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The Muscle That Matters The Most

2016/8/26      view:

You might be fit, but are you doing the right things to protect your heart? Learn what diet and exercise trends might be too extreme for your heart.


The downfall is that prepackaged foods like these often contain trans fats. Trans fats can increase LDL and decrease HDL levels, which is exactly what you don't want for healthy cholesterol levels. Too much trans fat in your diet is also associated with an increased risk for type 2 diabetes and whole-body inflammation. [3,4]

Although not everyone who follows IIFYM will include an unhealthy amount of prepackaged snacks or foods with trans fat in their diet, it's never a bad idea to remember that the quality of your food matters. If you want your body to be healthy on the inside, you may need to think beyond the number of carbs, fat, and protein you eat each day.

High-Fat/High-Protein Diets

Other trending diets may contain nutrients that your body is not able to process in large quantities. High-fat, high-protein diets may cause issues for those who are not about to burn large amounts of fat.

"If your body is tuned to burn lots of fats, you will probably be OK," says Dr. Nelson. "However, if your body is not adapted to using them, you may run into issues. We know that studies related to blood flow after a high-fat meal show acute issues, especially in those who are overweight." It appears that an elevated concentration of free fatty acids may reduce the production of nitric oxide, increasing the incidence of hypertension.[5] If you're considering adopting a high-fat diet, remember that not all dietary fats are created equal, just like not all bodies use dietary fats in the same way.


In general, those who are active and fit may use a high-fat, high-protein diet, such as low-carb or ketogenic diets, with more success than inactive people. "In a classic study, active and inactive subjects were fed a McDonald's breakfast meal consisting of an Egg McMuffin with sausage and hash browns.[6] Following the high-fat meal, researchers measured flow-mediated dilation and found that it decreased by almost ten percent in the inactive group," notes Dr. Nelson. Over time, this could increase a person's risk for atherosclerosis. These findings support the concept that habitual physical activity can reduce the negative alterations from a high-fat meal on cardiovascular health.

The physical fitness of an individual may have something to do with how well specific diets work. But maintaining balance in your diet and eating all nutrients in moderation (including alcohol) is always the best option. Dr. Nelson concludes, "While fat in moderation is not the evil it was made out to be for many years, mainlining fats is not exactly ideal for your cardiac health."

Contest Prep

Although the bodybuilding community may look really healthy, extreme dieting can cause problems. Dr. Spencer Nadolsky, a bodybuilder turned triathlete, osteopathic family physician, and reviewer for Examine.com knows how tough contest preparation can be on the body.

"Very low-carb/high-saturated-fat diets can sometimes negatively affect heart health," he says. "Folks who follow those types of diets can have irregular cholesterol levels. Their cholesterol levels—most importantly their non-HDL cholesterol, ApoB, and LDL particle levels—get to levels seen in people who can have premature atherosclerosis. This doesn't happen in everyone who does this diet, but it's something to be aware of."