Carbohydrates- There’s a Time and a Place

Carbohydrates- There’s a Time and a Place

In recent years dietary fats have been pushed aside and carbohydrates seem to be public enemy number one. It only takes a quick search on the internet to be informed by a self-proclaimed nutrition expert that pasta will make us fat and sugar will give us cancer; whilst another nutritionist will tell us that we need carbohydrates to keep our metabolism healthy and lose fat. It is no wonder we are confused as to whether these little molecules of carbon, oxygen and hydrogen are friend or foe.

So what’s the truth?

All carbohydrates are derived from plants; which means in their natural state, think sweet potatoes, rice, carrots, dates, raspberries and wheat- they are rich in vitamins, minerals, fibre and antioxidants. All of which protect us from heart disease, cancer and diabetes. However, when we take a natural carbohydrate and refine it, process it and add fats and artificial chemicals to it, that’s when it can be unbeneficial (detrimental) to our bodies. So potatoes dug up from the ground and boiled until soft are rich in potassium, magnesium, folate vitamin B and iron; but when we peel, slice and fry a potato in rapeseed oil then add salt and preservatives to it to make crisps, we remove the nutrients and fibre whilst increasing the fat and salt content. Effectively the crisp making process turns a nutrient dense food into a nutrient sparse one. The same goes for bread, we automatically associate it with making us gain fat; but a minimally processed wholegrain loaf is rich in fibre and B vitamins, only when we play with it – for example refine it and remove its fibre to turn it into white flour then roll it thinly and top it with cheese, tomato and pepperoni does it turn into something that can easily cause excess fat storage.

So, if we eat carbohydrates in their most natural state, they provide us with nutrients essential for optimal health. That does not mean we can eat as much fruit, vegetables and potatoes as we like though; we must consider the type, timing and amount we consume in order to ensure healthy body composition, good energy levels and our best sporting performance.

Carbohydrate Types

Carbohydrates are split into two main types. The first is starchy carbohydrates often referred to as slow release, which include foods such as pasta, rice, potatoes and wholegrain bread. These foods are often high in fibre which is great for gut health and broken down into smaller particles of sugar and slowly absorb into the blood stream to provide a regular trickle of energy to the body.

The other type of carbohydrates are simple sugars, often referred to as fast release. These are rapidly absorbed into the blood stream and provide an almost instant source of energy- although this energy does not last for long. Simplesugars are found in table sugar, jelly sweets and fruits. Both starches and sugars have health and performance benefits for us.

Carbohydrates contain four calories per gram, which is less than half of dietary fat; however, we still have to consider the amount of carbohydrate we consume, especially if we are looking to lose weight. Put simply, if we consume more calories than we expend, even if we get them from vegetables, we will put on weight.

Carbohydrates raise our blood glucose levels- this triggers the pancreas to release the hormone insulin. Insulin’s role is to decrease blood glucose to safe levels by directing glucose into muscle cells and the liver. We do not want continuously elevated insulin levels as this can prevent fat breakdown, so if weight loss is our goal we need to ensure are carbohydrates only take up a quarter of our plate at meal times and choose higher fibre options.

Using Carbohydrates Effectively

If we are training frequently and looking to improve our strength or endurance performance, then we need a higher amount of carbohydrates to fuel our training and support our recovery. At all meal times we should be choosing starchy carbohydrates, however immediately after a training session we would benefit from choosing quicker release to start the recovery process quickly. If a training session, especially endurance, is over 60 minutes then our performance would benefit from a very fast release carbohydrate during our workout to keep our body fueled.

A typical day could look like;

  • Breakfast: ½ cup oats with milk, pecans and raspberries
  • Snack: 1 pear
  • Lunch: Avocado, feta and quinoa salad
  • Snack: Hummus and vegetable sticks
  • Immediately post workout: glass of milk, handful of dried dates
  • Dinner: Bean and vegetable curry with wholegrain rice

The take home message is that we should be nourishing our bodies with natural, unprocessed carbohydrates to lose fat and improve our health and our performance; we need to simply consider the time, type and quantity we are consuming. It’s time to end our carb-phobia for good.

A Look for the Future

Reflex Nutrition Re-Brand and new categories

Along with a reputation for delivering unparalleled quality in the sports nutrition market, at Reflex Nutrition we are known for our unique holographic packaging.  As part of a process of ensuring that we capture the very essence of the brand and make your navigation around the different categories as logical as it can be, we have redesigned the labels and trimmed the categories down from five to three (but keeping all existing products). Each new category has a dynamic logo that reflects its individual essence;

Strength and performance

Our previous ‘muscle and strength’ and ‘energy and endurance’ ranges have been merged to form a category that contains every product needed for any strength, performance or endurance goal.
The Strength & Performance graphic is designed to represent a brightly shining force, almost star like sense capturing the sense of strength or dynamic performance.

High protein

The High Protein graphic is designed to represent a highly active, almost sense of breakthrough in whatever physical activity you are undertaking.

Vitality

Our vitality range has been expanded to include out previously named ‘weight management’ category and contains everything from vitamins and minerals to diet proteins and other weight management supplements.
The Vitality graphic is instantly much calmer and softer, representing a more rounded sense of health and wellbeing.

All new Reflex Nutrition products off the production line will have the new packaging layout with existing products coming into circulation from early March.

Train to Gain: A Guide to Progressive Overload

When it comes to strength training, how to do you ensure your progress? Athlete Tom Wright talks us through Progressive Overload – what it means and how to use it.

If you were to ask any coach worth their salt what the most important factor in strength training then they would likely say progressive overload. You may never even have heard of it, but you’ve almost definitely seen it and even used it in practice before. So what exactly IS progressive overload?

Simply put!

Progressive overload is the increase in stimulus on your muscles (and connective tissues) over time. If your goal is to become bigger, stronger or faster then your training volume must increase over your career. Muscle adapts to the stimulus put on it, so if you want it to grow you must create a hypertrophic stimulus by increasing the stimulus on a weekly/monthly/yearly basis. To add strength you need to increase the weight lifted over time. Thankfully the two tend to go hand in hand and in most cases increasing one will allow you to increase the other.

However, when applying the principle of progressive overload it’s important to remember that more isn’t always better. If lifting more weight comes at the cost of your form then scale it back and complete all your reps with good form. This is still progress. Simply performing movements that you couldn’t before is improving your neurological signalling and motor unit recruitment.

How to Use Progressive Overload

If you’re a novice starting out in your weightlifting career then increases in size and strength will come quickly. The first 6 months of lifting will allow you the most gains as your body adapts to completely new movements and stresses. That being said proper programming can set you on the right path to moving up the ranks quickly.

Try to add ~5% to your lifts week on week for 3 weeks for the same sets and reps, and on the 4th week (or when you can’t manage full reps at the increased weight) drop your weights by 10% to allow you to progress the following session. This is known as a deload.

Tom Wright - Progressive OverloadAs you progress to intermediate level things become a little more complex. Increases in strength and hypertrophy won’t come as easily and programming will need to be more thoroughly planned out. Increases in strength can be achieved using programming such as ‘wave loading’ in which you increase the weight by no more than 5% but decrease the reps each session. Eg.

  • Bench press week 1: 3×8 at 80kg
  • Bench press week 2: 3×7 at 84kg
  • Bench press week 3: 3×6 at 88kg
  • Bench Press week 4: 3×6 at 80kg (deload week)

You can see that as the reps decrease we increase the weight by 5% of original weight. On week 4 we program in a deload week by dropping back to original weight but keeping the same reps. On week 5 we would go back to 3×8 but at the new weight of 84kg and the process is repeated.

Of course this won’t always go as smoothly as above, but by following a process like this we will see progression over time.

Anything else?

Another factor to consider is your assistance or isolation lifts. These are the exercises performed after your main compound movements. For bench press this may be the French Press aka ‘skullcrusher’. To increase strength and muscle mass you want to increase the reps each week but using the same weight. So on week one you perform 3 set of 12 with 20kg, week two you try for 14 reps, and week 3 you aim for 3×15, followed by a reload of 2×12 at 20kg.

Advanced lifters will only see marginal gains for a large amount of effort. Small increases in strength over months and size may not change at all once you are at your genetic potential. Programming becomes essential at this stage and periodisation is integral to progression.

Even with physique the changes may be so minimal that measurements don’t reveal true progress so it is better to track weight lifted and volume. This is especially true for athletes in an ‘off-season’ as added body fat will make it incredibly difficult to track lean muscle gain. Track strength with 1RM or AMRAPs and look at total volume of each session and for the week. A monthly or 3 monthly increase in these will indicate progressive overload.

Start seeing greater results in the gym by using the information above to better plan your sessions, and training blocks. Train smarter, not just harder.

All-in-One Bodybuilding Supplement gets Massive Overhaul

all in one bodybuilding supplement improved formula

Reflex Nutrition’s All-in-one bodybuilding supplement, One Stop® Xtreme, has just has a massive overhaul with absolutely no price increase. It makes One Stop® Xtreme the potential winner for industry awards for “best all-one-bodybuilding supplement 2015” and it is expected to become one of the bestselling all-in-one supplements across Europe.

The new formula ditches the old foil bag which many consumers found messy and difficult to get on with. New OSX is now in the familiar black tub and a new style of holographic packaging that really does shout “I’m a serious product”. In short it really looks the business and will certainly find pride of place on many on serious bodybuilders’ kitchen units up and down the country.

As always Reflex have been listening to feedback from consumers and have gone that extra mile to ensure that new OSX tastes far better than its predecessor. In short the difference in flavour is night and day. Initially OSX is to be launched in 3 flavours with more to follow in the not too distant future.

The actual formula in terms of active ingredients has really been overhauled in quite a dramatic fashion. The protein content remains the same but the blend now is primarily an EU Grass Fed Blend of Whey and Micellar Casein which falls in line with current scientific studies relating to increasing protein synthesis.

A first for OSX is the inclusion of Betaine Anhydrous which is quickly earning a very strong reputation in the scientific journals for its role in bodybuilding. Unbelievably just one single serving provides the same dose as found in one of the most recent and positive studies. 1

It’s no secret that Reflex Nutrition has partnered with the world’s highest quality manufacturer of minerals called Albion® Minerals. New OSX uses its entire mineral spectrum exclusively from Albion® Minerals. They are patented high bioavailable chelated forms that are probably the best forms of minerals used in supplementation. As far as Reflex Nutrition knows, new OSX is the only all-one-bodybuilding supplement in the world to exclusively use Albion® Minerals.
If that wasn’t enough Reflex Nutrition have also updated the friendly bacteria, OSX now contains 3 different friendly bacteria made by LAB2PRO. They are patented bacteria that are dual coated so that they can reach the intestines intact to do their job, another world first!

As mentioned at the beginning of this article these valuable additions come at no extra cost.

Managing Director James Phillips explains, “There are a number of all-on-bodybuilding supplements on the market at the moment. We’ve always see OSX as the market leader in terms of composition and quality since it contains numerous premium ingredients like Creapure Creatine and has always been free from soy protein. But now we’ve really taken things to another level with OSX. The partnership with Albion®, the addition of Betaine Anhydrous and the work with LAB2PRO® means that OSX is in a different league.”

New One Stop Xtreme is available now from the Reflex Nutrition website and all major stockists throughout Europe during February 2015. Flavours Vanilla, Chocolate Perfection and Strawberries and Cream.

A quick overview of the main ingredients per serving:

  • Protein – 55grams
  • Carbs – 73 grams
  • BCAA Content – 10,320mg
  • Creapure Creatine – 5,000mg
  • L-Leucine free form – 3,000mg
  • Betaine Anhydrous – 2,600mg
  • Beta Alanine – 1,800mg
  • Taurine – 1,500mg
  • Albion® Magnesium – 150mg
  • Albion® Zinc – 7.5mg
  • Digezyme – 145mg
  • Bifidobacterium Bifidum – 362,500,000 CFU
  • Lactobacillus Acidophilus – 362,500,000 CFU
  • Lactobacillus Rhamnosus – 362,500,000 CFU
  • Additional vitamins and minerals from A-Z.

 

1 Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2013 Aug. Effects of betaine on body composition, performance, and homocysteine thiolactone.