6 Benefits of Using Magnesium For Athletes

Magnesium in some respects is a miracle mineral, the body utilizes it in over 300 enzyme systems. It helps with protein synthesis, sleep, nerve function, metabolic processes, and many more. How does this result back to hockey and athletics? To play at top-tier levels every energy system in the body needs to be functioning to their full capacity - magnesium helps ensure this. 

  1. Improved sleep - if you're extremely active, chances are you may lack magnesium due to your higher energy expenditure. Magnesium has been seen to produce a calming effect on the nervous system which will help regulate (calm) the nervous system and heart rate.
    • Takeaway - if you're active before bed, feel constantly overworked, or can't sleep through the full night - take magnesium to help calm your nervous system and achieve a better rested sleep.
  2. Build muscle - testosterone levels have direct correlation with muscle growth and strength, magnesium has been seen to increase testosterone levels.
    • Takeaway - not utilizing your magnesium stores to their full potential is chancing your ability to grow, low magnesium levels may slow muscle growth.
  3. Protein synthesis - in order to build muscle there needs to be ample amounts of protein synthesis. Magnesium has been seen to increase this function due to its role in the various enzyme functions it plays a part in.
    • Takeaway - like number 2, magnesium helps play a role in muscle growth by improving our enzyme systems and inducing increased protein synthesis.
  4. Stronger bones - in fast paced, contact sports, bone strength is important to reduce your risk of injury (no brainer). Magnesium is essential in the use of Vitamin D and calcium, two huge precursors for bone strength.
    • Takeaway - one of the most important enzyme systems magnesium plays a part in is bone structure and strength, ample amounts are needed to ensure constant regeneration/growth.
  5. Insulin sensitivity - people with lack of control over their insulin find it harder to recover from workouts and lose body fat. This is due to their inability to mobilize the proper energy systems when called upon. Magnesium has been seen to help regulate proper energy use, lack of magnesium results in insulin resistance which will deplete the body's glycogen stores, which can result in fat storage.
    • Takeaway - lose body fat and recover faster by taking magnesium, half of the battle is utilizing the correct energy systems to burn the right forms of energy. By doing so, you'll increase lean body mass, which is essential for athletics.
  6. Manage stress - the stress hormone cortisol is released when the body is constantly taxed. In athletics and weight lifting this is common and not an issue, although, when there's excessive release and no countering of this hormone, then cortisol becomes an issue.
    • Takeaway - like mentioned in improved sleep, magnesium's effect on the nervous system will help clear excessive cortisol levels leaving you feeling better and more energized.

The types of magnesium you consume also matters. Higher quality magnesium will be utilized by the body best, cheaper magnesium is not as bio-available as something with higher quality. We offer the best form of magnesium in the gym, ask us for more info!


5 Benefits of Supplementing Amino Acids

Protein is essential for muscle growth and recovery, but should you also be taking added amino acids (BCAAs)? BCAAs or branched chain amino acids are essential for us due to the body's inability to create them on its own. Leucine, isoleucine, and valine all need to be ingested in order for the body to utilize them. Along with this, they make up roughly 40% of the amino acids in the body making their ingestion incredibly important.

BCAAs are found in protein based foods, things like chicken, steak, fish, protein shakes, etc. This is another reason why high-protein diets are so important for athletes, the amino acids in them are what make the protein so useful for us. This being said, it's important to note that diets higher in protein are always the most important factor when worrying about amino acid intake.

BCAAs, like protein are one of the supplements that will never hurt your progress. If some days you question your total protein intake, supplementing can help ensure you're getting enough. Better safe than sorry if you're in question, here's why taking BCAAs can be so beneficial.

  1. Increased protein synthesis - we've discussed this concept in multiple articles, the more protein synthesis taking place, the better your recovery and growth. Protein synthesis is the utilization of protein to help you recover and grow faster. Since amino acids are protein building blocks, supplementing extra can be beneficial.
  2. Decreased soreness - BCAAs, especially leucine have been seen to help prevent muscle soreness (DOMS). This is due to their ability to help prevent excessive protein breakdown, ensuring you the proper fuel to keep moving forward and recover without dipping into stores only needed in extreme situations.
  3. Increase fat loss - BCAAs help improve glucose tolerance (a trait of most lean athletes) and can be used as fuel before burning through ATP and other energy reserves. Also, it has been observed that BCAAs facilitate fat loss by increasing fat oxidation and improving energy expenditure. 
  4. Increased muscle growth - supplementation of BCAAs can help increase your anabolic response (muscle growth response). Prolonged protein synthesis = more time to grow, this being said, increased aminos in the body with high-protein will create an anabolic environment.
  5. Better hormone balance - when your body is in a depleted state your cortisol (stress hormone) levels increase, which inhibits growth and slows release of muscle building hormones (testosterone and other growth hormones produced by the body). BCAAs have been seen to prevent a depleted state by supplying you with better fuel to avoid slipping into reserves pushing you to a depleted state.

Supplementing BCAAs won't hurt you, they're a great tool if you're worried you're not getting enough protein. If you don't take them are they going to make or break your progress? No, but better safe than sorry when it comes to athletic growth. We offer BCAAs in the gym and would gladly help/recommend you with any questions and regards you have!

Protein Post-Workout

It's no secret that a protein shake post workout has become a staple for most athletes and gym rats. We see more and more of our athletes drinking them after their lifts and we love it.

Ever wonder why people drink them? Here's why...

When you workout you're producing stress on the body, this is a good kind of stress-the kind of stress that facilitates recovery and growth. In order for the body to recover at an optimal level there needs to be an intake of protein, this intake will stimulate muscle protein synthesis. Protein synthesis is the use of amino acids to create proteins to repair muscle and help them grow.

This is why you see diets high in protein far more superior for athletes and regular lifters. The increased intake of protein will help stimulate more protein synthesis, especially when you're lifting and playing your sport (constantly breaking down the body).

So why a whey shake?

Whey protein is classified as a fast-digesting protein, as in, it's protein form will be easier and readily used by the body. Along with being fast digesting whey contains a lot of essential amino acids (building blocks of protein), the higher the amount of amino acids, the greater muscle protein synthesis. Protein type does matter when it comes to amino acid content, not all protein is created equal. A typical amino acid profile of the whey protein we offer is below...(it contains an optimal amount of essential amino acids, which some whey's do not)

Timing matters...

When you're playing a sport and lifting consistently protein timing becomes important, the body needs strategic recovery and energy. This is why you see so many people drinking protein post-workout, the body is in a state of needing protein and the shake can be a great start for protein synthesis (recovery). How much protein is still in debate, but a serving of 20-30 grams is a safe bet (the normal serving size).

If you're lifting and playing hockey, you're at the age that strength and growth are important keys to your success. A protein shake is a great safe supplement for helping you recover and providing the body the fuel it needs to keep performing optimally. We offer protein in the gym and will gladly answer any questions you have about the supplement and it's use for you. 


Olympic Shoes and Their Benefits

Olympic or lifting shoes are a great tool in the frequent lifter/athletes toolbox. If you've ever worked out in a pair you know exactly where I'm coming from. Although, if you don't know what they are, or why they're beneficial to your lifting–here's a quick rundown on their benefits.

  1. Ankle stability - imagine skating without a stable boot on the ice, your ankle would be more prone to injury due to the increased mobility. When lifting you want a stable base, especially when moving weight.
  2. Fixed foot - lifting shoes have a solid sole (think bowling shoes), this creates a firm ground to stand on. Which like the point above will help with ankle stability and joint strength (especially for those with knee valgus or constant knees caving in).
  3. Elevated heel - every shoe comes with an elevated heel (they vary in height), this is great for those who don't have natural lower limb mobility. For those who sit down all day at school/work, this is HUGE for helping achieve proper depth with the squat.
  4. Better mobility - the above 3 benefits all work hand-in-hand to create improved mobility. When you wear a shoe that allows proper range of motion with a stable base, the body can adapt to movements in a faster/safer way. For example, squatting in regular shoes with poor mobility can put a lot of stress on the lower back (knees caving in, lower back rounding, etc)–these shoes will work to fight that and keep the stress of the movement to the appropriate areas.

If you're in the gym frequently and care about your future strength progress as an athlete, borrow someone's shoes sometime or look into purchasing your own pair. You won't regret it.

"Yeah you could play hockey in both figure skates or ice hockey skates, sure they'll both work, but one has it's clear benefits and will function better." - Jon DiFlorio CSCS Owner of Institute 3E