“Subjects found that they gained double the mass in an 8 week study”
“7 lbs of lean muscle mass added in just 7 days”
These are just a few of the common claims made by many mass gainers in the supplement industry. Mass gainers are typically products that have a good serving size of protein (typically around 40-80 grams per serving) and will have a significantly higher amount of carbohydrates and fats in varying ratios which will help many individuals get the required calories needed in order to put on weight and essentially muscle mass. There are many complex processes that undergo in our body in order to put on a lot of muscle mass. Let’s just look at 2 of the basic criteria needed:
Now that we know how important it is to have a balance of calories and protein, we can see how mass gainers can fit in. Oftentimes, individuals who have trouble with their appetite or who struggle devoting time to meal prepping will go for mass gainers as an easy way to get calories inside their body in order to grow. They prioritize getting empty calories with very little nutrition because it is easy over spending a small amount of time preparing and devoting time to having nutritious meals. Mass gainers oftentimes have a high amount of sugar and ingredients lacking vitamins and minerals which also makes this giant influx of calories tough on your system to digest. It is commonly known now that we are not what we eat, but instead, we are what we absorb.
Many times I have found clients and others who take mass gainers are the type of individuals who want the easy way out, and these individuals often lack the time to even plan out their meal schedule. These are the same type of people who overlook nutrient timing and just get those high amounts of carbs and fats in no matter what time it is. If your goal is to just gain scale weight, then nutrient timing is not very important, but if your goal is to gain lean quality muscle mass and stay as lean as possible, nutrient timing is CRUCIAL.
So after all of this information, do you need to take a store-bought mass gainer to put on a large amount of muscle mass? Absolutely not. Prioritizing getting quality foods in throughout your day and planning out your meals in advance will be crucial to your success. Even if you are the type of individual who does not have much of an appetite there are ways to increase your appetite naturally. You also sometimes have to evaluate how important your goal is and chow down some food even if you are a little bit uncomfortable. Now, I understand that there are individuals who have very busy lives or many who can plan their mass gainer at around a time where getting those nutrients in can be beneficial. For the people who have very busy schedules or who truly suffer eating so much, they can find smart ways to use it when needed. But even when I deal with clients like this, I try and get them to create their own homemade mass gainers which will have much better ingredients in them and will be almost just as good as having a whole food meal.
These gainers can be made with foods such as ground oats, waxy maize, all natural nut butters, coconut oil, avocadoes, egg whites, protein powder, fruits and many more. This way you can also adjust the macronutrients depending on your specific goals.
Although mass gainers can be beneficial for a few individuals, for most who have the time and have no problem planning for success, in my opinion it can be much better to create your own gainer at home. This will ensure that you are getting much higher quality ingredients, can adjust your macronutrient ratios and you will be getting more of a bang for your buck. The more planning and effort you put into your nutrition and training, the more rewards you will reap from it!
“Say your prayers, take your vitamins, be a true American!”
Although we do not live in the U.S. of A. This quote transports many to a time back when wrestling was quickly growing in America and Hulk Hogan was a hero to many up and coming youth. It was impossible not to get this wildfire of a sport crossing our border up north to Canada. We would see the wrestlers on TV with these monstrous bodies and we would idolize them for their courage and “hero-like” qualities. Many have even reported their love for bodybuilding starting from being obsessed with what their wrestling heroes looked like when they were kids. When you have a guy like Hulk Hogan saying that you need to take your vitamins, there is no choice but to listen. Over the last few decades it has become a staple to take a multivitamin for good overall health. Not only can we find them everywhere from gas stations to pharmacies but there are millions of brands out there to pick from. One can often get confused and assume that the most expensive one, or the one with the shiniest label is the best one.
Multivitamins are supplements that are supposed to cover all your bases for vitamin and mineral deficiencies. When we have a deficiency of a certain micronutrient in our body, things can really turn ugly. Ranging from feeling lethargic and depressed all the way to hindering muscle growth and even causing some serious health issues, making sure that we are getting the proper vitamins and minerals in our bodies is crucial. In a perfect world, multivitamins would have the exact dosages we need to help us perform optimally; unfortunately these products do not take a lot of factors into account. Our need for certain vitamins and minerals changes with many aspects such as genetics, nutrition, lifestyle, geographic location, activity levels and many more. Every person is so different that their needs for certain vitamins and minerals will all greatly vary. Multivitamins tend to have dozens of ingredients jam-packed in small pills making it very hard to add an efficacious dose of any of these vitamins you might be truly deficient in.
So, do you need a multivitamin? No. But you still might need to supplement with certain vitamins for optimal health and performance.
Many often say “I don’t need vitamins, I get all my vitamins through food!”
Unless these individuals keep their diet consistent and have gotten bloodwork done to show that every micronutrient is up to par to what is needed to function optimally, they are fooling themselves. Especially for the readers of this (which the majority are athletes looking to maximize their health and performance), our body will utilize and require a lot more vitamins and minerals than the average sedentary person. Although not impossible, it is very tough to get all your vitamins and minerals through food as so many different variables play a role. Things from the lowered quality of crops over the last few decades, to the hormones pumped in our meats, to the certain restrictions we sometimes put on ourselves when dieting for a show.
The best way to determine what vitamins and minerals you should use is to get bloodwork done and check your vitamin and mineral levels. From here you can see which ones you may be deficient or abundant in and decide how much you need in order to maximize your health and performance. Also, be sure to find a reputable company and do your research before buying vitamins. Many factors will play a role in how well you digest and absorb the nutrients and we want to maximize this as well.
Multivitamins have a good intention behind them as they are made to keep us free from deficiencies. The problem is that they do not take into account each of our individual needs. The best way to handle your health and performance is not to play horseshoes and hand grenades with your deficiencies but to pinpoint them and attack the points that really matter!
Have you ever heard the term you are what you eat? Well this is only half true. How many times have you seen somebody who struggles to put on weight even when they eat as much as a family of four? A lot of times it does have to do with the person’s individual metabolism, but oftentimes it is a more serious cause of not absorbing nutrients properly. In reality we are not what we eat, but we are what we absorb.
Food absorption is critical for our health. Even for average people who are physically inactive, it is very important to be able to efficiently digest and absorb things like macronutrients, micronutrients, phytochemicals, and zoochemicals. If you consider yourself a high level athlete, it is even more crucial to take into account how your digestion is.
Any athlete looking to maximize their energy for training needs to understand that the process of converting food into energy begins in the gut. As an athlete it is important to not only get the proper macronutrients for fuel but also the proper micronutrients in order to maximize recovery and keep your body healthy.
Not only is it crucial for performance, but absorption of nutrients is even more important for physique athletes. With most physique athletes, there are phases where calories are increased over maintenance in order to gain the maximum amount of muscle possible. During these periods, there is a higher than normal volume of food they are ingesting which can be a lot of work on their digestive system. Oftentimes you hear of people complaining about gas and bloating after meals, feeling like there is a rock in their stomach and even undigested food in their stool. This is quite common and a lot of times people just live with it and do nothing about it. If you are one to dismiss these symptoms, you can be jeopardizing your health and results.
Digestive enzymes help break down our food and turns it into nutrients in order to be absorbed by our body. Our body naturally creates these enzymes but sometimes they can be compromised by certain diseases in the pancreas and gastrointestinal tract. Other factors that can negatively impact their production are also inflammation in the body, low stomach acid, and even chronic stress. When we are stressed, our body goes into a mode where it does not think that it needs to prioritize certain things. Our body does not know the difference between you being chased by a tiger or you being angry that somebody cut you off in traffic. All it knows is that you are stressed. When we constantly stress out about the things that life deals us, we can be causing a lot of damage to our health and digestion.
So, should you use digestive enzymes?
If you are experiencing the symptoms mentioned earlier in the article, yes.
Although managing stress properly and focusing on a healthy diet will help your production of digestive enzymes, it does not hurt to supplement your body with extra enzymes. These extra enzymes are going to give your body support to break down the foods that might have added stress on your digestive system. It is crucial to look for a product that has multiple enzymes made from a reputable company. These will include protease, lipase and amylase which between the 3 help break down proteins, fats and carbohydrates.
The best time to take a digestive enzyme product is with your largest meals in the day and each product will have different instructions on how much to take. It is also important to listen to your body and adjust the dose based off how you are feeling.
No matter who you are, it is important to optimize digestion and absorption through good nutrition. This will lead to better health, and much better results in the gym. Make sure to maximize all the healthy foods you are putting in your body so you can continue to maximize your health and your progress in the gym!
Imagine that you're building your dream house. You are doing all the planning and putting hard work day in and day out in order to build the house. You have made an order of many supplies, you have many workers ready to lay bricks, but your shipments of supplies are coming on a horse and buggy while they could be coming in a transport truck. Your workers are constantly standing around waiting to be able to lay more bricks but they just are not available to them. On top of all that, when the bricks do get there, it is a limited amount until another shipment comes over. How does this relate towards your journey of building a great physique?
The supplies are the amino acids you ingest, the workers are the calories and the mode of transportation is the way your body shuttles the protein in order to be able to recover.
It is true that many more factors play a part in order to be able to build muscle, but without this simple process it is impossible.
This process is very important specifically around your workout when we want to flood our bodies with the amino acids and nutrients it needs. You want your body to be as anabolic as possible around your workout. This is when a pathway called M-Tor is activated which begins the muscle building process. The hormone that is responsible with shuttling these nutrients as fast as possible is called insulin. Manipulating your insulin levels can be a great way to accelerate muscle gains. This works by not only shuttling the nutrients faster to the muscles but maximizing to what degree nutrients are absorbed by your body.
When we eat, our bodies turn the food into glucose. From there it can be stored as glycogen which is essentially stored energy within your body. Any excess glucose in the body once our glycogen stores have been filled up can be turned into fat. But there is a way in order to maximize the amount of glycogen we can store in order to force more nutrients into the muscles and prevent fat gains.
Many do it through exogenous insulin use, but this can be a dangerous practice. This process can also be mimicked through the use of glucose disposal agents. Glucose disposal agents will help your body absorb as many nutrients as possible by mimicking the effects of insulin in the body. This will ensure that you are not only maximizing your muscle gains but also minimizing your fat gains.
There are many products in the market that have one, or a combination of ingredients such as R-ALA, cinnamon, chromium and many more. These ingredients all have ways of regulating your blood sugar levels and maximizing how our body handles carbohydrates.
Now that we know what Glucose disposal agents do, do we really need them in our arsenal of supplements?
Although they are not needed, they can be very beneficial in terms of utilizing your nutrients properly. These supplements can be fairly inexpensive and will help you in the long run not only in terms of muscle gaining, but in terms of health. Many of these supplements will help you regulate your blood sugar better, will help you stay leaner, will help you absorb more nutrients and even are potent antioxidants to keep away free radicals. Another benefit is that since there is better glycogen uptake, you will have much better pumps in the gym. If you are looking to maximize your muscle gains definitely look into trying one of these supplements out!
The best time to take these supplements is before and after your training as this is when many individuals intake higher amounts of carbohydrates and protein. They can also be very beneficial when you take a refeed or a cheat meal as they will help you shuttle these excess carbohydrates and put them to good use. Make sure to give your body all the nutrients it needs in order to have the best physique you can!
With the pursuit of achieving the best possible physique and helping hundreds of clients do the same, Juan Rojas has dedicated his life to finding the best strategies for transforming human bodies. Constant research, trial and error and continous education in the exercise physiology and nutrition field, Juan Rojas thrives off finding the most efficient ways to transform your body and live a happier and healthier lifestyle.