Simple BCAA Gummy Recipe

It’s Halloween Time! Stay on track with your fitness goals with this simple BCAA gummy recipe to curb your sweet tooth without the extra calories.

Not just for Halloween, BCAA gummies are also a great pre, intra, or post workout snack year-round to prevent muscle loss and enhance muscle repair and growth. Each serving contains 24 grams of protein and a full serving of BCAAs.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Scoop of your favorite Steel Fuel BCAAs
  • 3 Packets of Knox Unflavored Gelatin
  • ½ Cup Hot Water
    • Tip: Use a coffee machine such as a Keurig to dispense hot water quickly without having to heat it on a stove.
  • Candy Mold or Ice-Cube Tray
  • Make Them Sour:
    • ½ Cup Superfine Sugar
    • 5 TSP Citric Acid Powder

Directions:

  1. Mix together 3 packets of gelatin, Steel Fuel BCAA, and hot water together until powered is fully dissolved.
  2. Pour mixture into either a candy mold or ice cube tray.
  3. Freeze for 20 minutes or until gummies can be removed easily.
  4. Carefully pop your gummies out of their mold and enjoy.
  5. To Make Them Sour: Combine ½ a cup superfine sugar with 5 tsp citric acid powder. Lightly sprinkle over BCAA gummies.

What Are BCAAs and Why Are They Important?

Spend any time talking to trainers at the gym or browsing the aisles of your local supplement shop, and you’ll hear recommendations from numerous people stating how vital BCAAs are to your training. The problem is, you have no clue what a BCAA is, or what it really does.

Sit back and take a deep breath, you haven’t missed out on any gains or gained any fat by not using them during your workout, but you could be missing out on some key muscle-building and recovery benefits by not using them while training. That’s where this no-nonsense guide to BCAAs comes in handy.

After reading this, you’ll know all the ins and outs of BCAAs and what they can do for you!

What are BCAA’s?

In the body, there are 20 amino acids used to synthesize proteins. String enough of these proteins together and you build muscle. The 20 amino acids can be grouped into two categories: essential or non-essential. Essential amino acids (EAAs) are the nine amino acids must be consumed through the diet, since the body cannot produce them. Non-essential amino acids are ones which the body can synthesize.

BCAAs, short for branched-chain amino acids, are a special subgroup of essential amino acid comprised of leucine, isoleucine and valine. The BCAAs get their name from the unique “branch”-like structure they possess. Together, the three BCAAs account for roughly 35% of your muscle mass, which is part of the reason why they’re so important!

BCAAs can be found in whole foods, particularly animal protein, of which dairy and meat are the most plentiful.

What do BCAAs do?

Due to their unique structure, the BCAAs can perform a rather neat “trick” in the body. Basically, rather than get sent to the liver for processing, the BCAAs are sent directly to your muscles where they are oxidized (“broken down”) for use as energy during ATP production. The BCAAs are converted into glucose, pyruvate, and various other intermediates required by the body, where they increase the availability of carbohydrates and protect muscles against exercise-induced catabolism (muscle breakdown).

Perhaps even more important than providing energy to your muscles, is the fact that BCAAs stimulate muscle protein synthesis (muscle growth). So, not only are these three mighty amino acids great for preserving your muscles while dieting and training, they also help your muscles to grow bigger and stronger!

You’re probably thinking that you should be consuming BCAAs all the time, well, that’s not ideal either, as your body needs all 9 essential amino acids in order to build proteins, and consuming only the three BCAAs would mean you’re lacking in 6 other important amino acids. Plus, the other EAAs compete for the same receptors in your body as the BCAAs, so if you’re overloading on the BCAAs, you’re essentially bottlenecking your muscle building abilities.

It is important to maintain a steady stream of amino acids before, during, and after training though, as this provides the energy your muscles need to perform as well as prevent muscle loss and enhance muscle repair and growth.

When to use BCAAs?

BCAAs are most important to use for hard-training athletes who may be at risk for catabolism due to the intense nature of their workouts or those following a very low calorie diet. This essentially breaks down to three classes:

  • Resistance-Training (Weightlifters): Resistance training is the key to getting bigger and stronger, but to do so requires you to breakdown your muscles so that they repair and grow. Using BCAAs before, during, and after your training provides the energy your muscles need to perform as well as stave off excessive catabolism, which could lead to significant muscle breakdown, i.e. lost gains.
  • Endurance Athletes: Endurance athletes train for hours on end without getting in any form of nutrition, setting them up massive muscle loss. But, consuming some form of BCAA supplement while training prevents this breakdown and helps preserve lean muscle mass.
  • Dieters: During periods of reduced calorie intake, your body is at an increased risk for muscle loss. In an effort to make up for the lack of calories you’re consuming, the body will cannibalize itself to get the required energy it needs to keep functioning. Consuming BCAAs (and ample protein) while dieting staves off catabolism, and ensures that you’re only losing fat and not muscle.

BCAA Benefits

  • Stimulates muscle protein synthesis
  • Increases lean mass
  • Prevents catabolism
  • Improves endurance
  • Enhances mental performance
  • Accelerates recovery
  • Reduces soreness

Wrap Up

BCAAs are absolutely essential for optimal performance and muscle growth. Without these three amino acids, your ability to build muscle will be severely limited. But, with BCAAs by your side, your performance, growth, and recovery will be better than ever before.

References

  1. Md. Monirujjaman and Afroza Ferdouse, “Metabolic and Physiological Roles of Branched-Chain Amino Acids,” Advances in Molecular Biology, vol. 2014, Article ID 364976, 6 pages, 2014. doi:10.1155/2014/364976
  2. Blomstrand E, Ek S, Newsholme EA. Influence of ingesting a solution of branched-chain amino acids on plasma and muscle concentrations of amino acids during prolonged submaximal exercise. Nutrition. 1996;12(7-8):485-490.
  3. Howatson G, Hoad M, Goodall S, Tallent J, Bell PG, French DN. Exercise-induced muscle damage is reduced in resistance-trained males by branched chain amino acids: a randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled study. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 2012;9:20. doi:10.1186/1550-2783-9-20.
  4. Blomstrand, P. et.al. “Administration of Branched-Chain Amino Acids During Sustained Exercise – Effects on Performance and On Plasma Concentration of Some Amino Acids.” European Journal of Applied Physiology and Occupational Physiology (1991), 83-88, Accessed November 20, 2014, doi: 10.1007/BF00235174

Top 10 Foods to Fight Cellulite

Cottage cheese, booty dents, dimple thighs.

You’ve heard these names, and many others like it no doubt in reference to cellulite, the “bumpy” fat that resides underneath your skin. Try as you might, no amount of dieting or intense exercising can seem to scrub away those unsightly bumps and lumps from your thunder thighs.

Cellulite is caused by a number of factors, but in general, cellulite occurs when underlying fat deposits begin to “push through” layers of connective tissue (collagen) beneath the skin. While it might seem next-to impossible to eliminate cellulite, using a combination of exercise, diet, and Buns of Steel® you can help rid your body of cellulite for good.

To get you started, we’ve come up with a list of the top 10 foods you can incorporate into your daily diet to help banish cellulite forever!

Cellulite Combatting Foods

1. Green Tea

Green Tea has been consumed around the world for thousands of years for its plethora of health benefits, primarily in regards to heart health. But, it’s also a proven fat-fighter and metabolism booster thanks to the polyphenols contained in it, such as EGCG. Green Tea is also packed with theobromine, a relative of caffeine, which stimulates lipolysis (release of stored fats). Consuming three to five cups per day of green tea has been shown to increase metabolism, decrease fat absorption, reduce appetite, and enhance glucose regulation.

2. Broccoli

As far as powerhouse foods go, broccoli is about as good as it gets. Each floret of the tasty veggie is bursting with vitamins and minerals, and it’s low in calories. In addition to the truckload of antioxidants included in broccoli, there’s also Alpha lipoic acid — a naturally-occurring substance that inhibits collagen from hardening, thereby preventing cellulite. Be generous when adding broccoli to your meal, there’s simply too many benefits to not make it a staple of your diet!

3. Water

Time and again you’ve heard doctors, nutritionists, and personal trainers strongly recommend the consumption of water each and every day. While it’s true the water is essential to just about every process in the human body, it also enhances your body’s naturally detox processes and flush away all the nasties that accumulate in the body on a daily basis.

Proper hydration is crucial to optimal performance, overall health, and fat loss. Drinking plenty of water hydrates the skin, improves its elasticity, and gives you the smooth, supple look you always should have. Bottom line — DRINK YOUR WATER people!

4. Salmon

Fatty fish like salmon are high in protein, antioxidants and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. On top of that, the omega-3 fats found in oily fish help reduce inflammation, decrease appetite, and strengthen connective tissue and skin, all of which helps reduce cellulite. And, since salmon is high in protein, it’ll keep you full and provide the crucial raw materials your body needs to repair and build muscle. Remember, the more lean mass you have, the higher your metabolism is, and the more calories (i.e. fat) you burn each day!

5. Chili Peppers

Chili peppers are potent flavor bombs that seriously amp up the taste and heat level of cooked dishes. Peppers such as jalapeño, serrano, or cayenne are packed with Vitamin B6, which restores and strengthens connective tissue, helping you avoid that unsightly dimpling in your buns.

Furthermore, chili peppers are also loaded with capsaicin, which has been shown to increase metabolism and reduce appetite, enhancing fat loss. It’s also worth mentioning that consuming hot peppers also enhances blood flow. As you might know, poor circulation is thought to be one of the primary contributing factors to cellulite development.

6. Dark Berries

Dark berries such as blueberries or blackberries contain compounds shown to enhance collagen production, which promotes the creation of new skin tissue, thereby improving its tone and texture. These berries also are chock-full of powerful antioxidants and polyphenols that help break down stored fat and restrict the formation of new fat cells. Consider adding a serving of berries to your morning oatmeal (another fat-fighting food!) for a delicious, satisfying, fat-fighting breakfast!

7. Olive Oil

Many of today’s foods are prepared with unhealthy, and artery-clogging, fats. While you want to avoid these types of fats at all costs, you still need to consume some fat in order to maintain optimal hormone production and health.

Olive Oil provides an incredibly healthy source of monounsaturated fats as well as polyphenols that enhance thyroid function. Better thyroid function means a higher metabolic rate, greater fat burning, and energized skin-building cells, all of which supports reduced cellulite and smoother skin.

8. Dark Chocolate

Cocoa powder is full of antioxidants used by the body to break down the fat in cellulite, and allow it to be burned for energy. The trace amounts of caffeine contained in natural coca also help dehydrate fat cells under the skin, creating a more even outer look. When shopping for chocolate, go for the dark varieties containing at least 70-80% cocoa as these varieties are the most nutrient packed. Plus, they taste a whole lot better than cheaper milk chocolates.

9. Turmeric

Widely used in Indian cooking, turmeric is a spice that helps combat inflammation and swelling due to the high levels of antioxidants contained in it. In case you weren’t aware, inflammation can cause loosening of the skin, which further exacerbates the cellulite deposition in certain areas of your body. The antioxidant compounds present in turmeric reduce inflammation and promote skin health, tone, clarity, and overall appearance.

 10. Asparagus

Asparagus is the pointy, spear-like looking vegetable that’s great grilled, broiled, or baked. It goes great alongside a piece of seared salmon and is another great cellulite-fighting food. The veggie is rich in folic acid, which reduces cortisol levels and boost mood. High cortisol levels promote fat storage in the body, so keeping cortisol in check is a must for avoiding cellulite. Plus, asparagus also enhances circulation, providing yet another means to keep cellulite at bay.

What is Blood Flow Restriction / Occlusion Training?

The field of sports science is a constantly evolving one, with new discoveries made everyday in our quest to understand the inner workings of the ultimate machine — the human body. For the longest time, it was thought that the only way to get bigger and stronger was by lifting heavier and heavier weights.

While it is true that you can get incredibly big and strong lifting progressively heavier weights, every natural athlete has a ceiling they hit. At some point, you’ll simply reach a plateau and any further gains will be minimal at best.

Does this mean that you’re forever stuck at a certain size and strength level?

Not even close, as modern research has unveiled a new method of weight training that allows you to get bigger and stronger using lighter weights than you’re used to.

It’s called BFR training, and if you’re not familiar with it, stick around to learn a thing or two!

What is BFR / Occlusion Training?

Blood flow restriction (BFR) training, also known as occlusion training, is a newer training methodology using cuffs or wraps placed around a limb during weight training. These wraps allow for arterial inflow of blood into the working muscle with inhibiting venous return. BFR training forces blood to stay inside your muscles longer than normal, which influences muscle physiology in several ways.

During weight training, metabolic waste products accumulate in your working muscles. Blood is responsible for clearing these metabolic byproducts from your working muscles and supplying them with oxygen and nutrients to allow them to continue functioning at a high level. BFR training slows the rate at which these waste products are cleared from your muscles, allowing them to stay around longer, thereby eliciting a more greater anabolic effect in your body.[1] In other words, by restricting blood flow, you’re amplifying the effects of metabolic stress in your muscle cells, which results in better growth after training.

Research has shown that BFR training increases mTOR and lowers myostatin levels in the body which creates an environment that is ideal for muscle growth.[2,3] In case you weren’t aware, myostatin is a protein that inhibits muscle cell growth and differentiation. By rendering myostatin inert, you’re removing another impediment on the pathway for making gains in size and strength.

Resistance training also forces cells to swell and expand with nutrients and fluid, which also happens to be another signal for muscle growth in your body. Occlusion training increases this “cellular swelling” and lengthens the amount of time your cells stay swollen, which tells the body the muscles need to grow bigger to adapt to the increased metabolic stress.

BFR Training How-To

BFR training can be done with weight lifting, walking, jogging, or really any other training modality. Simply take a some form of pressure cuff, wrap or ace bandage that can be used to wrapped around your limbs. SteelFit® offers our own Blood Flow Restriction Training Sleeves that also retain heat while stimulating growth and aiding in recovery. Tighten the bandage (or SteelFit® BFR Training Sleeves) so that it’s at a 7 out of 10 tightness (10 being as tight as possible). Make sure to wrap the bandage/cuff/ BFR Training Sleeves around the top of the muscle. If the wraps are placed too low, venous occlusion isn’t optimal and you won’t get the full intended training effect from blood flow restriction.

Don’t wrap the bandage so tight as to induce tingling or numbness — the bandage is too tight then. Wrapping the bandage too tight cuts off blood flow to the muscles, which defeats the purpose of what we’re trying to accomplish with BFR training. When starting out, it’s better to err on the side of a bit too loose than too tight until you get the hang of things.

BFR Training Benefits

  • Train with Lighter Loads (20-30% of 1RM)
  • Increased Muscle Size and Strength
  • Good for Rehabbing Athletes
  • MASSIVE Pumps
  • Great for Muscle Gain

References

  1. Gentil P, Oliveira E, Bottaro M. Time under tension and blood lactate response during four different resistance training methods. J Physiol Anthropol. 2006;25(5):339-344.
  2. Fry CS, Glynn EL, Drummond MJ, et al. Blood flow restriction exercise stimulates mTORC1 signaling and muscle protein synthesis in older men. Journal of Applied Physiology. 2010;108(5):1199-1209. doi:10.1152/japplphysiol.01266.2009.
  3. Laurentino GC, Ugrinowitsch C, Roschel H, et al. Strength training with blood flow restriction diminishes myostatin gene expression. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2012;44(3):406-412. doi:10.1249/MSS.0b013e318233b4bc.

Top 10 Foods to Increase Testosterone Levels

Testosterone is the ultimate anabolic hormone. It’s what helps you build muscle, lose fat, and feel vibrant each and every day. Essentially, testosterone is what makes a man, a MAN!

Sadly, while your T-levels might be raging through teenage and young adult life as you cross the 30 year old threshold, you testosterone levels begin a slow and steady decline that continues until you take your final rest.

Does this mean you’re doomed to a dull life, one lacking in muscle and sex drive?

It very well could if you’re not eating the right foods! That’s where we come in with this list of the top 10 foods that work to enhance testosterone production and inhibit excess estrogen production.

Grab your knife and fork and let’s dive into this man-making meal plan!

Top 10 Test-Boosting Foods

1. Cruciferous Vegetables

You should have listened to your mom when she told you to eat your veggies, they’re vital to limiting estrogen proliferation and supporting testosterone productions. Vegetables such as broccoli, kale, cabbage, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts are packed with indole-3-carbinol (I3C), a phytochemical that prevents “bad” estrogens from building up in the body.

Next time you’re at dinner, grab an extra serving of one of these tasty greens!

2. Oysters

Oysters are slippery, slimy, and utterly delicious little bivalves. They’re packed with protein and tons of micronutrients, including zinc, an essential mineral. Zinc plays a critical role in testosterone production and also functions as a natural aromatase inhibitor (AI), which blocks the estrogen receptor site.

Zinc optimizes the crucial testosterone:estrogen and helps ensure your precious T isn’t converted to unwanted E.

3. Brazil Nuts

Selenium is another essential mineral required by the body for all sorts of processes, none the least of which is testosterone production. It’s vital to male fertility and plays a key role in the production of testosterone. Unfortunately, most men don’t get enough selenium through their diets.

Including a serving of Brazil Nuts each day provides you with ample selenium to make certain your testosterone production is never hindered.

4. Salmon

Cortisol is a hormone that the body produces in response to stress. It activates your “fight or flight” response, and at certain times, can be incredibly useful. However, when it’s chronically elevated, your body will sacrifice other hormones (i.e. testosterone) to support your stress response, and continue producing cortisol.

Salmon, and other fatty fish, are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids which help combat inflammation and stress. Just make sure to get the wild species of salmon found in the Pacific Ocean, and not the omega-6 laden farm-raised type of the Atlantic.

5. Spinach

More veggies? You better believe it!

Spinach is rich in magnesium, which has been shown to improve testosterone levels when supplemented. It’s also rich in nitrates which improve blood flow to ALL areas of the body, including the ones you’ll be using during your late night romps in the bed!

6. Vitamin D3

One of the biggest deficiecies among adults these days is Vitamin D. This is mostly attributed to adults spending more and more time commuting, working indoors, or watching tv and less time outdoors (the body produces Vitamin D when exposed to direct sunlight).

The biggest concern to men deficient in Vitamin D3 Decreased T levels.

Fortunately, supplementing Vitamin D3 can correct this deficiency, increase testosterone levels, and regulate aromatase activity in the body.

7. Oats

A staple of any gym-goers meal plan, oats not only help power your performance in the gym, they also power your testosterone production too! Oats contain steroidal saponins, which stimulate the production of luteinizing hormone (LH), directly influencing the production of testosterone. They also reduce sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) which increases free testosterone levels in the blood.

Oats are also high in fiber, vitamins and minerals, which is why they’re always on our menu!

8. Pineapple

Ready for a tropical treat? In addition to being a tasty dessert or side dish at any meal, pineapples also can enhance your testosterone levels. The tropical fruit is loaded with an enzyme called bromelain. Research has shown that bromelain maintains testosterone levels after intense training.

So, if you’re training especially hard lately, and feeling more rundown than ever. Start adding more pineapple to your diet. Your recovery will substantially improve and you’ll prevent your T levels from falling off a cliff due to the constant hard training.

9. Eggs

Another staple of a proper muscle-building diet. Eggs aren’t only rich in protein and brain-boosting choline, they’re also packed with cholesterol. Unfairly demonized for decades, dietary cholesterol is the cardiac killer you might believe it to be. In fact, it’s absolutely crucial to testosterone production, as cholesterol is the precursor for testosterone.

You can have your three eggs per day, and rest at ease, as research shows that subjects consuming three whole eggs per day did so without adversely affecting serum cholesterol levels.

10. Red Meat

Much like eggs, red meat has been put through the wringer for years and years for fear that the saturated fats contained in it would clog your arteries and send you to an early grave. Well, not only are saturated fats good for you, they’re essential to the synthesis of testosterone.

Men following low-fat diets have been shown to have significantly lower testosterone levels than men eating higher fat diets. In particular, saturated fats are documented to have a strong correlation to higher resting levels of testosterone.

So, feel free to order the filet mignon next time you’re out at the restaurant and save the chicken for another meal.

Top 10 Foods for Fat Loss

We’ve all heard the saying a calorie is a calorie. While that might be true, you can make foods work for your body instead of against it, by choosing the right ones. Paired with a proper muscle-building training program, the following 10 foods will help reduce your appetite, break down stored fat, prevent fat storage, and enhance your body’s ability to burn fat for fuel.

Grab your bag of popcorn, sit back, relax and take a look at these top 10 foods that fight fat and get you lean and mean!

Top 10 Foods

1. Oatmeal

What?! A carbohydrate at the top of the list?!

You bet! We’ve said it once and we’ll say it again — carbs are NOT the enemy. Aside from being downright tasty, carbs can also help you lose weight. In fact, research shows that consuming three or more servings per day of whole grains (i.e. oats) led subjects to have 10% less belly fat than another group who consumed the same amount of calories from processed white carbs.

2. Cayenne Pepper

Ready to really burn your taste buds and belly fat?

Cayenne pepper is loaded with capsaicin, the spicy compound that gives chiles their tongue-numbing qualities. Studies show that daily consumption of capsaicin increases abdominal fat loss, boost metabolism, and decreases appetite. So pile on the red pepper if you’re looking to blast fat for good!

3. Avocado

Avocados are packed full of belly-filling fiber and stress-combatting Vitamin B6. It’s also loaded with healthy monounsaturated fats, which prevent your body from storing fat around your belly and down-regulate the activity of certain fat genes.

Combine avocado with jalapenos (which are packed with capsaicin) and a squeeze of fresh lime to make guacamole and have the perfect fat loss snack!

4. Salmon

It’s pretty well understood that protein builds muscle. The more muscle you have on your body, the higher your metabolism, and the greater ability your body has to burn fat fast.

Wild salmon is one of the healthiest sources of muscle-building protein. It’s also loaded with heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which combat inflammation, support healthy joints, and fuel fat burning.

5. Tea

Consumed around the world for thousands of years, tea isn’t just a delicious, satisfying, and tasty beverage; it can also be a powerful ally in the war on fat. Tea is packed with polyphenols that stimulate lipolysis (the breakdown of fat) and inhibit adipogenesis (creation of new fat). Some research even points to tea’s ability to reduce appetite via increasing levels of the hormone CCK (cholecystokinin).

6. Berries

Berries are nature’s wonder-fruit; they’re packed with polyphenols, antioxidant, and fiber. Berries improve blood flow, and aid fat burning due to an antioxidant, known as resveratrol, that’s been shown to convert harmful white fat cells into brown fat, which can be burned for energy.

7. Eggs

Eggs are loaded with choline, a prominent fat-burning compound that deactivates genes responsible for belly fat storage They’re also packed full of protein and make the foundation of any great muscle-building breakfast.

Eating eggs also lowers ghrelin response, which makes you less hungry in the hours after a meal, and supports your fat loss diet efforts to consume fewer calories each day!

8. Beans

High in protein and belly-filling fiber, beans are another great slow carb that not only taste great, but also help maintain a slim waistline. Beans are packed full of insoluble and soluble fiber which promote good bacteria growth and enhance your ability to burn fat for fuel. Research notes that for every additional 10g of fiber eaten per day, subjects carried considerably less belly fat.

9. Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt is convenient and tasty muscle-building snack offering over 20g of protein per 80z serving. It’s also packed with calcium and vitamin D, which reduce cortisol, a stress hormone that promotes fat storage. Mix Greek yogurt with a serving of berries to make the perfect pre or post workout snack to enhance muscle growth, blunt cortisol, and torch belly fat.

10. Dark Chocolate

Can chocolate really help you lose weight? According to research conducted at Louisiana State University, YES!

Dark chocolate is fermented in our gut leading to increased production of butyrate, a fatty acid that promotes fat burning and inhibits inflammation. Adding chocolate to fruit can boost butyrate production and release, leading to even greater fat burning. Just make sure to get a chocolate with at least 70% cacao content, these varieties are highest the in important fat-fighting polyphenols.

Takeaway

Losing weight isn’t easy, and sometimes it can seem downright impossible. But it doesn’t have to be. It might take a little (or a lot) of work on your part to start eating a little better or exercising a little harder. But in the end, the small sacrifices you make on the front end will pay HUGE dividends on the back end.