I’m an active person who works out, either aerobically or with weights, about six times a week. My problem is that I always feel like I’m out of energy. What can I do to keep energy levels high without gaining body fat?
Parrillo Performance Products
How do you get health and vitality? In a word, calories. You’ve got to eat more of the right kinds of foods to build health. Unfortunately, some people still think that “less is more;” that is, the fewer calories they eat the more body fat they’ll lose. They start subsisting on diets in the 600 to 1000 calories range, most often while trying to follow rigorous aerobics and weight training schedules. These sub-calorie regimens don’t provide enough food to fuel their energy requirements. Their bodies go into a breakdown mode, in which muscle tissue (including heart muscle tissue) is lost. Not only that, vital nutrients are pulled from tissues to fuel the body, depleting nutritional reservoirs.
The consequence is exactly the opposite of what is desired: poor health, sickness, injury. Sub-calorie diets also slow the metabolism, the body’s food-to-fuel process, making it easier for the body to store fat. Nor can muscle be built if the metabolism isn’t running up to speed. The answer to getting lean, muscular, and healthy is increasing calories. On the Parrillo Performance Nutrition Program, you gradually increase calories to lose body fat and gain muscle. Depending on your sex, size, activity level and present metabolic state, you eat between 2,000 and 10,000 a day, sometimes more. When people first hear that my Nutrition Program allows up to 10,000 calories a day or more, they are amazed. But not all of those calories come from food. A certain proportion comes from nutritional supplements.
If you’re eating 10,000 calories a day, for example, about 4,000 of those calories are usually obtained from food supplements such as medium chain fatty acids like CapTri® and from protein and carbohydrate supplements like Hi-Protein PowderTM and Pro-CarbTM. Nutritional supplements play a key role in metabolism and nutrition. Used in conjunction with the proper foods, they assist in decreasing body fat supporting muscle growth, extending endurance and promoting better recovery and repair after training. Food selection is critical. My program includes lean proteins (fish, white meat poultry, and egg whites), starchy carbohydrates (potatoes, yams, brown rice, legumes and whole grain cereals) and fibrous carbohydrates (salad vegetables, green beans, cauliflower, broccoli and others).
Each meal should be structured to include a lean protein or two starchy carbohydrates and one or two fibrous carbohydrates. This combination of foods has two important benefits: First, the protein and fiber slow thedigestion of carbohydrates – and consequently the release of glucose – to provide consistent energy levels and sustained endurance throughout the day. Second, this combination provides a constant supply of nutrients so that your body can maintain its energy, growth and repair status. Also, you should eat five to six meals a day or more, spaced two to three hours apart. This pattern of eating is metabolically beneficial – for three reasons. First, it helps naturally elevate your body’s level of insulin, a hormone with powerful anabolic (growth-producing) effects. One of its chief roles in the body is to make amino acids available to muscle tissue for growth and recovery. Insulin’s release is triggered by the conversion of carbohydrate into glucose by the liver.
When glucose is introduced into the bloodstream, the pancreas releases insulin in response. For growth to occur, insulin must be constantly present in the body so that amino acids and glucose can move into the muscle tissue. Following a meal, amino acids remain available for protein synthesis for only about three hours. By eating meals of protein and carbohydrate two to three hours apart, you assure that your system is releasing adequate amounts of insulin, which, in turn, can exert its growth-producing action. The second reason frequent meals are beneficial involves “thermogenesis” – the production of body heat from the burning of food for energy. Following a meal your metabolic rate is elevated as a result of thermogenesis. Consequently, the more meals you eat, the higher your metabolic rate stays throughout the day. Third, with a constant nutrient supply, you are never forced into a “starvation mode,” a state induced by repeated cycles of low-calorie dieting in which the body prepares itself for famine. Because meals are coming at shorter, regular intervals, your body learns to process food more efficiently, and your metabolism is accelerated as a result.
I’ve heard so many things about how much protein is enough and how much is too much. Can you clear up some of this confusion about protein and amino acids.
We’ve been getting a barrage of calls and questions lately about protein. “Can’t the body only digest 50 gramsof protein a day? Isn’t too much protein bad for you? Can too many amino acids be harmful?” To address these questions, let’s take a look at what science says. The amount of protein actually required by bodybuilders is as hotly debated as the entire subject of nutrition. The National Research Council sets the recommended daily allowance (RDA) at 0.8 grams per kilograms of body weight a day – the equivalent of 0.36 grams per pound of body weight a day. Based on the RDA, a 200-pound bodybuilder would require 73 grams of protein a day.
Unfortunately the RDA was established with average people in mind – not athletes. Protein supplies nutrients called amino acids which are required for every metabolic process. All muscles and organs, in fact, are made from amino acids. Like most athletes, bodybuilders have higher requirements for protein than the average person. Without enough protein, you cannot build muscle, repair its breakdown after training, or drive your metabolism. Various studies indicate that weight training athletes need greater amounts of protein. In one study, for example, ten weight lifters trained intensely and consumed 0.9 grams of protein per pound of body weight a day. Four of these athletes were found to be in negative nitrogen balance.
In another study, weight lifters who increased their protein intake from 1.0 to 1.6 grams per pound of body weight a day were able to increase both strength and lean mass. Serious bodybuilders train aerobically as well, and this places some particular demands on the protein needs of the body. Prolonged aerobic exercise, for example, can burn amino acids, after the body uses up its stored carbohydrate for energy, thus elevating protein requirements. Aerobic training in a protein-deficient state can lead to a condition called “sports anemia,” in which red blood cells and serum iron levels are reduced. During training muscle fibers are damaged and must be repaired following the exercise period. If your protein intake is low, the body draws on red blood cells, hemoglobin, and plasma proteins as a source of protein for muscular repair. When this happens, little protein is left to rebuild red blood cells at the normal rate, and sports anemia can be the result. Clearly, bodybuilders must include ample protein in their diets to promote muscular fitness. Individual protein needs vary and depend on a number of factors, including a bodybuilder’s training intensity and level of conditioning. I have seen many bodybuilders improve their physiques by increasing their protein intake to as high as 2.5 grams per pound of body weight a day – nearly seven times the RDA.
Based on our experience at Parrillo Performance, hard training bodybuilders can achieve excellent results by consuming 1.25 to 1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight a day. On our program, one gram of your protein intake per pound of body weight should come from lean protein sources such as lean white meat poultry, fish, and egg whites; The other . 25 to .5 per pound of body weight should come from vegetables, particularly beans, corn and legumes. Avoid red meats and egg yolks. These are high in fat which easily converts to body fat. Now about amino acids. These provide another way to take in additional protein. Amino acid formulations are especially beneficial during periods of intense training and strict dieting. To protect lean body mass, many competitive bodybuilders increase their usage several months before competition. Thebranched chain amino acids leucine, isoleucine and valine are directly involved in building muscle tissue.
By carrying nitrogen, they assist the muscles in synthesizing other amino acids to promote growth and repair. People consuming a high-protein diet should be sure to drink plenty of water and to get enough calcium. Protein metabolism generates ammonia, which is converted to urea and excreted in the urine and sweat. Drinking plenty of water aids the kidneys in removing this nitrogenous waste and dilutes calcium salts which could form kidney stones. Notably, there is no evidence suggesting that strength athletes consuming a high-protein diet have an increased incidence of kidney disease. The data suggesting that a high-protein diet contributes to the progressive nature of disease come from people with pre-existing kidney problems. Many studies have demonstrated a positive correlation between protein intake and urinary calcium excretion. Results are equivocal regarding protein intake and calcium absorption. Some studies show that protein improves calcium absorption while others show the opposite. Calcium balance can be maintained during high protein diets by assuring adequate calcium and phosphorus intake (at least the RDA, 800-1200 mg/day) from both diet and supplementation.
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