by Vinny Russo, Team Grenade Athlete.
In the world of fitness and nutrition, there is almost TOO much information to handle, some good, a lot bad! As well as this so-called ‘information’, there is even more ‘Bro-science’. Time to put all that to bed and straighten up some of the most common fitness myths out there.
3.) Creatine just bloats your muscles with water and you lose all gains when you stop
Ok this is one of my favorites! Creatine is deemed with the false reputation of only flooding your cells with water causing a ‘bloated’ look which will eventually fade after a discontinued use. Well that effect alone is a good effect because a hydrated muscle is a healthy muscle, but the effect creatine has in the body supersedes more than just the cell volumizing/hydrating effects.
Creatine promotes greater gains in lean body mass as well as increasing the body’s muscle hypertrophy. It has been researched to improve performance in endurance and strength, as well as, overall maximum effort output. It is also said that with use, athletes will experience an increase in the levels of mRNA for IGF-1 and IGF-2. The net result with the use of creatine is to fuel faster gains in strength and muscle mass. The greater the amount of creatine in a diet results in a greater amount of phosphocreatine stored in your muscle tissue. So what the hell is phosphocreatine and what does it have to do with the use of creatine? See, in your body, Phosphocreatine (PCr) is stored through the combination of creatine and phosphate. This PCr is stored in your muscle tissue along with your ATP (Adenosine Tri-phosphate). Together PCr and ATP store the chemical energy of the body, and the more energy they store, the greater the output of maximal muscle performance. Now, when you’re working out, your body uses ATP and converts it to ADP by cleaving off a phosphate group (STAY WITH ME). What PCr does, is donates a phosphate group to ADP to regenerate it back to ATP which = ENERGY! It is important to take a creatine supplements and maintain this higher than normal amount of creatine in your body. By adding creatine, it will help maintain increased levels of creatine phosphate in your muscle tissue. Now, with a greater amount of creatine phosphate available, the more you can replenish your ATP. So, in a nut shell, the addition of creatine supplements results in loading up your muscle fibers with PCr. This, in-turn, gives your muscles the ability to work harder and store more power in the form of PCr.
2.) Carbs are EVIL!
Ok, carbohydrates are not evil. They are our main source of energy and are required for a lean muscular body. If you rid your diet of carbohydrates, this means you are not fueling your body properly and put your muscle tissue at risk to be used as fuel. The body will actually tap into the muscle cells to break down amino acids for fuel (this is called gluconeogenesis). Now, all carbohydrates, whether simple or complex, all break down into a sugar we call glucose. Glucose stimulates the release of insulin which is the body storage hormone. Insulin is known to be a double edged sword as it can add lean mass or store a bunch of fat. If you’re wise about which carb source to choose, and the particular time of day to consume that carb, you can benefit from insulin spikes as they will store carbohydrates into the depleted muscles / liver instead of in fat cells. Carbs need to be ingested in moderation! If you choose to eat a large plate of pasta, you will cause a large release of insulin into the blood stream which will store glycogen into muscle and liver storage then into fat storage sites. The more insulin in your blood stream, the more of a chance you have to store glucose in fat cells. A smaller plate of pasta will cause a smaller spike in insulin, thus reducing the chances of being stored in fat cells. When your body can store the glucose in your muscle and liver cells, this glucose become readily available in between meals if blood glucose levels fall below normal.
So now the question lies in which carb to choose? Simple carbs break down easily which will cause a quick spike in insulin to where complex carbs take longer to break down (they consists of multiple chains of simple sugars = more time needed to break apart) which will cause a smaller insulin response. With insulin levels on the lower side, as opposed to elevated, the body is more prone to burn fat as fuel and store glucose from carbohydrate foods as muscle glycogen. So this means choosing more complex carbs will give you less of chance to store body fat through the response of insulin. Simple carbs have their place, especially post workout! The large spike in insulin will force the carbohydrates and protein (PWO SHAKE) into muscle cells since they are depleted from an intense workout.
Complex Carbs, such as oats, can be vital when on a calorie controlled diet
You can add simple carbs into your diet as long as your smart about how much to consume, when to consume it, and to consume it with fiber (as fiber slows down the digestion of carbs), and a protein which when broken down will release glucagon (glucagon is a hormone that opposes insulin and drags insulin levels down).
1.) I have to do a lot of cardio to be lean
Cardio is a great way to burn some calories and is needed in the fat loss process, but at a MINIMUM. Cardio is an aerobic exercise that reduces body fat as well as muscle mass. Remember, when you lose muscle mass, your natural Basal Metabolic rate slows down = fewer calories are burned per day. Your lean body mass is directly correlated with how many calories you use up each day and how lean you can ultimately become. See cardio is a stress put on the body, and our bodies adapt to stress. So when you do 20 min of cardio for 3 weeks, the body will slowly start to adapt to that stress and you don’t get the same effect as you did when you were just starting off. When you perform cardio daily your body will adapt to reserve as much energy as possible, so the only thing to do is to add more cardio right? Wrong! This process will continue until you’re doing an hour plus of cardio per day and still staying the same body fat percentage. Why does this happen? It’s the same reason as talked about before with drastic cuts in calories. As your body adapts to reserve calories it downgrades your metabolism. If you are one who likes to run for hours on end, here is the energy adaption response to cardio: The body, over time, will adapt and become more fuel efficient. It will learn to burn the fewest amount of calories possible in an attempt to be successful (success being run farther and longer all on fewer calories). With long distance running, fat is the major source of energy. Due to this, your body will become extremely good on figuring out how to become REALLY good at storing and holding onto body fat. Now if you stop you may say “Hey, doesn’t this mean I will be burning less calories per day now and gain fat?” The answer is no, your body will have already downgraded your metabolism so its burning fewer calories per day then you think. The only way to get your metabolism back is to feed your body and cut cardio out until you get your baseline diet in order. Once in order you can manipulate foods to help you lose weight and implement an effective training schedule that will add lean muscle to your body. The main way to get lean is to incorporate a hard resistant training program. This will help build lean muscle tissue therefore increasing you metabolism!
Missed the first of Vinny’s 7 Myths? Read Part 1 here