Some Thoughts on Having That Better Body

“A bear, however hard he tries, grows tubby without exercise.”

A. A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh

Whether we like it or not, we all need to do some regular form of exercise if we truly want to maintain a healthy lifestyle.  Below are articles about supplements like proteins and amino acids, which you might expect to see when you are searching out information about making your exercise work best for you, but there are also some supplements discussed that you might be surprised to find may support your exercise goals.


Better Body: Proteins with exercise improved body composition in two new studies

from Natural Insights August 2014

Whey protein and exercise

“There is something unique about whey protein when it comes to building lean body mass and maintaining or losing weight,” doctors said. Researchers analyzed 14 studies covering 626 generally healthy adults who took whey protein with or without exercise.

In five studies where whey protein replaced calories, participants lost an average of 9.2 pounds of body weight. In nine studies of whey protein with resistance exercise, participants who took whey protein increased lean body mass by an average of 4.9 pounds.

Discussing their findings, doctors said there is a growing body of research that supports the benefits of whey protein for maintaining weight and increasing lean body mass.

Reference: Journal of the American College of Nutrition; 2014, Vol. 33, No. 2

Soy-dairy protein blend

Amino acids form proteins that help build muscle. Transporting amino acids into muscle and keeping them there longer after exercise can help build and repair muscle. In this study, 16 healthy participants, aged 19 to 30, took a soy-dairy protein drink, or whey protein alone, one hour after exercise. The soy-dairy formula included 25 percent each soy protein isolate and whey protein isolate and 50 percent caseinate.

The soy-dairy protein continued to transport amino acids into muscle one hour longer compared to whey protein alone. Also in the soy-dairy group, the level of amino acids remained elevated in leg muscle during the post-workout recovery period, suggesting prolonged muscle building activity with the soy-dairy protein combination.

Doctors said more consumers are beginning to recognize how important protein is for overall health and well-being, and that this study shows that a soy-dairy supplement may improve muscle fitness for everyone from the casual exerciser looking to maintain health to the serious sports enthusiast seeking better performance.

Reference: Journal of Applied Physiology; 2014, Published Online


Better Performance

from Natural Insights August 2014

The body makes beta-alanine, an amino acid that can increase muscle strength, mass, and endurance. In this study, 40 athletically trained or untrained men took a placebo or 6,400 mg of beta-alanine per day for four weeks.

Doctors tested anaerobic power, capacity, and fatigue before and after beta-alanine or placebo, using four 30-second lower body Wingate bouts—a short-duration, high-intensity exercise that builds strength and mass.

Untrained men who took the placebo had weaker performance while trained men on placebo did not change. But both trained and untrained men improved performance after taking beta-alanine for four weeks.

Reference: Amino Acids; 2014, Vol. 46, No. 5, 1207-15


Better Performance and Endurance: Nutrients help athletes perform better, recover faster

from Natural Insights July 2014

Pycnogenol aids training and recovery

In the first study to test Pycnogenol® in high-stress sports training, 147 men and women prepared for a triathlon while taking 100 mg of Pycnogenol per day or a placebo. After eight weeks, all participants improved two-mile run times, with the men and women taking Pycnogenol improving more than placebo. Oxidative stress decreased in all groups, with results significantly better for Pycnogenol. Also, the Pycnogenol group was able to perform more push-ups and sit-ups.

In the second study phase, 54 men took 150 mg of Pycnogenol per day or a placebo and completed triathlon training, improving more than placebo in cycling and running scores. Total triathlon time was about 90 minutes for Pycnogenol and 96 minutes for placebo, with the Pycnogenol group cutting twice as many minutes off their time as placebo. Cramps and post-running pain were much less for Pycnogenol but unchanged for placebo.

Reference: Journal of Sports Medicine & Physical Fitness; 2013, Vol. 53, No. 6, 644-54

Vitamin D keeps endurance athletes healthy

Athletes hate getting colds, but even when training outdoors, don’t get enough health-protecting sunlight in winter. In this study, researchers measured levels of vitamin D and an immune antimicrobial protein called cathelicidin in 225 athletes at the start and end of a 16-week winter training session.

Levels of cathelicidin and infection-fighting capacity were highest in those with optimal vitamin D levels. About half the athletes were low or deficient in vitamin D throughout the study, and developed more upper respiratory tract symptoms compared to those with optimal levels; 20 to 60 nanograms of vitamin D per milliliter of blood.

Reference: Exercise Immunology Review; 2013, Vol. 19, 86-101


Always check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program.  Also, remember that these articles are meant for educational purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice.  It is always a good idea to discuss any supplement use with your health care provider before beginning a new supplement.  For example, pycnogenol and vitamin D also thin blood, and soy protein may be contraindicated for those with hormone-related issues.

The articles in this post are copyrighted 2014 by Natural Insights for Well Being.  All rights reserved.  Used with permission.

In health,