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Everything posted by Cemmos

  1. Cemmos

    Welcome to Androgrow!

    Welcome to Androgrow, everyone. I'm excited to officially pre-launch the site as we start to fill it with some fresh content. You could call it a beta of sorts, but technically all of the features have been through internal testing and there's not much reason to call it a test at this stage. But whatever you want to call it, let's go through a few points: The site is brand new and was in development over the past couple of months. It is, at the time of this writing, quite bare-bones. There's not much content, and as such, the site is not really being pushed and advertised fully at the moment. We'll be leaving that for when we actually have reading material around the site. While I say all of the features have been tested, the site is not and essentially never will be feature-locked. We're always looking to add and modify features as the site grows. With that said, it's always an exciting time when launching a new website or project. Here's a little bit about myself: I go by Cemmos (Latin, or "hard" C pronunciation) and one of my passions is running online communities. I've been around this community stuff since, I believe, 2005. I'm a web designer by profession, but I much prefer designing for the sites I run, rather than for other people or companies. I've also managed communities professionally as a contractor. Beyond the online aspects of my life, I've always been into fitness and am a decently sporty person by nature. I was in the military for a few years before I decided to pursue my career online. Based off the little I've told you, you can guess why Androgrow came to be: it's an online community, it's about fitness, health and self-growth, and I designed it myself. The backbone of the site is a software called Invision Community, which is a great suite of software and should serve us well going forward. Some of my hopes for Androgrow's future include, Becoming a reliable and reputable source of fitness and health information. Offering a platform for like-minded and individualistic people to gather, share information, and grow together. Releasing a line of products created through the use of science and study that can help your personal endeavors, whatever they may be. We're not backed by any large (or small, really) corporate entity and hope to remain that way. We will need to produce income in some way for the site to thrive, but that's not a method that's on the radar whatsoever. It may seem strange that I'm bringing up income in the very first news blog of the site, but I'm all about transparency. I don't like when I don't know what's going on with a community that I'm a part of, or when it feels like those that run it are sketchy. I'd much rather get this out there, let you know my thoughts, and if you don't like my line of thinking — at least you know from the get-go, right? Now that I've told you a little bit about myself and some of what the site aims to be, welcome! If you have any questions, feel free to hit me up with a DM here on the site, or use the contact form. There's a link at the bottom of every page. Because this is a community-based website, I'll be on the lookout for potential enthusiasts that are willing to help out with moderation as the community grows. If you haven't already, go ahead and sign up on the site to get your profile created. I hope to see you around the community! - Cemmos
  2. There's been debate about whether free weights or machines are best when it comes to working out at the gym. Instead of debating it, let's just take a look at the pros and cons of each, and which option may be best for you. We'll be leaving out cable machines since those have aspects of both (cables are great to use though, in case you wanted an opinion). Weight Machines Pros Easy to use. Because they're very mechanical, the movements make them really simple to use. If you're still in doubt, most machines in your gym will likely have a small picture set on them showing how to use the machine. Along with the pictures, there can also be a set of instructions for further reinforcement. Less chance of injury. Since they're easy to use, beginners and elderly don't necessarily need to learn the proper form of a workout since the machine is essentially doing that for them. Don't get me wrong: there are still wrong ways of using a particular weight machine, but the likelihood of that is lessened when compared to using free weights. They're safer, so you don't need a spotter. If you're the type that wants (or needs) to work out alone, you can set the weight quite high and never need a spotter. You can isolate muscle groups. For bodybuilders, this may be an important factor. To be able to maximize hypertrophy in specific muscle groups and achieve the physique you're aiming for, a machine can lessen the use of of stabilizers, allowing you to target the exact muscles that you want to grow. Cons Inability to use stabilizing muscles. On the other end of isolation, not being able to work your stabilizers can lead to injury; beginners that only ever work out using machines that move over to free weights may find themselves getting injured due to the muscle stabilizers getting little to no training previously. The workouts aren't functional to the type of movements we typically do in the "real world." They translate less to our movement patterns, making machines less ideal for athletes or those that do manual labor. Free Weights Pros Functional movements. Because you have to use your stabilizing muscles to use free weights, they allow you to train more functionally than machines do. Hitting those small muscles that machines don't allow you to will make you to get stronger in those particular lifts. These functional movements and overall stronger muscles can translate to the activities you do outside of the gym. Less mechanical. You'll be able to work out in a much more natural way: since machines can't take into account your actual body shape, flexibility and proportions, with free weights you'll be able to do workouts that exactly suit you. This means more range of motion as well. More variation. Working out in the same way on a machine can get boring. Boredom can become less desire to work out, making your overall progress slow down. You're also stuck with whatever machines your gym provides, and not all gyms have a wide array of machines to pick from. The amount of variation you can have with free weights is just about endless, making your workouts more interesting. Cons Harder to do "properly." Free weights don't come with a set of instructions. While there are plenty of "easy" exercises you can do with free weights, they do have a slightly higher barrier for entry compared to machines. More chance of injury. Because proper form and technique are harder to learn with free weights than machines, it's easier to injure yourself by doing an exercise wrong. There are also no safety mechanisms with free weights; if you fail to do an exercise, the weight needs to end up somewhere. Which Is Best for You? If you're a beginner, someone in rehabilitation, or are at an age where machines are simply easier for you to use, go with machines. This can help you make your transitions into the gym easier, and you're more likely to start right away without needing advice from a coach or trainer. After you've gotten comfortable and a little more fit, you can start adding free weights to your routine. For those that are already past the beginner stages: you're probably already using free weights. If you're not and you've been using primarily machines, I urge you to consider adding free weights to your routine. Don't neglect your stabilizers for much longer — no matter what your fitness or physique goal is, the chance of getting injured is not worth it and will set you way back, should that happen. In the end, I highly recommend free weights to just about everyone, unless there's an issue preventing you from using them. But weight machines do have their place in the gym and they get disparaged more than they should. Either way and no matter which you decide to utilize, the fact that you're staying active and improving yourself is the most important factor here.
  3. Cemmos

    Whey vs. Casein for Building Muscle

    Many athletes, and nearly all bodybuilders, supplement with some type of protein powder. Getting all of your macronutrients solely from food (your diet) isn't the easiest thing to do when you have and are building considerable muscle mass. Sometimes you go over your daily calorie limit trying to get enough protein, or maybe you end up taking in too much fat. With a protein powder like whey or casein, you're able to get a huge boost of protein without doing those things. You also spend much less time eating, since a shake in a blender bottle takes very little time out of your day. What Are Whey and Casein Protein? Whey is considered to be a fast digesting protein. It's what people will recommend one takes directly before or after resistance training, as your body will metabolize it more quickly than casein. Casein, on the other hand, is considered a slow digesting protein. Most proteins will be considered slow, especially when taken with a mixed meal as many people tend to do (think steak and potatoes with a side of veggies). How Whey (Powder) is Made It's essentially what's left over after milk has been curdled and strained when producing cheese. The milk curdles (casein), and the leftover liquid (whey) is then dried into a powder by separating the water from it. How Casein (Powder) is Made Like whey, casein comes from milk as well and it's the predominant protein in milk. Once the milk curdles, those curdles are then dehydrated into casein powder. Casein and Whey Protein (Milk) Promote Lean Mass In a study conducted on 56 healthy, untrained males over 12 weeks, skim milk was overall superior to that of soy milk and an isocaloric carbohydrate drink. Those drinking the milk saw the biggest decrease in body fat and the biggest increase in muscle mass (hypertrophy). One thing that we can take away from this study is that a mixture of whey and casein are great for building mass and increasing strength. So the question still remains unanswered: which of the two is superior in that respect? Whey Stimulates Protein Synthesis Since whey protein is a much faster digesting protein compared to casein, it's able to more rapidly augment protein synthesis. One reason is due to its higher level of leucine — an amino acid that stimulates such synthesis. The digestion rate of protein is an independent regulating factor of postprandial protein retention: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11158939 The acute and abundant amounts of amino acids that enter your blood from whey is what's doing the heavy lifting when it comes to protein synthesis. With whey, you're able to metabolize the protein quickly, resulting in a spike of amino acids in your blood. Casein Helps Prevent Muscle Breakdown Because of casein's slower digestion rate, it can help to create a positive protein balance that prevents the catabolism of muscle by prolonging the duration that amino acids stay in your blood. Slow and fast dietary proteins differently modulate postprandial protein accretion: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9405716 Our Recommendation Whey. Casein is much easier to come by in your regular diet; you can drink milk, and you can eat cheeses or meats. If you're going to buy a supplement in powdered form, whey just seems like the most appropriate choice. Take it before or after a workout (or both), and you'll be be metabolizing that protein much quicker than if you bought the casein variation. There's definitely efficacy to those that answer this with "use both," but purely in terms of a powdered form that you spend your hard-earned money on... whey is the way. To summarize and avoid confusion: both of these are important and we certainly recommend getting both types of protein everyday. Casein you'll simply have through meals, and whey you can pick up as a supplement to take before and after your workout and first thing in the morning.
  4. The difference can be confusing for the mere fact that you supplement your diet by taking vitamins, or you take supplements that contain vitamins. While the two like to intertwine, there is a small difference between what they are. Vitamins Vitamins technically fall under the supplement category. Like I mentioned above, you can supplement your diet with vitamins. These will generally come in pill-form, and sometimes in powdered form such as with some forms of vitamin C, like calcium ascorbate. Some other examples of vitamins include: Vitamin D Folic acid (vitamin B9) Vitamin B12 Vitamin A Many more... Another way of getting vitamins that many people don't realize is through fortified foods. Because many vitamins are hard to come by in food (vitamin D for example), there are many foods available that have been fortified with vitamins. Depending on the country and its food regulations, fortified foods may be more common in some areas of the world compared to others. Supplements Supplements, on the other hand, are a wider variety of dietary products that may contain vitamins, minerals, herbs, and other nutrients. A good example of a supplement is creatine; it's produced in the body, but many people supplement with it due to the health and athletic benefits it provides. Some other examples of supplements include: Fish Oil Ginseng Glutamine The list goes on — there are far too many supplements to list here. Vitamins nor Supplements Are FDA-backed Supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, contrary to what many may believe. This is due to the fact that, for things to be approved by the FDA, they need to be scientifically scrutinized to their standards. This isn't to say that science hasn't shown the potential of certain supplements, but just that they haven't quite met the standards of the FDA. When purchasing a supplement, it's important to know the quality of the product you're purchasing. Buy from reputable companies that do third-party testing, as the FDA isn't the one checking your supplements to see if they're legitimately healthy for you. A great source that does their own testing on popular brands is Labdoor. This site tests and ranks supplements and they are free of manufacturer biases. They even give science reports on individual products along with infographs. Concluding... To recap, a vitamin is something you can supplement and it falls under the supplement category. Supplements, however, are a wider variety of substances that are aimed at bettering one's health and don't always need to have vitamins in them. A vitamin can be in the form of a supplement, but a supplement need not be a vitamin. Always be wary of who you're buying products from and try to find the most reputable sources for your supplements. If something seems cheaper than the rest of its competitors, this should raise a red flag and you may want to look elsewhere. You are, after all, supplementing for health reasons — so buy products you know are good for your body.
  5. Facial hair is grown due to the androgens testosterone and dihydrotestosterone (DHT), and how well your body utilizes these via local androgen sensitivity. Without the combination of these, facial hair can be sparse, giving an appearance of a weak beard. If you're the type, like us, that wants to fully utilize your body's hormones to grow a fuller beard, you've come to the right place. Bear in mind that while these tips are sure to grow you a better beard, they won't necessarily make you grow a thick, full beard if you can't already grow something as it is; genetics still play a role in how your facial hair grows. We can, however, improve our circumstance with Androgrow's philosophy — through the use of science, practice, and passion. And in this particular case: a little patience. One: High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and/or Resistance Training High intensity interval training has been shown to increase free testosterone. Even if you're a fairly active person, but one that doesn't partake in any sort of high-intensity training, you'll see the benefits of increased testosterone. With more T, you'll also be increasing your DHT. Testosterone responses to intensive interval versus steady-state endurance exercise: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23310924 If you're not active at all, now's as good a time as any to get started. Those in this inactive category will likely see the most benefits due to their current lifestyle. From mental wellness to an overall better-working body, to better facial hair. Fat stores estrogen, so losing a bit of body fat through HIIT can better balance your natural hormones. As for resistance training, that's another option to either add onto, or replace, HIIT. The difference should merely be personal: would you rather hit the weights, or go sprinting? It's not always that basic, of course, but it's the quickest way to explain the difference between the two. Two: Beard Products As contradictory as this may sound due to the fact that many beard products on the market contain anti-androgens, there are some that can be helpful to your facial hair. Not necessarily through increasing androgen, but through stimulatory factors like enhanced blood flow to the local area. Guys generally don't rub their faces with product everyday, but adding a beard oil or balm into your routine does just that. Along with brushing and combing your beard, this creates a method of regularly supplying your face with nutrients. Nutrients, testosterone and DHT are all found in your blood, so bringing these useful resources in abundance to your face is only a good thing. In terms of brushing, a simple boar's hair brush is a good option, as the bristles are stiff enough to stimulate, but soft enough not to be too abrasive to your skin. Three & Four: Vitamins & Supplements Vitamins Since our hair and bodies require macro and micronutrients to function properly, it's a no-brainer that you should always fill your nutritional gaps in some way. In terms of vitamins, you have a couple of choices: Buy fortified foods that contain vitamins that much of the population is deficient in. Buy the specific vitamins rather than the fortified food. Either option is fine, and neither is really superior to the other. Whatever your preference is, filling your nutritional gaps through supplementation is always preferable over being deficient. If you're unsure whether you are deficient or not, getting blood work done with your doctor is the best route to take. One thing to note, though: don't buy vitamins branded with "Beard" on them. They are not any better than the vitamins you can buy from reputable sources, and the claims that a lot of these companies make are misleading or entirely false. You'll be spending a premium on something you could get for much cheaper, that are reliably sourced. That's not to say that beard vitamins are not reliably sourced, but do your research. Supplements Unsurprisingly, there are some great supplements out there that can enhance your facial hair by boosting your T, DHT, and androgen sensitivity. A couple of my personal favorites are: Creatine — shown to increase DHT in trained athletes. L-Carnitine L-Tartrate — upregulates androgen receptor content. The two links above go to Androgrow's Glossary where you can learn more about specific vitamins and supplements that are out of the scope of this article. Along with some resistance training or HIIT, supplements can be helpful assets to both your workout quality and growing your androgen content. All of which help you grow the fullest beard that you can. Five: Minoxidil Minox-what? But isn't minoxidil for balding folk? It sure is. But it also isn't exclusive to treating alopecia. Men have been using minoxidil for many, many years in order to grow fuller facial hair. In fact, that's a side effect that has been seen in trials. There has also been a clinical trial in Thailand for beard enhancement using minoxidil. https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02275832 A common misconception about using minoxidil for beard growth is that the hair falls out once you stop using it. This is untrue if the hair becomes terminal. The reason this misconception is around is simply due to the fact that it's true for head hair. Once you've started balding, it is a life-long process and there is no way to reverse it. Minoxidil does not reverse balding — it simply forces hair into a state of anagen and maintains that hair by opening potassium channels and allowing nutrients to reach the follicle. In the case of facial hair, men are not balding there if they lack it; the follicles just haven't been activated and primed for growth. Once secondary hair reaches maturation, it is by and large permanent. To learn more about the process, check out these useful resources: The Guide to Growing Your Beard with Minoxidil on Beard Profile Minoxidil Beard FAQ on the Beard Wiki Concluding... All hope isn't lost for better facial hair when you utilize science. Like in many aspects of life, you must be consistent, you must continue learning and growing, and you must have patience. Things don't happen in just a day or a week. You should never expect anything that's worth it to come easy. As cliche as that line may be, it holds true more often than not. If rocking a beard is something you enjoy, work at it. It'll get better if you use all of the knowledge at your fingertips. Stay healthy and stay educated.
  6. Cemmos

    Starvation Mode — What Is It?

    What Is "Starvation Mode"? As a natural physiological and biochemical response to deep caloric restriction, your body will slow its metabolism in an attempt to keep you from dying. This essentially means slowing down the rate in which you burn calories, as well as making you feel lethargic to keep you from moving around too much. You'll also have a deeper yearning for food, since your brain is telling your body that you absolutely need to eat. Metabolic slowing with massive weight loss despite preservation of fat-free mass: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22535969 A more technical term for "starvation mode" is adaptive thermogenesis. Adaptive thermogenesis in humans: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3673773/ What starvation mode actually is and what a large amount of people think it is are two different things. What Starvation Mode Is Not What people think starvation mode is: This is very far from the truth, and it's very misleading to those that want to start a fat loss journey. Using the logic above, one might assume that they need to simply eat a little less than what they have been (despite never tracking how much they eat) and all is well. If they don't see their weight go down, they are officially in starvation mode and must eat more to compensate. It's a vicious, illogical cycle. Calories In vs. Calories Out One thing we must understand is one pure fact that never fails: expending more energy (calories) than we take in (eat) will result in fat loss. While adaptive thermogenesis indeed does slow down one's metabolism, it does not mean you will completely stop losing fat. If you weighed 260 lbs (118 kg) and lost 60 lbs (27 kg) over the course of a few months and noticed you're no longer losing fat: this does not mean your body is in starvation mode. What it means is that you need to adjust your calories again. What you ate during the first 60 lb loss was enough to keep you losing weight, but now you're 60 lbs lighter. Which means you require less calories to sustain the 200 lbs you're currently at than you did at 260 lbs. You can do that by expending more energy through working out, or eating less (or both). You Can Burn Calories Differently from One Day to the Next While calories in vs. calories out always remains true, there's some reasoning behind the fact that a person may be seeing slower weight loss than they previously were. BMR: Basal Metabolic Rate TEF: Thermic Effect of Food Physical activity (EAT and NEAT) As you're losing weight, these three things lessen as well, lowering your overall TEE. (Source) Changes in energy expenditure resulting from altered body weight: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7632212 Think about it this way: if you've already lost 30 lbs and only want to lose 15 more, you've already accomplished 66% of your goal. You have less weight to carry around when you're moving and exercising, and even sitting around (EAT and NEAT). You're eating less food due to your caloric restriction, so you also burn less through TEF. It only makes sense that the closer you get to your goal, the more difficult it will become. Metabolic Slowdown Is Unavoidable, But Can Be Mitigated Because of adaptive thermogenesis, metabolism is going to slow when you're losing weight. There are, however, some things you can do to help keep it in check and reduce your chances of losing muscle mass. Resistance Training Lifting weights has shown that people can keep catabolism of muscle down. Resistance training conserves fat-free mass and resting energy expenditure following weight loss: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18356845 In the study, the women that did resistance training kept their fat-free mass (FFM) and resting energy expenditure (REE, but essentially interchangeable with BMR (source)). Up Your Protein Intake Macronutrient ratios are always highly debated, but one thing that shouldn't be: if you want to lose less muscle during a cut or weight loss routine, increase your protein intake. High protein diets can help curb cravings and maintains your total energy expenditure. Postprandial thermogenesis is increased 100% on a high-protein, low-fat diet versus a high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet in healthy, young women: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11838888 Maintenance of energy expenditure on high-protein vs. high-carbohydrate diets at a constant body weight may prevent a positive energy balance: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25466951 Refeeding During Your Diet There are a lot of methods of refeeding. Some may recommend that you have a refeed day once every two weeks, some may recommend eating just above maintenance calories for a few days every few weeks. Whatever you choose to do, a refeed can be helpful to maintain both your state of mind and your hormonal balance As long as you don't turn refeeds into overindulgence, you'll still be on track with your weight loss journey. You may gain extra water weight or a pound or so, but the mental and physical benefits may very well outweigh the slightly prolonged journey. Concluding... Starvation mode isn't as dire as many people seem to make it out to be. It's real, but if you go into your weight loss with the knowledge above, you don't need to psyche yourself out and think you're stuck in a rut. Keep at it, keep consistent, and don't give up. We've got your back. P.S. Let's just called it adaptive thermogenesis, huh? The term "starvation mode" irks me. You're not starving, you're alright!
  7. Androgrow is offically... unofficially launched. Or something. We're considering it a pre-launch at the moment as we start to compile more content and knowledge for everyone. Join up early to become part of something awesome: a.ndro.co/JoinAndrogrow

  8. Cemmos


    Creatine is a highly scrutinized supplement and among the most popular used with both amateur and professional athletes. It's a molecule that is naturally produced in the body and aids our bodies by releasing energy during intense physical activity and stress. This causes us to gain additional strength after supplementation. Along with its cardio- and neuro-protective properties, creatine has a variety of health benefits. The most popular form, and the one recommended by most including Androgrow, is creatine monohydrate. Another popular form is creatine nitrate, which you may find touted as a superior version of creatine. This is untrue and you should be wary of these claims. There is no evidence to support that any other form of creatine is superior to its monohydrate version. While creatine is a vitamin-like compound, it's not considered a vitamin due to the fact that we produce it within our bodies. Another great benefit of creatine is that it increases dihydrotestosterone. Amount of Creatine to Take The common recommendation is to take 3-5 grams of creatine per day, everyday. Creatine Loading There is also no need to load creatine, as your muscles will become saturated over time while taking a maintenance dose. There is efficacy to the notion that you will get the benefits of creatine more quickly if you load it. As cheap as the supplement can be, it's not necessarily a waste to do so, nor should there be any harm in loading 15-25g per day for a week. A may accurate way of calculating your loading amount would be to take 0.3 grams per KG of body weight. Cycling and Kidney Problems Contrary to oldschool beliefs, there is no need to cycle creatine and it does not cause kidney problems. Even if taken in large amounts (20g and upward) by an individual with less-than-optimal kidney function, there is no damage. With that in mind, always consult your doctor if you are known to have kidney issues, or even if you're simply worried about supplementation of any kind. Water Retention Water retention from creatine is stored in skeletal muscle. There are people that will say creatine will make you bloat, which is not necessarily true. With proper intake, you should not have much, if any, subcutaneous water retention.
  9. Cemmos


    There are four common types of carnitine supplements: L-Carnitine Acetyl-L-Carnitine (ALCAR) L-Carnitine L-Tartrate (LCLT) and Propionyl-L-Carnitine (GPLC) ALCAR and LCLT are the most popular forms of L-carnitine, with the latter being recommended when attempting to increase androgen receptor activity and physical performance output. While ALCAR is commonly referred to as a fat burner, studies do not appear to be promising to that effect. Rather, ALCAR can be used as a stimulant, which then helps people become more active due to supplementation. ALCAR is effective at: Neurological decline Improving insulin sensitivity Chronic fatigue Cognitive enhancement How Much L-Carnitine to Take ALCAR is typically consumed in 600-2,500 mg doses on a daily basis. LCLT is typically consumed at higher daily doses, from 1,000-4,000 mg and should be taken with food.
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