1. Fuelling Your Second Wind

    At some point during training we’ve all had moments where we’re ready to throw in the towel and give up for the day. Sometimes stopping early is a good thing as it can help us avoid injuring ourselves from over exertion but at other times we need to push past the fatigue and the aching muscles and push ourselves further than feels possible. If you’ve ever done that, you’ve probably experienced the phenomenon known as the second wind.

    This new burst of energy, right when your body is feeling at its weakest, can be as confusing as it is welcome to athletes who aren’t sure what causes it. For a lot of people it’s unpredictable, it might come at the second kilometer of a half marathon or it might be the last push that carries you over the finish line. Sometimes it might not come at all. Understanding what powers your second wind and how to fuel it can help you get the most out of your training sessions, or give you an edge when it’s time to compete.

    When you first start exercising your body uses its most readily available source of fuel - carbohydrates - and burns them without oxygen. This is known as anaerobic metabolism and its great at powering short bursts of high intensity exercise, like breaking out into a sprint, but isn’t sufficient to keep our muscles going for long periods of time. When you’re working without oxygen your body can’t break down glucose and glutamine into carbon dioxide and water like it wants to, instead it all becomes lactic acid. As lactate builds up in the muscles it creates the burning sensation you’ll be familiar with, whilst also making you feel generally fatigued. At this point, especially if you’re just starting to work out or if you’ve had a break for a while, you might start to question the wisdom of going to the gym. You might want to quit altogether!

    Whilst all of this is happening however, your aerobic metabolism has been warming up and getting ready to take over. Your body will increasingly turn to fat stores for energy, so you’re no longer producing lactic acid. Exercise starts to feel better - sometimes even euphoric - as your muscles start to flush with the oxygen they’ve been needing. This is the key to getting you second wind. As long as you keep going at a similar intensity and you have the stores of energy to fuel it, your metabolism will keep going in its aerobic state and exercise will feel easy. If you suddenly ramp things up then you’ll need to utilise fuel from anaerobic sources and the lactic acid buildup starts again.

    That’s how it works. But how can we learn to count on our second wind? It’s not possible to control it directly, but there are ways to make it more predictable.

    First of all, the fitter you are the sooner you’ll get your second wind. The switch from anaerobic to aerobic metabolism happens faster in people who exercise regularly and maintain high levels of physical fitness. If you leave your car in the garage over the winter and don’t drive it at all, then when you come to take it out the engine might cough and splutter and need to be warmed up a bit before it can get going, whereas if you drive it every day it’s primed and ready to go.

    Another way to help fuel your second wind is through the use of certain supplements. L-carnitine and Omega 3 fatty acids both help to stimulate your aerobic metabolism and both will improve you cardiovascular health. L-carnitine in particular has been shown to stimulate red blood cell production, resulting in improved oxygen supply to the muscles during exercise.

    Particularly for those of us who prefer sustained, endurance style workouts, learning the mechanics of how our body fuels exercise can help us to train healthier and perform better. Once you know how to properly fuel your second wind then those first 10-15 minutes of exercise won’t feel so rough anymore, as you’ll know that the best is still to come.

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  2. Using AM Protein & Creatine Together

    Creatine and whey protein are two of the most popular muscle building supplements around and combining them is an extremely effective way of maximising your potential gains. Both of these supplements have an effect on recovery and the creation of new muscle tissue that synergise well with one another, and because the body processes them in different ways taking them together does not cause any negative effects or reduce their efficacy.

    Taking them together

    A study published in 2001 in the "International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism" showed that those who combined creatine with whey protein experienced the most gains in strength when compared to groups using no supplements or taking either creatine or whey protein alone. They also experienced greater increases in performance and improved muscle growth and volume.

    When to take them

    As whey protein is quickly absorbed and processed by the body it is perfect for the recovery period post-workout while you have a depleted store of nutrients to provide your muscles with the fuel they need to repair the micro tears caused by heavy exercise. The time you choose to take the creatine is less important, though there is some evidence that taking a post-workout shake containing whey protein and creatine along with a drink containing simple carbohydrates can create an insulin spike, drawing amino acids and other nutrients into the muscles and in turn increasing protein synthesis and creatine uptake.

    Why don’t we put creatine in with our protein powders?

    While it might be easy to find a generic recovery product that contains a blend of whey protein and creatine, at AMSport we decided against packaging our products in this way simply because a one size fits all approach to supplementation just isn’t as effective. Every person will have different requirements in order to get the most out of their supplements, and by keeping them separate our customers are able to tailor our products to their specific needs.

    As our creatine is made from 100% high quality Creapure you don’t need a high dosage of it to get the benefits you’re looking for. In fact, as little as 1-3g a day of AMSport Creatine is sufficient for the vast majority of athletes, much less than you might find in other products that might use lower quality ingredients. Not only does using Creapure mean you need less to achieve the same effect it also helps to eliminate the unpleasant side effects some people report after taking creatine it also ensures that it has no effect on the taste of your beverage (unless you choose to use our lemon and lime flavoured effervescent tablets!)

    By keeping our whey protein and creatine separate we make it easier for each individual to find their correct dosage and achieve the right balance for them. You won’t need to worry about going through a loading phase with your creatine or having to cycle off of it, and you’re still able to ramp up your protein intake as required without overloading your body with creatine that you can’t process.

    Health benefits of AM whey protein

    • Contains essential amino acids and BCAAs
    • Helps create new muscle mass
    • Aids recovery and repair of muscle tissue
    • Complete protein source
    • Helps immune system function

    Health benefits of AM creatine

    • 100% Creapure
    • Protects muscles and makes them more durable
    • Allows you to do more before feeling tired
    • Burns fat
    • Increases protein synthesis and body’s ability to produce energy
    • Improves brain power and focus
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  3. The best supplements to stack with a whey protein shake

    If you’re looking to get more out of your whey protein supplements then past a certain point increasing the amount you take isn’t going to get you the results you’re after - in fact, it’s more likely that the excess will just turn into fat as you’re consuming more protein than your body can use effectively! Whether you’re looking to lose weight, gain mass, or just stay healthy, there is one sure fire way you can really boost the effectiveness of the supplements you’re taking - stacking.

    Stacking supplements for beginners

    When people call something a supplement stack what they’re talking about is a group of supplements that are synergistic with each other. It doesn't mean that you need to take them all at the same time though, just that incorporating each of them into your training routine will help you to see even more benefits than you would if you were taking a single supplement.

    Whey protein is one of the most popular supplements around right now because it offers a myriad of different benefits so if you’re trying to amplify one of those then taking it in combination with supplements that have a similar effect will help you to meet your goals a lot faster.

    Improving strength and endurance

    If you’re the kind of person who gets a lot of satisfaction from hearing the clattering sound as you add another 25kg plate onto the barbell then stacking your whey protein with other powerful supplements can help make you the envy of the other lifters at the gym. Creatine is one of the best supplements to help you gain both size and strength because as it’s broken down during exercise it releases large amounts of energy in your muscle cells that can be used for the synthesis of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) which is essentially muscle fuel. It’s especially useful at giving you the quick burst of energy you need for intense, explosive exercises like weightlifting.

    Glutamine is a nonessential amino acid that can also work very effectively with a whey protein supplement to help you gain strength. It’s one of the most abundant amino acids in the body so it is often overlooked when it comes to supplementation, but when you’re exercising in ways that put your body under a lot of stress it can be one of the most helpful supplements around! Endurance athletes and powerlifters in particular can often find themselves deficient in glutamine and redressing this can lead to measurable gains in strength, endurance, and muscle mass. Glutamine also plays an important role in powering your immune response and athletes who supplement with it generally have lower levels of infection and recover from any muscular damage faster than those who don’t.

    Strength and endurance stack: Whey Protein, Creatine, Amino Acids

    Fast muscle mass gains

    Whey protein is fantastic for helping you with your muscle gains, but if you’re looking to put on a lot of new muscle then calorie consumption is also really important. If you’re only taking in as many calories as you burn to get through your daily activities you won’t have enough available to build muscle effectively. For this reason creating a calorie surplus with a weight gainer can really help you to get more out of your whey protein supplements as you’ll be getting a much better balance of protein, carbs, and fats.

    Pre-workout boosters are also great at helping you put on muscle mass as they’ll give you the energy to exercise longer and more effectively. AMSport’s pre-workout booster contains high levels of beta alanine and creatine which keep you sharp and boost your endurance, allowing you to extract every last ounce of performance out of your whey protein shake.

    Muscle and mass gains stack: Whey Protein, Weight Gainer, Pre-workout Booster

    Fat loss

    When you’re looking to shed some excess fat fast the obvious answer is to make sure you’re burning more calories than you take in. If you don’t plan this carefully though there’s a good chance you could throw away a lot of the progress you’ve made by losing a lot of muscle mass at the same time. Cutting the amount of whey protein you take slightly can help, as can taking it in conjunction with a BCAA supplement. Whey protein itself contains a nice amount of BCAAs but boosting your intake to around 5-10g per serving can really help you see fat loss results faster. This is because taking whey protein in conjunction with BCAAs keeps your body in a state that is more conducive to fat burning and muscle building. A lot of amino acids are lipotropic, which means that they catalyse the breakdown of fat and make it more readily available to your body as energy. With more fat to burn your body doesn’t need to start catalysing lean tissues, helping you to lose the fat while building muscle.

    L-Carnitine is another popular fat burning supplement that has great synergy with whey protein supplements. Like some of the amino acids in the BCAA supplement it helps your body turn your fat stores into energy more effectively, but it does this by helping transport long-chain fatty acids across cell membranes and straight into the mitochondria where they’re used as fuel for the creation of ATP. Because your body is burning fat instead of lean tissue for energy it also keeps your muscles working aerobically rather than anaerobically, preventing the buildup of lactic acid and letting you exercise for longer before you start to feel sore.

    Fat burning stack: Whey Protein, BCAAs, L-Carnitine


    Everybody’s perfect stack is slightly different, so you might find after a while that changing some of these combos up will work better for you. But for those of you looking to get the most out of your whey protein who don’t have the time or experience to formulate your ideal stack right now, our recommendations will help you hit your goals faster and hopefully lead to immediate improvements in your efforts at the gym. Whatever it is you’re looking for, stacking your supplements in an efficient way will help you get there!

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