The Fitness Guy - Glucomannan: Magic Weight Loss Supplement?
Q: Have you heard of a supplement called glucomannan that's supposed to help you lose weight? - John R., Pompano Bch.
A: Glucomannan has been getting a lot of attention since national talk show celebrity Dr. Oz gave it his stamp of approval as an appetite suppressant.
Derived from the root of a plant found in sub-tropical regions of Asia called Amorphophallus konjac, glucomannan is a water-soluble fiber that expands and fills the stomach making you feel full. This means you eat less and don't have the cravings between meals that lead to overeating.
Scientific reviews generally suggest it is safe and effective, although there have been isolated reports of bloating, nausea, abdominal pain and even blockages of the esophagus and intestines.
Glucomannan is available in both tablet and capsule form, but the general recommendation is to dissolve a capsule in a shake or water to lessen the chance of the fiber expanding before it reaches the stomach. A prescription is not necessary, but please exercise caution and consult with your physician before taking this supplement. Remember, too, that an exercise program is necessary for lasting weight loss.
Q: Should I be taking a protein supplement to build muscle? Is whey protein better than casein protein?
A: Protein doesn't build muscle directly: strength training using heavy weights and resistance exercises are responsible for muscle growth. Consuming protein alone, in the absence of weight training, will not result in muscle growth. However, protein does play a vital role in the repair and recovery of muscle fibers that are broken down during muscle-building exercises.
Proteins are made up of amino acids which our bodies need and use to build tissue and are a building block of bones, skin and blood - as well as muscles. When you engage in strenuous exercise, your muscle fibers become stressed and literally tear. Protein is needed in this process of repair and recovery, leading to bigger and thicker muscle fibers.
The general recommendation for individuals who are exercising and keen to build muscle is to consume 1 gram of protein per pound of your desired body weight. So if you want to be 170 pounds, consume 170 grams of protein daily (1 gram of protein = 4 calories). Good sources of protein include chicken breast, fish (especially tuna), turkey, eggs, beans, yogurt, cheese, milk.
It is possible to get an adequate supply of protein by eating well-balanced meals, but in today's fast-paced world when many of us eat on the go, it's a good idea (and very convenient) to use a protein supplement to make sure you are getting all of this important nutrient your body needs. Drink a protein shake at least two hours before you work out and again within an hour of finishing your session.
A biological value (BV) is assigned to the absorption rate of proteins we consume; the higher the BV, the better the absorbing rate. Whey protein is digested and absorbed by the bloodstream faster (great for post-workout consumption so that your muscles get fed the nutrients they crave) than other proteins and has a BV of 104. By contrast, a whole egg has a BV of 100; a glass of cow milk, 91; and casein protein (which makes up about 80% of the protein found in milk), has a BV 77. But both whey and casein protein are excellent sources of branch chain amino acids (BCAAs) and both play important roles in repairing muscle; the major difference is the absorption rate.
TIP OF THE WEEK
Yogurt and Fruit Shake
This is a terrific post-workout drink, containing 410 calories with 16g protein and 89g carbohydrate.
1 ripe banana
1 cup (240g) fat-free yogurt
½ cup orange juice
1 cup (256g) fresh or frozen fruit (berries, peaches, kiwi, pineapple, mango, cantaloupe)
Combine ingredients and blend until smooth.
EXERCISE OF THE WEEK
Barbell Good Morning
Ray Chenoweth, a client at Push Fitness, demonstrates the Barbell Good Morning. Photography by TobysPhotos.com.
This exercise is great for building your hamstrings and glutes (buttocks) and strengthening your lower back.
Balance a barbell on your shoulders while standing just slightly wider than shoulder-width. Keep your knees slightly bent.
Bend at the waist, push your hips back and lower your upper body until it is at about a 45-degree angle. Do not round your back!
Return to the upright position and repeat.
Consider starting with just the barbell until your form is perfect, then gradually add plates to increase the degree of difficulty.