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  • 28 Feb 2017
    If you want to see best results from a training program, proper nutrition is critical. This means proper intake of calories, macro nutrients - protein, carbs & fats... Learn why they are important and the best time to have them.   If you want to see the best results from your training program, proper nutrition is critical. This means the proper intake of calories, the proper ratio of macro nutrients - protein, carbohydrates, and fats - and the proper timing of these macro nutrients. This also means understanding and maintaining a positive nitrogen balance. Many bodybuilders - beginners and otherwise do not understand the basics of good nutrition from a bodybuilding standpoint. The nutrients in food are broken down into the three types of macro-nutrients mentioned above. Macro-nutrients mean nutrients we need in large amounts. Micro-nutrients are vitamins and minerals - micro meaning we need these in small amounts. Each type of nutrient performs specific functions in the body, but interacts with other nutrients to carry out those functions.   Protein The word protein was coined by the Dutch chemist Geradus Mulder in 1838 and comes form the Greek word "protos" which means "of prime importance." Your body, after water, is largely made up of protein. Protein is used by the body to build, repair and maintain muscle tissue. Protein consists of amino acids, usually referred to as the "building blocks of protein." There are approximately 20 amino acids, nine of which are considered essential because the body cannot make them, they must be supplied by the diet. Protein is essential for growth and the building of new tissue as well as the repair of broken down tissue - like what happens when you work out. When you hear the term "positive nitrogen balance," it refers to being in a state of having enough protein available for the needs of the body and the needs of building muscle. What does nitrogen have to do with protein? Nitrogen is one of the most important elements in all protein (Taber's Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary, P. n-31). It is essential to animal life for tissue building. This statement alone defines the key need for protein when lifting weights. For the most part, we are told to eat sufficient protein (every 3-4 hours) to maintain a positive nitrogen balance because your body is actually in an anabolic, or building up phase in this state, where a negative nitrogen balance, from lack of adequate protein, indicates a catabolic, or tearing down state. This is one reason why protein (and eating enough throughout the day) is important: lack of adequate protein, and your body begins to break down tissue (read: muscle) to meet its daily protein needs. Our bodies constantly assemble, break down and use proteins (in the form of amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein), there are thousands of different protein combinations used by the body, each one has a specific function determined by its amino acid sequence. Virtually all modern authorities agree that one to 1 ½ grams of protein per lb. of body weight is best for muscle growth. Besides taking in high quality protein from food (lean beef, chicken, turkey, fish, eggs), the best way to keep your protein intake at the proper levels are through the use of protein shakes. The other part of getting the most out of your protein intake and thereby maintaining a positive nitrogen balance is carb and fat intake; both are needed in reasonable amounts to insure protein synthesis. As far as powders are concerned, whey protein is the best quality, meaning your body will absorb and use more of it. Whey protein remains number one, because of its high quality, but milk-based proteins are making a comeback, largely because of their longer lasting effects in the body: whey is typically touted as a fast digesting protein, milk as a slow digesting protein. People always judge a protein powder by the number of advertised grams per serving: "This one only has 17 grams, it's not as good as this one that has 50 grams!" Wrong, wrong, wrong. Protein contains four calories per gram, that's how it's measured, meaning that it doesn't matter what the label says, they are using different scoop sizes, and number of scoops per serving to get that advertised amount. Since protein is four calories per gram, and scoop sizes are measured in grams, if you used a standard scoop size and quantity, you would get the same amount of protein, regardless of the brand name (excepting minor variances for fat and carb content). Test this out yourself, the next time you're at the vitamin store, compare protein labels. Note the protein, carb and fat per serving. Now note the scoop size and how many scoops equal one serving. You will see that any label with a high advertised protein content is using a large scoop and probably two scoops a serving. A smaller scoop and serving amount corresponds to a protein with a lower advertised amount. Now let's get back to my main topic regarding protein. The timing of protein is the key to maintaining a positive nitrogen balance and staying in an anabolic state. You should take in protein every 3 - 4 hours; your protein intake should be evenly divided up throughout the day over the course of 5-6 meals. This can be three main meals and 2-3 high protein snacks or shakes. Other than that, there are some critical times to take in protein - first thing in the morning, with some simple carbohydrates because you have not eaten since the evening before and your body is in a catabolic state. You should also be sure to take in a protein shake with fast carbohydrates - like fruit - about 1 hour before you train and you should take in a similar shake after you train - this should be, by the way, 40-60 grams of protein and about the same in carbohydrates. Finally, you should have a small protein shake or meal before bed, because during the night you typically fall into a catabolic state. Good Food Choices For Protein Lean beef Chicken Turkey Fish Low fat dairy Carbohydrates Carbohydrates have gotten quite a bad rap lately with all this low carb stuff out there. Are they responsible for fat gain? Should bodybuilders avoid them? The answer is no to both. Carbohydrates are currently viewed as the main culprit for gaining body fat. Ignored is the fact that carbohydrates are the preferred fuel source for your bodies - and brain's - energy needs. It's carb energy that fuels your workouts. There are two key components to carbohydrates that people need to understand: there are two types of carbohydrates, sugary or simple carbohydrates and complex, slower burning carbohydrates.   The other thing people need to understand about carbohydrates is that too many calories, of any type, can lead to fat gain. With carbohydrates, people eat too many sugary carb foods, which also contain fat. And while it's true that you need carbohydrates for energy, you only need so much. If you overload your energy needs and are not active enough to burn the excess calories, they will be stored as fat. Most people are not that active and they also eat too many calories of all types, this is why obesity is the problem it is today. Most people do not understand what a calorie is. The production of energy is measured in calories. The calorie content of a food is determined by measuring the amount of heat produced by that food in a laboratory device called a calorimeter. Somewhere along the way, food became a matter of taste - the higher the fat and sugar content the better. The basic function of food was forgotten. As a bodybuilder, you should be concerned about your calorie needs and types, and also you should have at least an idea, and at best be keeping a diet log, of what you eat everyday - in terms of types of calories and total calories. When trying to gain mass, you need around 2-3 grams per lb. of body weight of preferably complex carbohydrates. If you have a high percentage of body fat, drop that amount to 1 ½ grams per lb. of body weight. The only real times to take in simple carbohydrates are with the pre/post workout and morning shakes mentioned above. As well, as a bodybuilder, you should have a far better understanding of carbohydrates than the average person. As I said before, carbohydrates are the bodies preferred energy source. Once ingested, they are turned into glucose, which, among other things, fuels muscular contractions and glycogen, which is stored in the muscles and liver for future use. Without enough stored carbohydrate in the muscles, they take on a flat appearance and you lack the energy to train hard. As long as your carb intake doesn't overwhelm your energy needs, you do not have to worry about fat gains from carb intake. Good Food Choices For Carbohydrates Are Whole grains Oatmeal Brown rice Sweet potatoes Simple Carbohydrates Fruit juice All sugars Good Fruit Choices Include Bananas Pears Apples Oranges   Fats Fats, technically called lipids, are the most energy dense of the three macro nutrients. They are composed of building blocks called fatty acids, which fall into three main categories: 1. Saturated Found mainly in animal and dairy products, such as whole milk, cheese, beef, veal, lamb, pork and ham. Also, you will find this type of fat in some oils, such as coconut, palm kernel and vegetable shortening. Saturated fat is used by the liver to make cholesterol, which is involved in the production of hormones such as testosterone. This is important - you need some fat in your diet to keep your body's hormone production where it should be. 2. Polyunsaturated Found in things like corn, soybeans, safflower and sunflower oils. Some fish oils are also high in polyunsaturated fats. This type of fat may help lower total cholesterol. Since this includes good cholesterol, intake of this type of fat should be limited. 3. Monounsaturated Found in vegetable and nut oils, such as olive, peanut and canola. They can help lower LDL, or bad cholesterol without lowering HDL, or good cholesterol. Most foods are a combination of all 3 fatty acid types, one is typically the dominant type which therefore dictates it's classification. Trans Fats These occur when polyunsaturated oils are altered through hydrogenation, a process used to harden liquid vegetable oils into solid foods like margarine and shortening. Fat intake should be kept low. In fact, many bodybuilders find that fat is naturally kept at low levels by simple eating "clean" - lean meat and dairy sources of protein, complex carbohydrates as listed below. Some bodybuilders add an omega 3 fatty acid supplement to their diet to insure a source of healthy fats. Food Choices For Fats Are Flaxseed Sunflower seeds Canola oil Olive oil Fats To Avoid Processed vegetable oils Fats To Limit Butter Saturated fats Diet Journal It makes a lot of sense to keep a journal of how much protein, carb and fat grams you eat every day, time eaten and total calorie intake. If you're serious about building muscle, why guess at the amount of calories and grams of protein, etc.? You don't make gains by guessing. You can add your supplement schedule to this as well. I hope this article takes some of the guesswork out of bodybuilding nutrition.          
    1341 Posted by Steve McGarden
  • 11 Apr 2017
      Gigabyte is releasing several GeForce GTX 1080 models, yet the flagship graphics card from from that GeForce GTX 1080 Ti just arrived in our labs for testing! It is the sweet Gigabyte Aorus GTX 1080 Ti Xtreme 11G. This GeForce GTX 1080 Ti comes all customized with an impressive PCB and component design, Windforce 3X cooler, RGB LEDs, extra on-board HDMI connectors and the looks to impress. Yes, in this article we'll look at the fastest graphics card your money can get you, the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 Ti based on Pascal architecture. Armed with 11GB of GDDR5X graphics memory and an all new GP102-350 GPU, we are certainly we're gonna break some records today. It has been eight months since Nvidia released the first GP102 based product, the Titan X. To date, a hugely impressive graphics card that will resemble what we review today and very similar on a lot of levels. Really, the 1080 Ti is the Titan X, just with one GB of that GDDR5X memory less and the one ROP partition tied to it.  So let me break it down swift and fast, the new high-end GTX 1080 Ti features 3584 CUDA Cores, 224 Texture Units, a 352-bit memory controller and 11 GB of faster (11 Gbps) GDDR5X memory. The card has the same "GP102" GPU as the TITAN X Pascal, but the GTX 1080 Ti was slightly reconfigured. Most interesting is the 352-bit wide GDDR5X memory interface, this was not expected. This translates to 11 memory chips on the card which run at 11 GHz (GDDR5X-effective), the memory bandwidth is 484 GB/s. This invokes the change in ROP count to 88 (from 96 on the TITAN X Pascal), and the TMU count of 224.  The Pascal based unit is a bit of a beast alright, the GPU die size is 471 sq mm. If you look at the wider product stack, then a GeForce GTX 1080 has 2,560 shader processors, the GeForce GTX 1070 has 1,920 shader processors, the GeForce GTX 1060 has 1,280 of them. The Nvidia GeForce 1080 Ti has 3,584 shader processors active inside that GP102 GPU, I say active here deliberately as it still isn't even a fully enabled GPU. This means it is has 28 SMs active (28 streaming multi-processors x 128 shader cores (2x64). The cards will be equipped with fast GDDR5X memory as well for this 11 GB model. That memory is tied to a 352-bit wide bus locked in at 11 GHz (GDDR5X-effective). The combination of that memory type and clock frequency gives the 1080 Ti an effective memory bandwidth of 484 GB/s. Gigabyte once again is back in the house to offer you the a very silent product with the usual looks to go with it of course.  They offer three primary air cooling based SKUs: GTX1080 Ti Gaming OC 11G AORUS 1080 Ti 11G AORUS 1080 Ti Xtreme Edition 11G Gigabyte recently their new AORUS branding. Basically you can look at AORUS as Gigabyte’s new premium brand much to what ROG is for ASUS. That means improvements on all design fronts and as such you will see a product today that has been overhauled and designed all custom with 12+2 power phases, a serious WindForce 3X 100mm fan cooling system, higher factory tweaked clock speeds, an RGB LED enabled back-plate and sure, configurable RGB LED lit activities up top and at the frontside. It is all rather impressive as this Pascal 102 GPU empowered product keeps that unit at or just under the 70 Degrees C marker depending on game load. It is also very inspiring to see that Gigabyte now also invokes a 4 year warranty program (you need to register the product on their Aorus website), that is something really special to see these days.    
    801 Posted by Steve McGarden
  • 12 Apr 2017
        Overall Rating 5 out of 5 It’s not so much how much more powerful, faster and better handling the new S1000RR is, it’s how easy it is to manage. With its clever, multi-layered, fully adjustable electronic systems the new RR will amaze and reward, whether you’re stepping up to a 1000 for the first time or you’re a racer. It’s friendlier on the road, too, thanks to the engine’s extra flexibility, cruise control and heated grips. BMW have raised the superbike bar and produced a superbike even better than the HP4.    Ride Quality & Brakes 5 out of 5 A 500g-lighter cast ali frame has a shaper rake and trail (23.5°/96.5mm) and an 8mm longer wheelbase (1425mm). A new triangular-shaped section around the swingarm pivot adds strength and flex. Forks and rear shock are revised, but you can opt for the semi-active (DDC) system, first seen on the now discontinued HP4. Handling was already superb, but now it’s sharper and more confidence-inspiring. With electronic suspension ride quality is even plusher.   Engine 5 out of 5 A new cylinder head, lighter valves, shorter air intakes, a larger airbox and a full ‘E-gas’ ride-by-wire system adds 6bhp, bringing power up to 199bhp and a wider spread of torque. Although 1bhp more than the 2014 BMW WSB Evo racer and savagely fast, the new S1000RR’s sophisticated electronics gives the rider lots of control and confidence. HP4-derived traction control and anti-wheelie are smoother and there’s an optional ‘user’ riding mode, for you to mix and match your preferred electronics settings.   Build Quality & Reliability4 out of 5 Build-quality is superb and general reliability is excellent. You’ll find scare stories on forums, as well as occasional hiccups on previous model S1000RRs, but dealers are quick to react and rectify problems.    Equipment5 out of 5 In its standard form the S1000RR is well-equipped with electronic rider aids, Brembo brakes, a new dash and of course a 199bhp engine. But tick the options boxes and you can have electronic suspension, a quickshifter, downshifter, a datalog dash display, lightweight wheels, launch control, pitlane speed limiter, heated grips, cruise control…the list goes on. You can go a step further and opt for the optional 2D datalogger, lap timer, race ECU, or carbon parts, rearsets or luggage. 
    750 Posted by Steve McGarden
  • 30 Mar 2017
    In the first of a new series ahead of next Sunday’s Oscars, the Guardian’s chief film critic urges you to ignore the critical backlash and swoon along with the rest of the world over this gorgeous romantic musical     There is a core group of three movies on the Oscars best picture nominee list with a plausible slam-dunk claim on the title. But I am going for La La Land, produced by Marc Platt, Fred Berger and Jordan Horowitz and written and directed by Damien Chazelle. This is the gorgeous romantic musical starring Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling as Mia and Seb, the smart would-be movie star who falls for the grumpy jazz enthusiast. It is a film that – maybe more than any frontrunner of recent years – is in danger of drowning in its own critical attention and press acclaim, creating successive eddies of contrarian backlash from columnists and late-breaking social media dismissal from cinephiles, who compare it unfavourably with the classic work from Hollywood and France that is their own area of expertise. This lovely film is more than capable of riding it out and getting the best picture Oscar, though it has to be said there is an interesting comparison and contrast with the 2012 best picture winner: The Artist by Michael Hazanavicius, a superb, lovingly observed revival of the black-and-white silent genre. That, too, was a Golden Age of Hollywood nostalgia picture with a similar romantic dynamic between the male and female leads, and a comparable echo of A Star Is Born. We critics raved joyfully about that, too. But there was a bit of a disconnect between the pundits and public: the moviegoers were not quite so keen to watch a silent movie as we hoped: not as keen as they are to watch an all-singing, all-dancing musical in full glorious colour. (The worldwide gross for The Artist is $133.4m; whereas La La Land is already at $268.3m.) So for what it’s worth, raving about La La Land puts the critic in closer touch with the box office. La La Land is already becoming a classic on its own terms, and the opening sequence on the traffic-jammed freeway has grabbed hearts everywhere: I wasn’t sure at first, but a second viewing had me swooning and gibbering. It turns out not to be a green-screen confection, but the real thing. Chazelle closed the ramp between LA’s 105 and 110 freeways for a weekend, worked his 150-strong cast in the burning heat with unremitting passion and finally showed them the finished product on video playback monitors as dusk fell, to deafening cheers. What a moment that must have been. Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone are superb in the roles of Seb and Mia (I can’t imagine Andrew Garfield and Emma Watson – the other names once rumoured to be in the running) and their love affair is wonderfully persuasive. Here again I have to counter the naysayers who are avowedly unhappy with the levels of singing and dancing. For me and for everyone else who loves this film, their professional credentials are just fine: but it is the very fact that they are not slick Broadway hoofers and iron-lunged singers that gives them the humanity and believability. It is a part of their vulnerability. The point is that they are on the outside. They haven’t made it. Yet. The four seasons of their love affair are played out with such tenderness, extravagance and style. References to YouTube and the ubiquity of the Toyota Prius site it in the 21st century; otherwise this love story could be set in almost any of the last five or six decades. Yet this indeterminacy is cleverly managed and always works in its favour. And perhaps the killer punch is the film’s ending, with its alternative-reality reverie: heart-wrenching, romantic, unbearably sad, yet in such a way that a retrospective glow of something like joy and hopefulness is projected on to the events that led up to it. What a great film La La Land is. Surely the best picture winner.
    652 Posted by Steve McGarden

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409 views Apr 11, 2017
Cracking the coconut oil craze

If you Google “coconut oil,” you’ll see a slew of stories touting the alleged health benefits of this solid white fat, which is easy to find in supermarkets these days. But how can something that’s chock-full of saturated fat — a known culprit in raising heart disease risk — be good for you?

Coconut does have some unique qualities that enthusiasts cite to explain its alleged health benefits. But the evidence to support those claims is very thin, says Dr. Qi Sun, assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

“If you want to lower your risk of heart disease, coconut oil is not a good choice,” he says. It’s true that coconut oil tends to raise beneficial HDL cholesterol more than other fats do, possibly because coconut oil is rich in lauric acid, a fatty acid that the body processes slightly differently than it does other saturated fats.

Coconut oil’s effect on cholesterol

But there’s no evidence that consuming coconut oil can lower the risk of heart disease, according to an article in the April 2016 Nutrition Reviews. The study, titled “Coconut Oil Consumption and Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Humans,” reviewed findings from 21 studies, most of which examined the effects of coconut oil or coconut products on cholesterol levels. Eight were clinical trials, in which volunteers consumed different types of fats, including coconut oil, butter, and unsaturated vegetable oils (such as olive, sunflower, safflower, and corn oil) for short periods of time. Compared with the unsaturated oils, coconut oil raised total, HDL, and LDL cholesterol levels, although not as much as butter did.

These findings jibe with results from a study by Dr. Sun and colleagues in the Nov. 23, 2016, issue of The BMJ, which examined the links between different types of saturated fatty acids and heart disease. Compared with other saturated fats (like palmitic acid, which is abundant in butter), lauric acid didn’t appear to raise heart risk quite as much. But that’s likely because American diets typically don’t include very much lauric acid, so it’s harder to detect any effect, Dr. Sun notes.

Tropical diets are different

Coconut oil proponents point to studies of indigenous populations in parts of India, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, and Polynesia, whose diets include copious amounts of coconut. But their traditional diets also include more fish, fruits, and vegetables than typical American diets, so this comparison isn’t valid, says Harvard Medical School professor Dr. Bruce Bistrian, who is chief of clinical nutrition at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

Some of the coconut oil available in stores is labeled “virgin,” meaning that it’s made by pressing the liquid from coconut meat and then separating out the oil. It tastes and smells of coconut, unlike the refined, bleached, and deodorized coconut oil made from the dried coconut meat used in some processed foods and cosmetics. Virgin coconut oil contains small amounts of antioxidant compounds that may help curb inflammation, a harmful process thought to worsen heart disease. But to date, proof of any possible benefit is limited to small studies in rats and mice, says Dr. Bistrian.

Unsaturated fats

In contrast, there’s a wealth of data showing that diets rich in unsaturated fat, especially olive oil, may lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, Dr. Sun points out. The evidence comes not only from many observational studies (like those in the aforementioned BMJreport) but also a landmark clinical trial from Spain, which found that people who ate a Mediterranean-style diet enhanced with extra-virgin olive oil or nuts had a lower risk of heart attack, stroke, and death from heart disease than people who followed a low-fat diet.

Of course, there’s no need to completely avoid coconut oil if you like the flavor. Some bakers use coconut oil instead of butter in baked goods, and coconut milk is a key ingredient in Thai cooking and some Indian curry dishes. Just be sure to consider these foods occasional treats, not everyday fare.