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I thought it might be cool if we had a thread where everyone was free to post training and/or diet tips, little things that had worked well for them. Other people could learn a thing or 2, and if they were familiar with the information already could post something to support the "tips" efficacy or add extra related information. What does everyone think?

Thought I would get the ball rolling with something incredibly trivial that you probably all know already. That is, milk and oats together provide a protein source with an amino acid profile on a par with whey. As we have all read gazillions of times the quality of a food protein source is dependent on 2 things. Firstly, its bioavailability, that is, how freely we can digest and absorb the protein. Secondly its amino acid profile. Protein simply consists of chains of amino acids, essentially simple sugars with some sort of nitrogen group attached. There are roughly 20 amino acids occurring in food sources and if we are deficient in one we can simply synthesise it from another. However as you all know there are 8 amino acids (the "essential amino acids", tryptophan, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, valine, leucine, isoleucine, with the last 3 being branched chain amino acids) that we can't make, we are totally dependent on our diets for an adequate supply. Furthermore we require them in a certain ratio. The closer a protein sources amino acid profile for these amino acids is to the correct ratio the higher the quality of the protein.

Vegetable protein sources are almost universally deficient in at least one (the "limiting amino acid") of the essential amino acids. This means vegetarian bodybuilders have to carefully combine foods so that the strength of one protein source (a particularly high level of one essential amino acid) complements the weakness of another. Now milk, lactose issues aside, is a good source of quality protein (around 80% of the protein is from casein, around 20% from whey). Oats are also high in protein for a vegetable source but are deficient in lysine. Milk has high levels of lysine. With the other 7 essential amino acids these 2 foods similarly complement each other, to create a much superior protein than either on their own. As well of course the fibre content of the oats means the protein is absorbed over a longer period of time ("sustained release"!) and the complex carbs in oats are unbeatable for energy. Heck, maybe we should start marketing this as the latest bodybuilding breakthrough? All we need is a couple of photos of guys in white lab coats so it looks scientific (for the advertising) and we could all be cashing in.... :D

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Well, here's another diet tip (that you'll all probably be aware of already too!). As much as possible eat vegetables and fruit raw. Cooking not only destroys a fair percentage of the heat labile vitamins (B, C) it also denatures enzymes and other elements that have real biological acitivity. One (mildly obsessed I'll admit) guy I read about called cooked veges "dead" food. Due to the effect of heat though in a sense he's correct. Furthermore, notice how many supplements these days are coming out with what are essentially food extracts that have been shown to have ergogenic benefit? For instance, hesperitin in oranges has anti-estrogen activity. The anti-estrogen element in Isatoris Isotest is basically just hesperitin. Processing of any kind invariably decreases the amount and activity of food elements such as this.

Obviously you do have to cook some things, I'm not too big on raw potatoes for instance. If you can though, bake these rather than boil them. When cooking in water there is always a strong concentration gradient between the nutrient content of the veg and the surrounding fluid. This means some of those nutrients not destroyed by heat (particularly minerals) will leach out into the water and end up going down the sink. The more water used in cooking the greater the effect.

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Going on form the milk thing, interesting reading in very long form:

Milk. Friend or Foe?

By Paul Kirkham, BSc.

The day I was born, there was only one food that I could 'eat' that would nourish me, provide me immunity from illness, and start me on the journey of life. Without it I would die. That food was milk. And as I grew, my mum kept telling me to drink my milk, it would make me grow up big and strong. And I did drink plenty of milk - and I did grow up reasonably big and strong. Perhaps good advice in hindsight, mums are clever like that. Now lets fast-forward to 2003. Where does good old milk rate in the nutritional stakes amongst today's hype about good nutrition, health and fitness?

For some years milk suffered a pretty bad wrap. Dairy fat is widely thought to have a negative affect on cholesterol and heart health, while others in our community suffer from lactose intolerance or in rarer cases, allergies to certain milk proteins. Some doomsayers also declare that cows milk is meant to feed cows, not humans, and that milk is for babies, not adults. All fair points I concede, but if we delve under the covers of milk a bit further we can actually uncover a host of nutritional surprises and nutrients that can help bodybuilders and hard training athletes.

Lets first step back and consider what milk really is. Milk is a nutrient complex, produced by mammals for the sole purpose of nourishing their offspring. If you look at almost everything else we eat, including meat, vegetables, fruit and grains, none of these foods evolved in nature solely as a food for mammals. In fact many of these 'foods' have developed defense mechanisms specifically to stop being eaten. For example, certain animals develop toxic chemicals that make them dangerous to be eaten, and many plants have developed defensive mechanisms like thorns or bad taste (I'll never eat brussel sprouts) to prevent them being eaten. Now that's not to say that plant derived foods are bad for you - on the contrary, animals have developed and evolved to gain nourishment from an amazing array of food sources including plants and other animals.

But milk, by contrast, is designed specifically by nature to nourish young mammals. After an initial development period, these young offspring are weaned and move on to more adult food. In the case of humans, we usually start consuming solid foods and moving away from breast milk from about 6 months of age. But humans through the ages have also discovered the ongoing benefits of milk from domesticated mammals, such as cows and goats. And while it may not be the same composition as human milk, milk from other species was seen to promote health and provide excellent nourishment for children and adults alike. The question remains, can milk from cows provide quality nutrition for humans?

Well based on history and science, the answer is a qualified yes. If you've been into bodybuilding and training for a while and you use a protein supplement, there's a very good chance that the protein content is mostly form cows milk. Whey Proteins and Caseinates are the two major protein groups in cows milk and they are both high quality protein well suited to providing nutritional elements for building human muscle.

But what about milk in general? It is true that you can gain all the nutrition you ever need and never drink cows milk. In many cultures, milk is simply not part of the diet. In some cases, cows milk causes a number of digestive and metabolic problems. In Australia, about 2% of the population is lactose intolerant, that is, they lack the enzyme lactase, which is required to break down the milk sugar lactose. This intolerance usually causes stomach distress and diarrhea. And as some people get older, their ability to digest milk and milk derived products can become diminished, meaning they can feel bloated and uncomfortable. But for the vast majority of Australians, milk products can offer a very positive nutritional advantage.

Components of Milk

Whole cow's milk contains about 3.5 % protein, about 3 - 4% milk fat, about 5% lactose, about 0.7% minerals and about 87% water. To bodybuilders, strength athletes, and scientists, the most interesting bit is usually the protein. Milk protein is about 80% casein and 20% whey protein.

Go back 20 years and casein was the protein of choice for most athletes. One of the key reasons was that casein was readily available in relatively pure forms while whey proteins were not well purified and were mostly regarded as the waste product of cheese manufacture. Today, highly purified wheys in the form of Whey Protein Concentrate (WPC) and Whey Protein Isolate (WPI) are widely available. Pleotropic Factors

Whey proteins exhibit quite significant biological activity as well as excellent amino acid profiles for building muscle and have become the proteins most favoured by athletes.

By contrast, casein in its raw form exhibits very little biological activity and has been for some time been regarded as an inferior protein to purified whey. However new research is beginning show that there are many properties of milk proteins that we are only just beginning to understand. If we take casein for example, when you eat or drink a food containing this protein, the digestion process starts to break down the long strands of amino acids into smaller peptide fractions. These new peptides start to exhibit a range of activity that the original casein never showed. And this is where pleotropic factors come in. Studies show that many peptides of significant length can actually pass through the gut wall and enter your body's circulatory system. These peptides help in many ways. Some enhance antibody production to improve immune response. Others help muscle recovery processes, while others actually stimulate muscle repair and growth. Still further activity occurs in the gut where pre and pro-biotic activity fosters good bacteria, and produces even more beneficial molecules.

So casein, until recently regarded as inferior, is starting to experience a resurgence in popularity due to its excellent pleotropic behavior. In our experience, we are seeing excellent results with micellar casein in slow release or night time formulas, especially when combined with the fast acting whey proteins. Casein digests relatively slowly, especially in the micellar form. We are only beginning to understand the benefits of the short peptide fractions of digesting casein - but one thing is for certain, casein is a very useful protein for muscle growth and health.

What about WPI and WPC, do they display pleotropic activity as well? The answer again is yes. These proteins already exhibit beneficial growth and health effects in their native form, and go on producing further benefits as they are digested. Whey proteins consist of many proteins fractions that are now known to improve health. The whey protein fractions in good quality Whey Protein Isolate include Lactoglobulins, Glycomacropeptides, Bovine Serum Albumin, Immunoglobulins, Lactoferrin, Lactoperoxidase, and the growth factor peptides IGF-1, IGF-2, and TGF. All of these fractions are pleotropic. These fractions start to exert health and growth properties almost as soon as they are ingested, and as they break down, they continue to provide health promoting fractions. No wonder whey protein is regarded so highly by athletes and health professionals. In next month's IronMan we will look at Whey Proteins in more detail to help you understand why Whey is great for building muscle.

What about Calcium?

As a hard training athlete, you need calcium as raw material for build bone mineral content, and protein (bones are composed of 50% protein) to build stronger, denser bones. Now you can take a calcium pill, which is basically calcium carbonate, or you can get it from a more bio-available, such as milk. Milk is an ideal source of both calcium and protein for bone health. In fact studies show that calcium from milk and dairy products is absorbed and assimilated up to 40% more effectively than the calcium in a pill.

How much calcium should you be consuming per day? Well that depends on a few factors. Firstly, calcium can be a notoriously difficult mineral to absorb. Numerous studies have shown that we actually only absorb about one third of the calcium we eat in our diets, with dairy forms of calcium having some of the highest rates of uptake.

Teenagers have the highest calcium requirements of any age group. During this time of rapid growth, they should be getting about 1200 - 1500mg per day along with adequate good quality protein to ensure good bone health. Hard training teenagers may need even more! This is quite a lot of calcium and once again, milk and other dairy products are great sources. A litre of milk provides about 1200mg, a tub of yogurt about 150mg. Protein supplements also provide an excellent source of calcium. Check the nutritional panels to determine how much calcium you are getting per serve. And plan your diet to ensure you are meeting these guidelines. What about older trainers? Well from your early twenties onwards, and basically for the rest of your life, you should be aiming at about 1000mg of calcium per day to maintain strong, healthy bones.

Calcium has also recently been linked to fat loss. Recent studies carried out at the University of Tennessee, USA, have shown a high calcium diet inhibits lipogenesis (fat accumulation) and stimulates lipolysis (fat burning). The message hear in clear, when you are dieting to drop body fat, a high calcium diet utilizing low fat dairy products will help accelerate the process. Protein supplements based on Whey or Caseinates are great for this purpose. You can use them as a low fat / low carb meal, and with their high calcium levels, they will stimulate fat burning as well as helping to build muscle.

Protein Fractions - What are They?

The term 'protein fractions' refers to the various classes of protein chains in milk. As I have already mentioned, milk protein is made up of two basic categories - casein and whey. But within these categories are a number of protein fractions that exhibit specific biological functions in humans and are worth understanding. The good news is that with modern milk purification processing, many of these fractions can be isolated and included in commercial formulations to tailor and improve the performance of the basic protein.


In milk, casein proteins exist in structures called micelles, which are microscopic globules of protein along with Calcium Phosphate, other minerals and some carbohydrate chains. The casein is made up of a number of distinct protein fractions including:






What is unique about casein protein is the slow digestion rate. Studies that compare whey and casein administered in the workout period inevitably find that whey protein exerts a far stronger anabolic response in this case. However, when casein is administered at other periods the strength gains are twice of those seen with whey. This is because while whey stimulates protein synthesis much more than casein in the short term, but casein causes a sustained release of amino acids, preventing muscle breakdown for a more extended period of time. This makes whey the protein of choice for the workout period, with casein preferable at other times, especially before periods of fasting (such as sleep).


Whey protein is composed of a diverse set of protein fractions that are very active biologically. These fractions include:

Glycomacropeptides - GMP is actually a casein derived protein fraction that finds its way into whey protein during milk processing. GMP is a very desirable fraction to include in Whey Protein due to its high bioactivity. This bioactivity includes regulation of metabolic hormone action, enhanced calcium binding and uptake, increased antibody response to improve immunity, and for bodybuilding - enhanced regulation of cell growth.

Beta-Lactoglobulin is the most abundant protein in whey accounting for about half of its protein bulk however it is probably the least biologically active protein. Advanced formulas often manipulate components to reduce Beta-Lactoglobulin and replace it with more GMP.

Alpha-lactalbumin is usually up to about 20% of the whey protein content. It is a rich source of branched chain amino acids, which aid recovery and growth. While its demonstrates a number of important health properties, the main area of interest for trainers is Alpha-Lactalbumin's ability to reduce cortisol levels in athletes after hard training and therefore enhance muscle recovery and growth. As many of you may know, cortisol, the stress hormone, is the enemy of the bodybuilder as it prevents muscle synthesis and is one of the key hormones that push you into an over-trained catabolic state.

Bovine Serum Albumin is a globular protein with an excellent amino acid profile for muscle growth and comprises of 2 - 5% of whey protein. BSA has an anti-oxidant action that protects cells from free radical produced during heavy training.

Immunoglobulins (including IgA, IgM, IgE and various IgG's) are a complex group of whey proteins that exert powerful immunological function to enhance your overall health and metabolism. We all know that when you train hard, your immune system can become suppressed. However studies are now showing that the immune enhancing nature of Ig's can protect hard training athletes from illnesses and infections

Lactoferrin is a single peptide chain that binds iron and offers rich bioactive functionality. It's claimed benefits include immune function enhancement, cancer prevention, antimicrobial action, antiviral activity and anti-oxidant properties.

The Growth Factors IGF-1, IGF-2, TGF are still not well understood however they are thought to act like insulin by actively transporting amino acids into muscle cells to enhance muscle anabolism and regulate muscle cell repair and growth.

All in all, I think you will agree that milk proteins are virtual super foods. Any serious trainer is shortchanging their body if they don't use milk proteins to optimize muscle growth.

Other Health Benefits

Dental Health - Milk protein has an 'anti-decay' like action on your teeth. The phosphoseryl containing amino acid sequences in milk protein like casein work by stabilizing calcium phosphate at the tooth surface which stops demineralization of teeth and encourages remineralisation of tooth enamel - your teeth get stronger from drinking milk.

Milk Fat, Bad or Good? - Milk fat or cream is generally regarded as a nutritional 'no-no' because of its links to raising cholesterol, and the general role of fat in the development of obesity. Should hard training athletes avoid milk fat? Traditional thinking suggested that athletes steer clear of saturated fats like those found in milk, however new research is starting to identify many beneficial components in milk fat - so in moderation, whole milk that contains 3 - 4% fat will do more good than harm. Milk fat is a rich source of conjugated linoleic acid or CLA.

CLA is thought to stimulate an increase of lean body mass while inhibiting deposition of fat, while it also seems to protect against the breakdown of muscle protein associated with hard training. As an added benefit, CLA demonstrates protection in laboratory animals against a variety of experimental cancers. So its definitely wort including some milk fat in your diet to take advantage of the benefits of CLA.

Issues with milk

With all the good news on milk, there are a number of downsides. The most widely seen downside of milk is probably lactose intolerance, a condition where the digestive system produces insufficient quantities of the enzyme lactase that is required to digest the milk sugar lactose. Lactose intolerance affects about 2% of the western population however among some Asian populations, this figure is much higher. Lactose intolerance manifests itself with stomach discomfort and diarrhea, and the only real cure is to avoid products containing lactose, such as whole milk, yogurt, ice cream and many cheeses. The good news for athletes is that most of the more purified proteins on the market toady such as Whey Protein Isolate or the Caseinates contain virtually no lactose and s can be consumed with no side effects.

A less common issue with milk products is a milk protein allergy. Symptoms range from those similar to lactose intolerance, to others such as asthma, skin rashes, and excess mucous production. If you suffer from any of these symptoms after consuming milk products it is often due to one type of protein in that product. In our experience, we have seen several athletes who suffer from milk allergies but can tolerate WPI well, or calcium caseinate well, so some trial and error can often help find a suitable protein.

On a more controversial note, many doomsayers tout the quality of milk and the impurities such as antibiotics and other contaminants that find their way into milk. Antibiotics and other medications are routinely used in the dairy industry to treat various conditions such as mastitis, which is an infection in the cow's udder. In Australia, our dairy industry is very strictly regulated, and along with New Zealand is recognized as the highest quality dairy producers in the world. Internationally, many countries have lesser standards and many health issues with dairy, so from a risk point of view - Australian milk products and proteins are of the highest quality. Many imported products and proteins may not be processed and manufactured to the same high standards.

The topic of Milk is huge, and we could fill an entire magazine on the latest information and research, and how it will affect the hard training athlete. In future articles I will dig a bit deeper into some specific areas of milk nutrition to help you understand how you can get the most benefit out of this amazing food. In the mean time, consider milk - it is a food containing many valuable components and can be used as a key ingredient in your nutritional plan.

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Active vs. Passive Rest

There are basically 2 types of rest: active and passive. Passive rest involves simply doing nothing in between sets. Active rest means you perform some gentle, repetitive movement that causes the trained bodypart to actively contract and relax. No resistance is used of course. For instance, after a heavy set of military presses you could gently swing your arms about in a circular motion. The series of contractions that occur massage the blood vessels, greatly improving blood flow to the affected area. This means lactate gets converted back to pyruvate faster, localised muscle fatigue decreases and you might just get an extra rep or 2 on that next set.

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