point during intense exercise, the buildup of protons overwhelms the ability of pyruvate to absorb them. That’s when you feel the burn, and that’s when you have to take matters into your own hands.

 

How to Prevent Exercise-Induced Acidosis

Your best bet here is beta-alanine, an amino acid that combines with another amino acid called L-histidine to create a substance called carnosine, which acts as a buffer against acid buildup in muscle tissue.

You’ll find carnosine in beef, but you’d need to eat a whole lot of it to receive an effective dose for improving exercise performance. And since there’s already plenty of L-histadine circulating in your body, supplementing with beta-alanine is the most efficient method for creating performance-enhancing levels of carnosine at the cellular level. (Unabashed product plug: Beta alanine is one of the primary ingredients in Beachbody Performance Energize, our most powerful performance booster to date.)

Because it takes time to elevate carnosine concentration, results typically occur after one to two months of daily use. The only common side effect from beta-alanine consumption is a harmless, but potentially uncomfortable symptom called paresthesia. It’s characterized by a tingling sensation throughout the body, and most often occurs with high doses. If you experience paresthesia, try taking smaller (i.e., less than 800 mg) doses of beta-alanine throughout the day instead of one large one.

 

Does Lactate Cause Muscle Soreness?

Along with acidosis, lactate is also frequently blamed for delayed onset muscle soreness(DOMS), which can occur as soon as six hours after exercise, and usually peaks 48 hours afterward. The blame is misplaced here as well, as DOMS is caused by micro-tears in muscle, not the buildup of lactate. Still, there are several steps you can take to ease the ache.

Pop Some Ibuprofen (Maybe)

The soreness you feel after a tough workout is the result of swelling and inflammation caused by the micro tears mentioned earlier. Popping Ibuprofen, which is an anti-inflammatory, can significantly reduce the pain, according to a study by Greek researchers in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.

But that relief may come at a price. An ever-growing body of research has also linked NSAIDs (including ibuprofen) to everything from cardiovascular issues and intestinal dysfunction to suppressed protein synthesis post-exercise. Occasionally taking a couple capsules for muscle soreness is probably just fine—but give some serious thought before using it regularly.

Take Tart Cherry Extract

Doing so can help reduce DOMS not only after a tough endurance workout, but also after intense resistance training, according to two separate studies (available for viewing here and here) at Texas A&M University. Both studies supported the results of previous research, showing that tart cherries can reduce muscle breakdown and inflammation, thereby reducing soreness.

Give Yourself a Massage

Using a foam roller to knead your muscles post-workout can significantly reduce DOMS, according to a recent study in the International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy. Give each major muscle group at least five rolls, starting with your calves and working your way up your body. Spend extra time on sore spots.

Wear Compression Gear

People who wear compression garments after their workout experience less soreness and faster muscle recovery than people who wear a more traditional gym outfit, like a t-shirt and shorts, according to a recent study in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine. The reason: By compressing the muscle, such garments help reduce swelling and pressure.

Here are 5 other ways to prevent muscle soreness.

Originally shared: https://www.beachbodyondemand.com/blog/everything-you-thought-you-knew-about-lactic-acid-is-wrong

Tips To Prevent Post Workout Acne

Have you noticed that your skin breaks out after a rigorous exercise session? It’s great to know that you’re supporting your lungs, heart, and muscles when you exercise— not so great to see the pimply aftermath.
Here are some tips to prevent post-workout acne so you can stay fit and have smooth, blemish free skin too!

Why It Happens
Before we get into preventing post-workout acne, let’s look at why it happens to some people. Acne typically occurs when bacteria get into the pores of your face. Maybe you touched a yoga mat or some gym equipment covered in bacteria, and then you transferred it to your skin by touching your face. Perhaps you used a dirty towel to wipe sweat from your cheeks and forehead.

You might have worked out a little too hard, overheating your body and stimulating hives. Or maybe your hair is getting into your face as you work out, carrying bacteria and hair products to clog your pores. Even though sweat doesn’t contain bacteria, it can carry bacteria from your skin into your pores if you don’t wash your face soon after exercising.

Here are some tips to prevent the post-workout break outs.

Use a Clean Towel
Instead of keeping the same towel in your gym bag, bring a fresh one to each exercise session. Don’t wipe sweat from your face with your hands or shirt— only use the clean towel.

Take Off the Makeup
Sure, you want to look good while exercising— who wouldn’t? But it’s more important to keep your skin clear for other occasions, so ditch the makeup before you start your workout.

When you start to sweat, the moisture mixes with the makeup and bacteria on the skin, moving into pores and clogging them.
Wash your face with a mild cleanser right before the workout and again right after your exercise.

Keep Your Hair Back
There’s a reason most women wear their hair back when they exercise. It gets sweaty and in the way, but can also transfer bacteria to your face.

When I’m exercising, my hair tends to swing right into my face unless I tie it back (so annoying). Use a hair band to secure your hair in a ponytail or bun. If your hair is too short to go into a ponytail, you can use a breathable, moisture-wicking headband instead.

Try not to touch your hair while your exercising to prevent the spread of bacteria.

Clean the Machine
Of course, your clean towel can still pick up germs and bacteria if you drape it over an exercise machine that others have used. If your gym supplies antibacterial wipes, use them to wipe the machine’s surfaces, where your hands or towel will touch. You can always bring your own cleaning wipes as well, if the gym doesn’t offer them.

Wear Comfortable Clothes
Okay ladies, let’s face it— the breakouts don’t always show up on your face. The crotch area, inner thighs, and chest areas can also suffer from post-workout acne. Clothing that is too tight or not breathable enough can cause excessive friction or trap body heat, leading to breakouts.

If this is a problem for you, choose loose-fitting exercise clothes made from natural fabrics. Anything comfortable and moisture-wicking is perfect to help you exercise in comfort.

Take a Shower
After a hot, sweaty workout, a shower feels amazing. Plus, the running water and soap carry away all the bacteria, germs, sweat, oils, and products that could block your pores. Try to shower as soon as possible after each exercise session.

Hydrate
So many physical issues and conditions can be improved by simply staying hydrated! Drink your 8-10 glasses of water every day, and you’ll not only feel better— your skin will look better, too!

As you’re incorporating these habits to prevent post-workout acne, keep a close eye on your skin’s condition. Do you notice a worsening of acne when you use a specific workout machine or exercise in hotter conditions? Maybe the machine just isn’t clean, or your skin is more sensitive to heat.

A small change in your exercise pattern may help control future breakouts. Let us know if you have any extra tips that might help! xx

 

How To Create Fitness Habits To Get The Body You Want… FOREVER!

How To Create Fitness Habits To Get The Body You Want… FOREVER!

So you’ve decided it’s finally time to get into your best shape ever, and you’ve started a new workout plan! You’re so motivated and things are going great. But I’m sure you’ve been here before, right?

This isn’t the first time you’ve started a new workout plan. Usually you do great for a while, but then eventually you lose motivation and give up. Sound familiar?

You have seen other people stick to it, even some of your friends, going and working out daily, eating healthy every day! How do they make that work and keep going? I’m just as motivated as them! How do they do it?!

Here’s the secret – habits last, motivation doesn’t.

I’m going to tell you how to create fitness habits to get the body you want, and how to keep it forever!

I want to share with you a story. When I FIRST signed up for home workouts 2 years ago, I joined with one of my best friends. She had already been doing them for a while so she knew all the best workouts and which ones to recommend. We started doing our workouts together.I made the effort to go every single day after work, and I quickly fell in love!  We would meet at one of our houses and crush it out.

But my girlfriend was a little more irregular. Sometimes work or life would get in the way and she would be too late to meet so she would cancel. Some weeks she would still do her workouts without me but most of the time, she skipped them all together. There was no pattern. When she did workout, she would always work super hard! But she never gave herself any credit. 

Slowly, she started hitting play less and less, and I was there still doing my regular workouts. After awhile, I just expected that she would not be getting back into the routine so it become normal for me to exercise on my own. 

2 years later, I’m still working out at least 4 times per week. And my girlfriend rarely makes an appearance or shares her workout. I was in the best health I’ve ever been in. Meanwhile, my friend was still struggling with i) her body image, and ii) finding the motivation to exercise.

So what was the difference? Was I more motivated? Well, maybe a little. Did I have better willpower?  Hell no…..I still struggle… But the key difference was that I simply made it a habit. I had my regular times and workouts that I completed each week. It made ALL the difference.  There were no excuses….I had it on my calendar, I had it as a reminder, I made sure that I had the workout getting my

attention.

Here’s a different example of how habits work.

Have you ever been walking or driving (i.e. to work) to discover that you arrived at the place you wanted without consciously thinking about it?

That’s because walking or driving to that place was a HABIT that was engraved into your brain.

You can use this same HABIT mechanism to get your dream body. Developing habits will help you achieve your fitness goals much easier, and will also ensure that the results stick with you for a very long time.

How Can You Do It?

After reading and implementing the things in this blog post, you can transform your health and shrink your waist.

How do you achieve this?

Is it a miracle?

NO.

Your brain holds all the power. 

Developing a habit takes a bit of effort (especially at the beginning), but trust me… it’s totally worth it!

The science behind creating habits is SO IMPORTANT in starting a new fitness routine. Set yours up for success by incorporating these 3 habit forming steps into your life.

The 3 R’s of Habits

Reminder

The first step in starting a new habit, is creating reminders to do the habit regularly.

Many of my clients start off their day with our superfood shake so they get their 10 cups of vegetables for the day.  It becomes a staple in their routine as they feel the difference almost immediately but they keep it visible so it’s easy to see every morning.  I keep mine beside the coffee maker.

Your blender will serve as a visual reminder for your new habit.  And small reminders like this can help you start the habit!  Another way to create reminders is to schedule alerts in your phone.  Smoothie….drink water….get up and walk for 5 mins, workout, meditate, all of these things you can set up as alarms in your phone and it will keep your mind on the habit you have set out.

Routine

This is what you actually do as your healthy habit. Make it as EASY AS POSSIBLE to make this healthy activity a habit.

So if you’re starting the habit of having a healthy breakfast smoothie:

  • Make sure you know exactly what is going to go in that smoothie so you don’t have to think in the morning.  For me, I use cashew milk, spinach and a scoop of Strawberry Shakeology, blend and go. Super simple and doesn’t require tons of time or prep.
  • Prepare meals for work or on the go in advance. If you have ready to go snacks and meals, you are less likely to leave the office and look for cheap fast food. 

If your new habit is incorporating a workout after work, here are a few tips to help keep that routine:

  • Home workouts have become my JAM!!!  Don’t have to fight over equipment or walk into a room that smells like balls.  Yuck. If I am a terrible dancer, it’s totally fine because no one can see me.  And let’s face it ladies, no one wants to be in a hot, sweaty room with 40 other gals when someone let’s out a protein fart.  They exist and are horrendous! 
  • If you want a gym, find one that is close to your work or house. Even better if you need to drive past it on your way home from work! You don’t want to go somewhere that is inconvenient for you.
  • Make a plan on how many days you will exercise per week. Don’t just go when you can. Make a plan (i.e. day and time), put it in your calendar, and make it a top priority!
  • Know exactly what type of exercise you’re going to do at the gym. You could do a gym class, or get help from a personal trainer, or try an online program. But have this planned out in advance.  My workout programs for our clients are top of the line and have specific workouts for each day.  You never have to wonder what workout should be done and we keep it different so you can keep progressing.
Get a free trial of our home workouts HERE

When starting a new habit and making it part of your daily routine, you need a plan. I’m sure you’ve heard the quote “failing to plan is planning to fail.” And it’s true. You need a plan to follow and something to work towards.

Reward

After you have done the habit,reward yourself. You should ALWAYS reward yourself – even if you’ve done the activity 50 times already.

We often think that if we reward ourselves once or twice, that’s enough. But it’s not. To aid our brain in establishing a life-long habit, we should give ourselves a small reward for at least 6 months after starting the new habit (but preferably forever!).

You should be nice to yourself. You are working hard. Reward yourself – always 

So what should the reward be? It can be ANYTHING, even something small! Here are a few ideas:

  • Watch your favorite TV show on Netflix but only if you have done your workout and had a good food day
  • Take a 5-10 minute break for yourself. Lay down and listen to soft music, or listen to a 10 minute guided meditation on Youtube. We don’t always take enough time for ourselves, and free time can sometimes be a treat!
  • Drop a dollar in a jar.  At the end of every month when you follow your routines and habits, you will have some spending cash to buy new clothes since yours will be too big.
  • If you write a daily to-do list, you can cross it off as done. This simple act of crossing something off as “done” can be a satisfying reward.
  • If you are married or have a significant other, naked wrestling after a hard workout is always a great reward ?

The reward should be easy to obtain. Rewards that involve other people don’t usually work, because that friend needs to be near you or available at any time. And make sure the reward doesn’t sabotage your fitness efforts. Eating healthy and working out are huge victories! Do not to reward yourself with chocolate or alcohol, or something that will set you back.

It has been said that new habits begin to gel after 21 days. But that’s just for starters. It can take 60 days (or even more!) for a new habit to become automatic.

The good news is that missing the activity one time, isn’t the end of the world. Have patience and be kind to yourself. Developing a habit is hard and you won’t be perrrrfect. If you miss it once, just try again next time.

If you still find yourself struggling, consider working with a coach. My whole purpose is to keep you accountable and progressing towards your goal.  We communicate through text reminders, emails, messenger, whatever you need to get the job done, we are there. 

Following these 3 R’s will help you continue that healthy habit forever. And healthy habits forever = a long happy, healthy life!  If you want to discuss working with me, send me an email courtneygiffordbb@gmail.com