Carbohydrates are the primary source of energy for the human body and make up the majority of the content of foods like bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, oats and many grains. Carbohydrates (saccharides) are divided into four chemical groupings: monosaccharide’s, disaccharides, oligosaccharides, and polysaccharides and are the body's primary source of energy. In general, the monosaccharide’s and disaccharides, which are smaller (lower molecular weight) carbohydrates, are commonly referred to as sugars or simple carbohydrates due to their simple chemical structures. Oligosaccharides, and polysaccharides are generally referred to as complex carbohydrates as they have a larger more complex structure. In general, simple carbs digest faster than complex carbs as they are easier to break down and digest although modern research has shown that the GI and GL (see Glycemic Index & Glycemic Load) of a carbohydrate should also be taken into account. A good example of this is Glucose and fructose – both are simple in structure (both monosaccharide’s) but have very different GI ratings (100 and 23 respectively).
Glucose - is a simple monosaccharide carbohydrate (see Carbohydrates) and an important carbohydrate in biology. Cells use it as the primary source of energy.
Fructose - or fruit sugar, is a simple monosaccharide carbohydrate (see Carbohydrates) found in many plants. Fructose has a lower Glycemic index (see Glycemic index GI) than glucose and therefore releases slower.
Maltodextrin - is a carbohydrate (polysaccharide – see carbohydrates) that is produced from starch by partial hydrolysis. Maltodextrin is easily digestible, being absorbed as rapidly as glucose and makes it a suitable choice in sports drinks.
Isomaltulose – is a special low-glycaemic (see glycemic index GI) and low-insulinemic (see insulin) carbohydrate. The effect of isomaltulose is that the glucose enters the blood at a slow rate, avoiding high peaks and sudden drops in glucose levels and therefore insulin levels as well. This leads to a more balanced and sustained energy supply in the form of glucose. This makes isomlatulose a good choice in recovery products when you need a sustained supply of energy to help muscles recover and repair after exercise.
Sucrose (sugar) – is a disaccharide carbohydrate (see carbohydrates) composed of glucose and fructose.
Glycemic index (GI) - is a measure of the effects of carbohydrates on blood sugar levels. Carbohydrates that break down quickly during digestion and release glucose rapidly into the bloodstream have a high GI; carbohydrates that break down more slowly, releasing glucose more gradually into the bloodstream, have a low GI. However, the Glycemic index of a complete meal can behave very differently to when individual components are eaten in isolation.
Glycemic load (GL) is a ranking system for carbohydrate content in food portions based on their glycemic index (GI) and a standardized portion size of 100g. Glycemic load or GL combines both the quality and quantity of carbohydrate in one number. It is the best way to predict blood glucose values of different types and amounts of food. The formula is: GL = GI x the amount of available carbohydrate in a 100g serving / 100. A GL greater than 20 is considered high, a GL of 11-19 is considered medium, and a GL of 10 or less is considered low. Foods that have a low GL almost always have a low GI. Foods with an intermediate or high range GL range from a very low to very high GI.
Proteins – are chains made of amino acids (see Amino Acids) linked together by peptide bonds. In nutrition, proteins are broken down in the stomach during digestion by enzymes known as proteases into smaller polypeptides to provide amino acids for the body, including the essential amino acids that cannot be biosynthesized (made) by the body itself. The Amino acids can then be used by the body to create new structures like muscle tissue.
Whey protein concentrate - is a fast digesting protein that is particularly rich in Essential Amino Acids (EAA's) and Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA’s). Concentrates contain low levels of fat, cholesterol and carbs but do in general, have higher levels of bioactive compounds. There are many types of whey protein concentrate of varying qualities both in manufacturing method and in purity. It is important that the protein is filtrated and dried under low temperatures in order to keep the stability of the protein and therefore ensure the highest levels of availability (usable proteins). They range in purity content from 30-80%. Cheaper forms of Whey concentrates filtrated at higher temperatures can be denatured and contain low percentages of active compounds.
Whey protein isolate – is whey protein that has undergone an additional filtration process compared to whey concentrate to remove further amounts of carbohydrates (mainly lactose) to yield a higher % whey protein of around 90%. There are two types of filtration, ion exchange and micro/ultra filtration. Ion exchange uses high temperatures and could denature the protein, whereas ultra filtration is performed under low temperatures and is considered to yield higher levels of bioactive compounds.
Milk Protein – milk protein contains both casein and whey proteins in a ratio of 80-20 respectively. The proteins still have their peptide and polypeptide bonds intact and therefore lead to slower digestion rates compared to pure whey proteins. The slower digestive properties of milk protein lend themselves to situations where a sustained release of amino acids is required; like in the hours following exercise and in between meals to help promote a feeling of fullness.
Milk Protein isolate – has undergone additional filtration steps to remove fat and carbohydrates. The process is a physical one that leaves the native proteins intact. Milk protein Isolate generally digests at a medium to slow speed.
Hydrolysed Milk Protein – has undergone pre-digestion by adding enzymes leading to faster digestion
Calcium Caseinate – is extracted from milk protein (from milk). It breaks down at a slower rate than milk protein and whey protein, thus supplying the body with a slow release supply of amino acid.
Soya Protein – is good complete protein derived from soya beans which is a source of protein suitable for vegans. Soya protein generally digests at a medium speed.
Protein digestion – it is believed that the body can only digest around 25 grams of protein in one serving time frame. So it is not advised to consume more than this amount of fast digesting proteins like whey protein. Milk proteins and casein proteins digest over a longer period and can be beneficial post exercise due to their sustained release properties. Researchers believe the optimum time to ingest proteins after exercise is within the first 30 minutes, but also recommend additional ingestion a few hours later to optimise muscle recovery and adaptation. Using a combination of a protein containing whey and milk protein sources can help provide both a fast and prolonged supply in the hours following exercise. See products with Real-PROS2 , S3 & S4.
Amino acids - can be divided into either essential amino acids or non-essential amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks from which all proteins are made up. Most animal and certain vegetable proteins are considered complete proteins with a full complement of essential amino acids in adequate proportions. People who avoid animal products (including milk) may risk an inadequate supply of essential amino acids.
Essential amino acids, which must be obtained from food sources, are leucine, isoleucine, valine, lysine, threonine, tryptophan, methionine, phenylalanine and histidine.
Non-essential amino acids can be made by the body from other amino acids. The non-essential amino acids are arginine, alanine, asparagine, aspartic acid, cysteine, glutamine, glutamic acid, glycine, proline, serine, and tyrosine. There are also a group of amino acids called Branched Chain Amino Acids (see BCAA’s), these are the most abundant in muscle tissue.
Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA’s) - The BCAAs are among the nine essential amino acids and , account for 35% of the essential amino acids in muscle proteins. They are L-Isoleucine, L-Valine L-Leucine. It is important to consume protein that contains good levels of BCAA’s like Real-PRO whey to support muscle development and recovery due to their importance in muscle tissue.
Individual Amino Acids
L-Isoleucine is an essential branched chain amino acid found in high concentrations in muscle proteins. BCAA’s are essential for muscle repair and recovery and are found in eggs, turkey, chicken, lamb, cheese and fish.
L-Leucine is a BCAA and also a precursor of beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate (HMB) – a supplement taken by many people to slow muscle protein breakdown and maintain lean muscle gains. Supplemental intakes of leucine have been shown to stimulate muscle protein growth and repair.
L-Valine is a BCAA which can help muscle repair and growth. Foods rich in valine include peanuts, meats, dairy products, fish, poultry, sesame seeds, lentils, soya, and mushrooms
L-Lysine plays an important role in the production of carnitine, an important amino acid for helping to utilise fats as a source of energy. Lysine is important for the absorption of calcium and healthy cartilage and connective tissue.
L-Methionine is an essential amino acid which is required for the production of the body’s natural antioxidant, glutathione. L-Methionine is also required for the production of the amino acids cysteine and taurine and plays a key role in the metabolism of fats.
L-Phenylalanine is used by the body to produce the non-essential amino acid tyrosine. L-Phenylalanine is available in supplement form where it is popular for its reputed analgesic and anti-depressant properties.
L-Threonine is an essential amino acid which is found in cottage cheese, poultry, fish and lentils. Threonine plays a key role in the maintenance of healthy connective tissue and the production of muscle and brain chemicals.
L-Tryptophan is a precursor of serotonin and melatonin involved in emotional wellbeing and healthy sleeping patterns. L-tryptophan is found naturally in milk, eggs and meat.
L-Histidine is an essential amino acid, which as well as being key for muscle protein synthesis, is also a precursor of the muscle antioxidant carnosine. Carnosine is also a powerful buffer against lactic acid, and increased concentrations allow muscles to work harder for longer.
L-Tyrosine is a precursor to a number of neurochemicals and also the skin pigment melanin. Tyrosine is a non-essential amino acid because it can be produced in the body from phenylalanine, where it is a key muscle protein constituent.
L-Alanine is used by the body to make beta-alanine which is used alongside histidine to produce carnosine (see L-histidine).
L-Arginine is used by the body to produce nitric oxide – a powerful signalling molecule which aids circulation to all parts of the body including the muscles. L-arginine is also required by the body to produce creatine.
L-Aspartic acid is a component of muscle and a powerful neurotransmitter. Good dietary sources include luncheon meats, sausage meat and wild game.
L-Cysteine is found in hair proteins and is a precursor of the naturally occurring antioxidant glutathione. A derivative of cysteine, namely N-acetyl-L-cysteine, is found in many dietary supplements where it is taken for its antioxidant and liver protective properties.
L-Glutamic acid is a powerful neurotransmitter and a component of muscle protein. Glutamic acid is a used by the body to produce Gamma Aminobutyric acid (GABA), which has a tranquilising effect in the body. Fish, eggs, meat and wheat provide a dietary source of this amino acid.
L-Glycine is a component of protein and important for the production of growth hormones in the body. L-Glycine also helps prevent muscle protein break down and aids repair and recovery.
L-Proline is not an essential amino acid is derived from glutamic acid in the body. Proline is one of the main constituents of collagen.
L-Serine plays an important role in the function of the brain and nervous system. Serine also helps with the absorption of creatine.
L-Glutamine is a key amino acid for muscle repair and recovery. Studies have also shown that supplemental intakes of glutamine reduce the risk of colds and flu caused by immunosuppression following intensive exercise.
Function of fats – Are essential for the human body to exist and function and are required for proper nerve function and hormone synthesis, as well as helping to provide insulation from the cold. It is a good idea to limit the dietary intake of saturated fats and hydrogenated oils, but ensure an adequate intake of polyunsaturated essential fatty acids found in fish, nuts and seeds.
Unsaturated fat like olive oil, peanut oil, canola oil, avocados, safflower, corn, sunflower and soya is a fat or fatty acid in which there is at least one double bond within the fatty acid chain. A fat molecule is monounsaturated if it contains one double bond, and polyunsaturated if it contains more than one double bond. Where double bonds are formed, hydrogen atoms are eliminated.
Saturated fat has no double bonds, has the maximum number of hydrogen’s bonded to the carbons, and is therefore "saturated" with hydrogen atoms. Diets high in saturated fats including meat, dairy products, and lard are considered to be less healthy than diets higher in polyunsaturated fats.
CLA (Conjugated linoleic acid) is a special fat that is found in nature and the supplement form is derived from safflowers. CLA is known for its body weight management properties, which include reducing body fat and increasing lean muscle mass. Over 30 clinical studies have been published investigating the effect of CLA on weight management. However, the source of CLA should be considered as the content and properties of the oil can vary. (see Clarinol CLA).
MCT (medium chain triglycerides) - are generally considered a good source of energy that the human body finds relatively easy digest because they do not require energy for absorption, utilization, or storage. They have potentially beneficial attributes in protein metabolism and fat oxidation. Palm kernel oils is a good source of MCTS.
Dietary fibre, or sometimes roughage is the indigestible portion of plant foods, having two main components: soluble (prebiotic, viscous) fibre that is readily fermented in the colon into gases and physiologically active by products, and insoluble fibre that is metabolically inert, absorbing water as it moves through the digestive system. These properties assist digestion and promote a healthy bacterial environment in the digestive tract.
Inulin - it is considered a form of soluble fibre and is sometimes categorized as a prebiotic. Inulin could also have health benefits such as increasing calcium and magnesium absorption, while promoting the growth of intestinal bacteria that support digestion.
Oligiofructose – is a fructooligosaccharide (FOS) and is a type of Inulin.
Vitamin A retinyl acetate – is important for vision and reproductive health. In addition, vitamin A plays an important role in a healthy immune system and the maintenance of healthy skin, teeth and soft tissues.
Beta-carotene – a carotenoid naturally found in fruits and vegetables, beta carotene may help to support the body’s natural antioxidant activity against free radicals generated during exposure to sunlight. Beta carotene can be converted by the body into vitamin A.
Biotin – important for healthy hair and nails, biotin is also important in extracting energy from food.
Vitamin B3 (niacin or nicotinamide), is key for energy production from food and the metabolism of protein, carbohydrates and fats. Vitamin B3 can be derived from beef, pork, eggs and beans
Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid or calcium pantothenate) is involved in the formation of proteins and the natural synthesis of hormones. Foods with high levels of vitamin B5 include beef, chicken and oat based cereals
Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine hydrochloride) is essential for protein metabolism, energy production and nerve function. Diets high in meat, fortified cereals, beans, peas and fruit provide above average intakes of vitamin B6.
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) helps the body extract energy from food together with activating vitamin B6. Good food source of vitamin B2 are fortified breakfast cereals and dairy products
Vitamin B1 (thiamine) is a catalyst for energy production in the body as well as nerve and muscle function. Diets rich in fortified cereals, nuts and legumes provide good levels of vitamin B1.
Vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin) plays a pivotal role in energy production and the formation of red blood cells – transporters of oxygen to the muscles. Vitamin B12 is vital for the proper development and function of the nervous system. Foods rich in vitamin B12 include beef, lamb, eggs and dairy products.
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is a water-soluble antioxidant and plays an important role in immune function as well as muscle repair and recovery. Good food sources of vitamin C include blackcurrants, kiwi fruit, sprouts and broccoli.
Vitamin D (cholecalciferol) is often called the “sunshine vitamin” because it can be made naturally by the body through exposure to sunlight. Vitamin D is important for muscle strength, immune function and the absorption of dietary calcium.
Vitamin E (tocopheryl acetate) is a fat-soluble antioxidant nutrient which naturally protects muscles against reactive chemicals produced during exercise. These damaging molecules called “free radicals” are formed when burning energy, and vitamin E help to neutralise their effects.
Folic acid is better known for its role during pregnancy in ensuring the proper development of the nervous system and helping to reduce the incidence of spina bifidae. However, folic acid is also important for energy production and maintaining cardiovascular and circulatory health.
Calcium is well known for its role in the health of bones and teeth, but it is an essential mineral for muscle protein synthesis, recovery and cardiovascular function.
Chloride is most commonly derived from sodium chloride (table salt). Chloride is an essential electrolyte located in body fluids and is responsible for maintaining pH balance.
Chromium is required in trace amounts for sugar and fat metabolism. Supplemental amounts are taken to reduce insulin resistance and help balance blood sugar levels.
Copper is only required in trace amounts has been shown to enhance absorption of zinc and iron. Copper is also a component of the antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase (SOD) and is required for the formation of ATP.
Iron is a key component of the pigment haemoglobin found in red blood cells and plays a pivotal role in oxygen transport. Meat and animal products provide the most absorbable form of iron (haem iron) and this can be improved further by consuming with vitamin C rich foods.
Iodine is an essential trace element important for regulating metabolic rate. A deficiency of iodine can lead to hypothyroidism (under-active thyroid gland).
Magnesium has numerous metabolic functions in the body and is essential for energy production. Magnesium is required bone formation, fat metabolism and for the secretion and activation of insulin.
Manganese is a trace element that can be derived from vegetables, nuts and seeds. Manganese is needed to assist cartilage formation, activate SOD and to help regulate blood sugar levels.
Molybdenum is a trace element found naturally in green leafy vegetables, beans and grains. Molybdenum helps metabolise iron and is required for a number of other metabolic processes in the body.
Potassium helps regulate water balance, blood pressure and muscle function. Bananas are an excellent source of potassium as are a number of other fruits and vegetables.
Selenium is often lacking in Western diets due to intensive farming methods which have stripped this mineral from the soil. Selenium plays a role in antioxidant enzyme and thyroid function.
Sodium is most commonly derived from table salt (sodium chloride). Sodium has a plethora of roles in the body and the majority of people have no trouble meeting their needs. Endurance athletes need to safeguard their sodium levels by drinking hydration drinks containing sodium and other electrolytes to prevent deficiencies.
Zinc is essential for muscle protein synthesis and fatty acid metabolism. Zinc also plays a key role in immune function and muscle repair and recovery. Food source include sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, beef and peanuts.
Creatine monohydrate - Creatine is naturally produced in the human body from amino acids primarily in the kidney and liver. Creatine is transported in the blood for use by muscles. Creatine phosphate (CP) provides an energy store that can be called upon for fast intense movements like lifting weights or sprinting. Creatine as a supplement works by saturating the spare space that the body doesn’t normally use and enhancing this energy supply. Additionally Creatine draws fluid into the muscle and provides more favorable environment for recovery as other nutrient’s can be drawn in more efficiently as part of this process. Creatine is probably the most researched and proven supplement on the market with literally 1000s of scientific papers published on its effects. There are other forms of Creatine other than Creatine monohydrate but it is this version that has the proven research behind it.
Caffeine - Caffeine is found naturally in nature in foods like coffee beans, cocoa and Guarana (see Guarana). It was thought to be purely a stimulant until around 10 years ago when scientists actually discovered caffeine works through several mechanisms. The most important effect is to counteract a substance called adenosine that naturally circulates at high levels throughout the body, and especially in the nervous system. This counter effect produces a raised sense of alertness and the metabolites of caffeine may increase fat utilization and decrease glycogen utilization. Caffeine mobilizes free fatty acids from fat and/or intramuscular triglycerides by increasing circulating adrenalin levels. The increased availability of free fatty acids increases fat oxidation and spares muscle glycogen, thereby enhancing endurance performance. In the nervous system, caffeine may reduce the perception of effort by lowering the neuron activation threshold, making it easier to recruit the muscles for exercise.
L-Carnitine - Is naturally found in living cells and is required for the transport of fatty acids into the mitochondria (energy creation centre) during the breakdown of fats for the generation of energy. A 2011 scientific study showed that long term consumption of L-Carnitine L-Tartrate resulted in increased performance and reduced muscle glycogen usage which would suggest more fat was used as energy.
Clarinol CLA (Conjugated linoleic acid) – Clarinol is a specific version of CLA developed by Lipid Nutrition BV and is rich in the specific isomers proven to be effective in research. Clarinol has had many scientific studies published showing its effectiveness and is regarded as the highest quality CLA supplement on the market.
Guarana Extract – Guarana is a natural plant seed extract that contains both high levels of caffeine and polyphenols which are strong antioxidants. It has been used in Brazil for centuries and remains the most popular ingredient in drinks there.
Green Tea Extract – Is derived naturally from green tea leaves. Green Tea contains powerful antioxidant ingredients – mainly green tea catechins and bioflavonoids. Additionally, Green Tea has been shown in research to increase fat utilization.
L-Glutamine - Glutamine is the most abundant naturally occurring, non-essential amino acid in the human body. It is found circulating in the blood as well as stored in the skeletal muscles. Glutamine has been studied extensively over the past 10–15 years and has been shown to be useful in muscle recovery and healing and has also been shown to support the immune system.