Shari Duncan

Tag: Recovery

BCAA’s: For Maximum Performance and Recovery

by on Feb.06, 2010, under Supplementation

Among the most beneficial and effective supplements in any sports nutrition program are the branched chain amino acids.

So, what do Branched-Chain Amino Acids do?

Amino Acids are the BUILDING BLOCKS of PROTEIN

The branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) are leucine, isoleucine, and valine. BCAAs are considered essential amino acids because the body cannot make them.  We must get them from our diets from complete protein foods or combinations of incomplete vegetable foods.  They are called branched-chain because their structure has a “branch” off the main trunk of the molecule. Branched-chain amino acids constitute approximately one-third of skeletal muscle protein.

A Recommended Source for BCAAs

A Recommended Source for BCAA's.

The essential branched chain amino acids (BCAA’s) are of special importance for athletes because they are metabolized in the muscle, rather than in the liver. In order to get energy, the body can actually break down muscle to get these BCAAs. Therefore, by supplying them during or after a workout, muscles and other tissues are spared from breakdown, which is a natural part of metabolism. Literature suggests that of the three BCAAs, leucine appears to play the most significant role in stimulating protein synthesis.

BCAAs are needed for the maintenance of muscle tissue and appear to preserve muscle stores of glycogen (a carbohydrate used as fuel during exercise).  There is evidence that supplementing with BCAA’s reduces muscle breakdown during exercise, increases protein synthesis, regulates blood sugar levels and aids in fat loss. Additionally, BCAAs have been studied for their potential role in delaying central nervous system (CNS) fatigue, especially in athletes.

Where are Branched-Chain Amino Acids found?

The largest amounts of BCAA’s are found in meat and dairy products.  Whey and egg protein supplements are other sources of BCAA’s

Individually, the three BCAA’s can be found in the following foods:

§          LEUCINE: meat, nuts, beans, brown rice, soy flour and whole wheat.

§          ISOLEUCINE: chicken, eggs, fish, meat, rye, almonds, cashews, chickpeas, lentils, soy protein and most seeds

$           VALINE:  meat, mushrooms, peanuts, dairy products, grains, and soy protein.

Most diets provide an adequate amount of BCAAs for most people, which is about 25–65 mg per 2.2 pounds of body weight.

However, it is recommended for those participating in intense training programs supplement with 5 grams of leucine, 4 grams of valine, and 2 grams of isoleucine per day to prevent muscle loss and increase muscle gain.

My recommendations for BCAA supplementation:

The ingredients in Core-ABC are ideal for maximizing exercise performance and aiding in recovery.

Maximize performance & aide in recovery.

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Don’t Forget to S T R E T C H !!

by on Jan.09, 2010, under Fitness, General HEALTH, Natural Bodybuilding

Stretching can be done anytime, anywhere.   Consider all of the benefits of stretching and why stretching really matters.

Flexibility for many is a goal in and of itself. Being able to take a joint through its full range of motion allows for more freedom of movement. Fitness activities like yoga and stretching concentrate on flexibility.  But so many of us overlook stretching as an integral part of our fitness programs or consider it a waste of time.  Experts agree however, if you want to achieve peak physical condition,  you need to stretch.  It is a powerful part of any exercise program. Most aerobic and strength training programs inherently cause muscles to contract and flex. Stretching after exercise promotes equal balance. Stretching also increases flexibility, improves range of motion of the joints and boosts circulation. Stretching can even promote better posture and relieve stress.

Benefits of a regular stretching program:      

Reduced muscle tension

Increased range of movement in the joints

Enhanced muscular coordination

Increased circulation of the blood to various parts of the body

Increased energy levels (resulting from increased circulation)

As stated before, Stretching improves flexibility. The most common forms of stretching exercises are static, sustained movements that are slow and controlled. Static stretches are thought to be safe for most people. They involve a slow, gentle stretch of the muscle that is held in a lengthened position for 10 to 60 seconds and repeated about three times.

Another type of stretching exercise is called dynamic stretching. Dynamic stretching involves gradual increases in your range of motion and speed of movement with a controlled swing (not bounce) that reach the limits of your range of motion in a controlled manner. You never force this type of stretch. Examples of dynamic stretching are slow, controlled leg swings, arm swings, or torso twists.

Dynamic stretching exercises improve flexibility required in most sports and are often performed after a warm up before aerobic exercise training. Dynamic stretching exercises include 10 to 12 repetitions of the movement.

Some people practice ballistic stretching exercises. Ballistic stretching uses momentum in an attempt to force a joint beyond its normal range of motion. Bouncing-type stretches are ballistic and very different from dynamic stretching because they try to force a greater range of motion. Be cautious, as there is an increased risk of injury (from overstretching the muscles, tendons or ligaments) with ballistic stretching

Stretching is important for people of all ages and fitness levels.  When range of motion increases, limbs and joints can move further before an injury occurs. Post-exercise stretching can also aid in workout recovery, decrease muscle soreness, and ensure that muscles and tendons are in good working order. The more conditioned muscles and tendons are, the better they can handle the rigors of sport and exercise, and the less likely that they’ll become injured.

Flexibility and Strength Training

If you lift weights, it’s even more important to stretch, and the best time to stretch is right after a workout. Stretching should not be done as a warm-up to an activity as you could injure your muscles if stretching them when they are cold. At least 3 to 5 minutes of cardiovascular training is recommended to warm up the muscles sufficiently. Stretching of fatigued muscles can increase flexibility and improve muscle building. Static stretching helps loosen muscles, removes lactic acid and prevents the muscle tissues from healing at a shorter length after a heavy workout.

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Exercise and Antioxidants

by on Jan.03, 2010, under General Nutrition, Natural Bodybuilding

Antioxidants are vitally important for general good health, but have additional benefits for those who exercise regularly.

Antioxidants are directly related in the prevention of cellular damage in the body; a common path for cancer, aging, and a multitude of diseases.  Free radicals form when oxygen interacts with certain molecules and start chain reactions that damage the cells.  We are exposed to huge amounts of free radicals from pollution, cigarette smoke and automobile emissions. Every time we eat, we consume free radicals in the form of pesticides and preservatives. Antioxidants create a defense system to prevent free radical damage to the body and assist in slowing down the aging rate of these cells, thereby helping your body to recover from exercise.

We all agree that exercise is extremely beneficial to our health; but it also increases production of extra free-


radical oxygen molecules. During weight training, certain compounds such as lactic acid build-up in the muscles and generate free-radical damage to cells which further breaks down muscle tissue.   Our bodies need antioxidants to keep oxygen working in a healthy way.  This is especially true for any person who is trying to exercise to help improve their fitness and weight loss.

Although our bodies produce antioxidants, we manufacture insufficient amounts to ward off the internal damage produced by the toxins in our environment. This is why ensuring a well balanced diet is so vital to overall good health and well-being.  5-9 servings of fruit or vegetables per day, along with a balanced exercise program is recommended to meet the needed nutrients for a fundamental antioxidant system. For most of us, it is a challenge to meet these basic, daily nutritional requirements. In this case, supplementation may be a benefit. Many vitamins and minerals contain anti-oxidant properties.

Those of us who participate in weight controlled sports and/or do not consume a well balanced diet may be at risk for vitamin deficiency. Sport nutrition experts suggest that those who exercise regularly take antioxidant supplements daily, particularly vitamin E (400 IU) and vitamin C (1000 mg).  Vitamin E supplementation has been shown to protect against exercise-induced oxidative damage and to enhance recovery following intense exercise. Studies also suggest that vitamin C may quicken recovery time, and decrease muscle soreness.   Other than vitamin C, E, there is no clear scientific evidence that most antioxidant supplements aid in defense against exercise induced oxidative damage.

Foods sources then are our best source for antioxidant.

Small red beans and wild blueberries top the list of foods that have the highest concentrations of disease-fighting antioxidant compounds, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). In general, colorful foods are higher in antioxidant properties, as well as in vitamins, minerals and fiber.

The top 20 ranked foods that interfere with or prevent damage from free radicals are displayed in the table below:

Rank Type Food item Serving size Total antioxidant capacity per serving size
1 Beans/Legumes Red Beans (dried) Half cup 13727
2 Fruit, Berry Wild blueberry 1 cup 13427
3 Beans/Legumes Red kidney beans (dried) Half cup 13259
4 Beans/Legumes Pinto beans Half cup 11864
5 Fruit, Berry Blueberry 1 cup 9019
6 Fruit, Berry Cranberry 1 cup (whole) 8983
7 Vegetable Artichoke (cooked) 1 cup (hearts) 7904
8 Fruit, Berry Blackberry 1 cup 7701
9 Fruit Prune Half cup 7291
10 Fruit, Berry Raspberry 1 cup 6058
11 Fruit, Bery Strawberry 1 cup 5938
12 Fruit Red Delicious apple One 5900
13 Fruit Granny Smith apple One 5381
14 Nut Pecan 1 ounce 5095
15 Fruit, Bery Sweet cherry 1 cup 4873
16 Fruit Black plum One 4844
17 Vegetable Russet potato (cooked) One 4649
18 Beans/Legumes Black beans (dried) Half cup 4181
19 Fruit Plum One 4118
20 Fruit Gala apple One 3903
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by on Dec.09, 2009, under General HEALTH, General Nutrition, Natural Bodybuilding

Protein is a critical part of a healthy diet, and eating the right amount helps with everything from higher energy to stronger muscles.

The trick is knowing the healthiest sources of protein and the right amounts for your body. Every cell in our body needs protein to carry out all metabolisms that sustain us. Our nerves, tissues, bones all are made up of proteins,. Proteins play all sorts of roles in maintaining our health and functionality.

  • Build Muscle. Since you need protein to build muscle, eating enough protein ensures your body has what it needs to build new one.
  • Maintain Muscle. Getting your body the protein it needs will improve muscle recovery and prevent muscle breakdown from exercising.

    Assorted fast, slow, and timed released blended proteins available in many flavors.

  • Fat Loss. Protein has the highest thermogenic effect, which means your body burns more calories digesting proteins than carbs or fat.

Eating protein rich foods with each meal helps reduce the appetite, plus the body uses energy to convert protein to carbohydrates.

If too much protein is consumed regularly, it can be converted to fat and stored, the same as carbohydrates can be converted for fat storage. However, protein contains Nitrogen, an important chemical essential for the production of antibodies, so the body prefers to hold onto this Nitrogen. Therefore, protein is more likely to be converted to carbohydrates rather than fat. These complex chemical reactions use up extra energy and help us burn more calories at rest!

So How Much Protein Does a Person Need?
The United States RDA is 0.4g/lbs. This is only about 80g protein per day for a 200 lb person. But this recommendation is based on studies done on non-active, sedentary people.

For those who train regularly and want to build or maintain lean mass while trimming fat, the recommendation is .8 – 1 gram protein per pound of body-weight per day. That equates to 160-200g daily protein for a 200lb individual. This amount can be easily reached by eating frequently and including a whole protein source with each meal.

Best Sources of Protein

It is important to vary your protein sources to get the full range of amino acids and nutrients from your foods. Here are some of the best & most popular protein-rich foods.


Seafood is one of the best sources of protein because it’s usually low in fat. Salmon contains more fat but it is the heart-healthy kind: omega-3 fatty acids.

White-Meat Poultry (Chicken & Turkey)

Stick to the white meat of poultry for excellent, lean protein. Dark meat is higher in fat. The skin is loaded with saturated fat, so remove skin before cooking.

Milk, Cheese, and Yogurt, Cottage Cheese

Not only are dairy foods — like milk, cheese, and yogurt — excellent sources of protein but they also contain valuable calcium. Choose skim or low fat dairy to keep bones and teeth strong, prevent osteoporosis, and enhance weight loss.

Eggs (Egg Whites)

Eggs are one of the least expensive forms of protein. One egg white is just 16 calories and has 3 grams of protein. One whole egg is about 75 calories, has double the protein and 5 grams of fat and 22 mg of cholesterol. To cut back on calories , fat and cholesterol, try using one whole egg to every two whites.


One-half cup of beans contains as much protein as three ounces of broiled steak. Plus, they are loaded with fiber to keep you feeling full for hours.

Pork Tenderloin

This great and versatile white meat is 31% leaner than 20 years ago.


Twenty five grams of soy protein daily can help lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease. Combine soy protein foods like tofu with a healthy low fat diet.

Lean Beef

Lean beef has only one more gram of saturated fat than a skinless chicken breast. Lean beef is also an excellent source of zinc, iron, and vitamin B12.

Protein on the Go

Grab a meal replacement drink, cereal bar, or energy bar. Whey protein shakes supply 30 or more grams of protein per serving. Check the label to be sure the product contains at least six grams of protein, and is low in sugar and fat.

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by on Dec.03, 2009, under Fitness, Motivation, Natural Bodybuilding

Are you ready to take your workouts to the next level??

Try the following  techniques individually or in any combination regardless of your current fitness level or experience in the gym.  Just remember that the most important aspect of any training is to be safe.  Practice safe technique and form before taking it to the next level.  It should ALWAYS be about quality of exercise and not quantity (of weight, or time, or speed, etc.)

.. After all, if you injure yourself on the first day, you are not maximizing your workout!

  1. PREPARE YOUR BODY FOR YOUR WORKOUT :  Dynamic warm-ups  get your body ready to perform.  Take a few minutes before jumping right in to take your body through basic functional movements that include bending, twisting and rotating the body. Dynamic warm-ups begin to raise your body temperature  and prepare the muscles, joints and nerves for your workout.
  2. INTERVAL TRAINING:   This is all about short-burst high intensity exercise followed by brief recovery periods.   This type of training is one of the most effective techniques for fat burning. Just 10-15 minutes of high intensity interval training is proven to be more effective in fat burning than 60 minutes of continuous, moderate cardio… REALLY!  The key word here is INTENSITY.. and form.  Again, this is about quality not quantity.  Sprints, plyometrics, and kettlebell swings are perfect ways to implement intervals into your workouts.
  3. TIMED WORKOUTS:  Get out your stopwatch! Very similar to interval training but the bursts of exercise last a bit longer and instead of performing total body movements, you isolate particular body parts with resistance exercises. This technique maximizes the effect of resistance training because you are also burning body fat by elevating your heart rate. Using a moderately heavy weight, focus on proper form, aim for a lifting time between 40-60 seconds with no more than 20 seconds of rest between sets.
  4. SUPERSETS – USING BODY WEIGHT:   Add variety and intensity by simply adding a second, similar exercise for a particular muscle group. This is also an extremely time efficient technique to improve strength and lean muscle development.  Do not use any weights for the second exercise.  Chest presses super-setted with push-ups; back rows super-setted with body-weight pull ups are  a couple of examples.
  5. RECOVERY & REGENERATION:  Your body requires recovery time  from the breakdown in muscle fibers caused by intense working out.  Without appropriate rest, over training may occur and result in injury and may in fact limit your progress.  Be sure to give specific muscle groups at least 48 hours to recover before training them again. Integrate regeneration exercises such as stretching, yoga and foam rolling techniques on your rest days to assist in muscle recovery.
  6. INTEGRATIVE TRAINING:   Simply put… Shock your body into transformation by changing things up often by incorporating a variety of fitness routines.  If you always do the  same routine, your body will adapt and you  stop making progress.  Plus, variety will keep you engaged, interested and challenged.   Try Yoga, cycling, kickboxing, plyometrics, sprinting, or my all time favorite – staduim stair running.  Talk about challenging  and pushing yourself to the next level!


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