THE MECCA GYM BLOG

Choices, Choices: We Review 5 of the Best Fitness Trackers on the Market for 2018

It didn’t take long for the two worlds of technology and personal fitness to collide. Thankfully, the last few years have made one thing clear: fitness trackers are not a passing fad. They are here to stay. With dozens of activity trackers on the market, it’s hard to know what to look for. The search becomes even more complicated when fitness trackers range in price from less than $50 to the hundreds of dollars. Some trackers are watches while others are dongles. Some have heart monitors while others do not. How can you decide? We’re here to help you wade through all of these choices. With 2018 coming up fast, we review seven of the best fitness trackers on the market for next year. Fitness Tracker Watches: Just a Part of the Fitness Journey Before jumping in, we want to issue a little reminder: an activity tracker should never determine your personal fitness goals. If you can’t take our word for it, how about from a Kardashian? “My fitness journey will be a lifelong journey.” ~ Khloe Kardashian Like Khloe says, personal fitness is not a one-time event or a yearlong project to be tracked. It is a lifelong process. Fitness trackers, like the Fitbit or Fitbit competitors, are [...]

2017-11-04T03:53:56+00:00 November 10th, 2017|Blog|Comments Off on Choices, Choices: We Review 5 of the Best Fitness Trackers on the Market for 2018

6 Clear Reasons Why Everyone Should Be Strength Training

The idea of incorporating strength training into daily exercise can seem intimidating to people. There are quite a few common misconceptions about what, exactly strength training is. “Body building isn’t for me – I don’t want to get buff!” “I’m a woman, weight lifting could be bad for me if I do it too much.” “I don’t want to pay for a weight gym - I spend most my time running anyway.” “I don’t need muscle strength to keep up on my regular workouts.” “Doesn’t resistance training take special equipment?” “Cardio is the healthiest exercise anyway.” Some of these statements are outright false, but others just don’t capture what strength training is all about. All of these misconceptions can unfortunately keep people from realizing how beneficial strength training can be. And, yes, it is beneficial for everyone. Definition: Strength training uses resistance to build muscle strength, increase endurance, and maintain flexibility. We are so convinced of this fact that we want to spend some time laying out clear reasons why everyone should be strength training. And we mean everyone. To start, strength training is not just for men – it’s great for women too! #1: Weight Lifting Can Help You Lose Weight Despite what the diet pill [...]

2017-11-04T03:35:26+00:00 November 4th, 2017|Strength Training|Comments Off on 6 Clear Reasons Why Everyone Should Be Strength Training

Branched Chain Amino Acids and Everything About Them

What Are Branched Chain Amino Acids? Branched chain amino acids are one of the biggest, most marketed supplements in today’s fitness industry, and are recommended by fitness and health professionals for good reason. Branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) are three different amino acids that have a certain molecular structure that separate them from the rest of the amino acids. The three amino acids that make up BCAAs are leucine, isoleucine, and valine and they come from different sources such as plants, whey, milk, and different meats. Again, BCAAs are said to be almost required by any avid gym goer, weightlifting athlete, and fitness and health professionals because of BCAAs role on metabolism and skeletal muscle, which we will get into in the next section. What Do BCAAs Do and Why Are They So Special? BCAAs play a major role in our body’s metabolism and building and preserving skeletal muscle. Specifically, BCAAs promote protein synthesis and turnover, different signaling pathways for energy and metabolism of glucose, and oxidation of fatty acids (Md. Monirujjaman, 2014). Leucine has a couple roles in our body, but mainly it is to help with oxidation and glucose uptake for energy, and is also what is called an “mTOR activator.” mTOR is a regulatory protein that takes care of different cellular [...]

2017-11-16T22:28:48+00:00 October 18th, 2017|Blog|Comments Off on Branched Chain Amino Acids and Everything About Them

Creatine 101

What Is Creatine? Creatine is a naturally occurring compound that is found in humans and most other vertebrates. Creatine’s primary role is to recycle adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which you may realize is the compound that drives muscular contraction in our bodies, but is also responsible for a couple of other roles in the body such as pH buffer in other tissues. Creatine is mostly produced in our bodies by the liver and kidneys at about a gram per day in younger adults (Brosnan JT, 2011), and can also be consumed through a diet consisting of red meat and fish like tuna and salmon. Most of the creatine in our bodies is stored in our skeletal muscle, where the remainder is distributed throughout the body by the blood. Creatine supplements used to receive a great number of myths when it first started to be used by a number of athletes, sprinters, and weightlifting athletes. In the last couple of decades, creatine has been thoroughly researched and studied and is also one of the most studied supplements in the world. A review done in 2009 took a large sample of studies and research done on creatine and its effects on “exercise heat tolerance and hydration status” and found “no evidence supports the concept that creatine supplementation [...]

2017-11-16T22:26:41+00:00 September 28th, 2017|Blog|Comments Off on Creatine 101

Glutamine: What Is It, What Does It Do, and Why Should You Use It?

What Is Glutamine? Glutamine is one of the 20 naturally occurring essential amino acids found in dietary proteins. It’s found in high levels in dietary meats, eggs, and both whey and casein protein, and is also the most abundant amino acid found in human muscle tissue and plasma. Glutamine in created in the body by breaking down certain non-essential amino acids and then binds with other nitrogen containing molecules, where it then shuttles nitrogen between different tissues in the body so that the body can grow and repair. About 70 percent of the body’s own glutamine production happens in the skeletal muscle where it will then travel to the most prominent sites of glutamine usage such as the small intestine, kidneys, and white blood cells. What Does Glutamine Do? Glutamine’s key role is in regulating protein synthesis and breakdown. Although glutamine does a load of other things as well, such as water transportation, glucose formation, and healthy immune function, but its role in protein synthesis and breakdown is the reason it has been supplemented by weightlifters, bodybuilders, and a large percentage of other athletes. Our kidneys are where a majority of the glutamine in our body is used in order to maintain the body’s proper acid-base balance. As the body’s acid level in the [...]

2017-11-16T22:22:25+00:00 September 25th, 2017|Blog|Comments Off on Glutamine: What Is It, What Does It Do, and Why Should You Use It?

Proper Caffeine Dosing for Sports Performance

What is Caffeine and How Does It Work? Caffeine is one of the most consumed natural pharmacologic agents. Whether you’re consuming it through coffee, tea, energy drinks, pre-workout supplements, or even just caffeine pills, caffeine tends to be everywhere. It’s so prevalent that 9 out of 10 men and women consume around 240mg every day. So many people consume and use caffeine that the International Olympic Committee actually removed caffeine from their banned substance list. So what is caffeine, specifically? Caffeine is a natural drug that is classified as a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant that can help keep us awake, alert, and keep going when you’re tired or ready to lay down. Caffeine is able to do this because it acts opposite to a CNS depressant that is found in our bodies, adenosine, and both caffeine and adenosine look very similar to each other. Adenosine promotes sleep and slows down nerve activity in our brains, and about every hour or so the levels of adenosine in the brain rise. With caffeine inhibiting adenosines ability to attach to their receptors in the brain, the pituitary gland observes this increased activity and then triggers the adrenal glands to produce epinephrine. This is why we feel more awake, and also why some people can suffer from [...]

2017-11-16T22:17:27+00:00 September 25th, 2017|Blog|Comments Off on Proper Caffeine Dosing for Sports Performance

The Ketogenic Diet

With the whole fitness and health field booming in the last couple of years, a lot of new information has come out, which is definitely a good thing, but big words and new information come with that making it a little overwhelming for a good portion of the general public. Ketosis has recently become a new tool to use so people can reach different health and fitness related goals. Specifically, ketosis is a metabolic state where the body’s energy comes from ketone bodies in the blood, instead of being in a state of glycolysis where blood glucose provides the usual energy for us. I’ll get a bit more into detail here in a minute and break down what all of that means. Ketosis is not to be confused with ketoacidosis which is basically an extreme state of ketosis. Ketoacidosis is usually related to type 1 diabetes where the liver breaks down fats and even proteins, as well as prolonged alcoholism. What is Ketosis and what is it used for? “Ketosis is a nutritional process that is characterized by blood serum concentrations of ketone bodies over 0.5mM, with low levels of insulin and blood glucose (Phinney, 2011).” Basically, this just means that there is an elevated level of ketones being produced in the body and [...]

2017-11-16T22:16:04+00:00 September 18th, 2017|Blog|Comments Off on The Ketogenic Diet

7 Sports Nutrition Facts and Myths Explained

In the world of nutrition and fitness, there are a lot of facts out there that get mistaken for myths. And even more myths that get mistaken for facts. As exercise and dietary professionals that are dedicated to helping each and every one of our clients reach their individual fitness goals, it’s important that we know the difference between sports nutrition facts and myths. And as someone interested in improving their body’s fitness and health, you owe it to yourself to know the difference as well. That’s why we’ve gathered up some of the most common sports nutrition facts and myths below. With this knowledge, you’ll be able to get fitter, healthier, and stronger even faster. 1. What is Sports Nutrition? In the most basic sense of the word, a sports nutritionist is a specialist dedicated to improving the health and performance of professional and amateur athletes as well as sports enthusiasts. They may offer meal plans, dietary advice, and even suggestions of which supplements to take, all in an effort to increase their physical fitness and boost their performance. As nutrition plays a key role in how your body heals itself from injury, they may also be instrumental in proper recovery as well. And [...]

2017-09-07T19:54:51+00:00 September 7th, 2017|Strength Training|Comments Off on 7 Sports Nutrition Facts and Myths Explained

Blood-flow Restriction Training

Blood Flow Restriction (BFR) training is a highly effective hypertrophy training method that dates back to the 1970’s. Originally developed as a rehab technique, its applications have since broadened into the fitness community. The following will be a brief summary of the history, effects, applications and efficacy of BFR training. Brief History In 1966 Yoshiaki Sato attended a traditional buddhist ceremony that required him to remain seated in a traditional cross-legged position for an extended period of time. The pressure from his legs upon his feet caused painful blood pooling in his calves. This experience sparked the idea that lead to moder BFR training. Over the next 7 years he experimented on himself with different types of straps and at varying pressures. With years of detailed trial and error, Sato gradually developed effective protocols to safely modify blood flow in his limbs. By 1973 Sato developed the details of KAATSU as it is currently practiced. Applications Today BFR training is used not only for training, but also rehab. During certain injuries we may find ourselves unable to train certain muscle groups. BFR training may be implemented to maintain muscle mass. The blood pooling within the muscle will encourage muscle cell swelling and consequently decrease atrophy. This can be done by doing isometric contractions of [...]

2017-11-16T22:06:19+00:00 August 14th, 2017|Blog, Strength Training|Comments Off on Blood-flow Restriction Training

Effects of Alcohol on Weight Loss and Muscle Recovery

While most people think that sticking to liquor and avoiding beer and sugary mixed drinks will help keep the weight off, this is not quite the case. Research considers the standard alcoholic drink to be around 15 grams of ethyl alcohol, which can be found in 5 ounces of wine, 1 ½ ounces of 40% liquor such as whiskey or vodka, and 12 ounces of beer. With every gram of alcohol comes about 7 calories as well, and with the standard drink being 15 grams of alcohol, every drink comes to around 105 calories. Unless drinking in moderation, alcohol can quickly add up and put someone into a caloric surplus. Along with the calories, alcohol has quite an effect on the thermic and oxidative properties of the human body. Since alcohol cannot be stored like macronutrients, alcohol is quickly broken down into two different by-products that the body deems to be dangerous and wants to get rid of as quickly as possible. Because of this, the body switches from using fats and carbohydrates as its main sources of energy, and starts using alcohol instead. This causes a significant reduction in the burning process of fat, as well as an increase in the conversion of carbohydrates into fats to be stored (Siler et al, 1999). [...]

2017-11-16T22:02:32+00:00 August 10th, 2017|Blog|Comments Off on Effects of Alcohol on Weight Loss and Muscle Recovery