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Nitrogen Balance in the Body and Muscle Growth

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The phenomenon that is dating is a somewhat fickle event even at the best of times. I am at the grand old age of 21 and still don't fully grasp the thing, however one thing I have learnt is that money and thought invested in the date is often a large determinant of the outcome. Please see my equation below:

Money x Thought = Outcome of date (i.e. another date)

This isn't to say you need to spend loads of money on the date, but it does mean if you don't spend a lot of money on the date proposed, by god it better be thoughtful. In essence the quality of the input (money and thought) will largely determine the outcome (another date) much like when you are trying to build muscle mass; the quality of protein put in your pie hole (Biological Value of the Protein) will largely determine the outcome (whether you build muscle or not.) As always permit me to elaborate and draw a comparison:

All macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates and fats) contain carbon, oxygen and hydrogen, but it is only protein that contains the additional molecule nitrogen. Thus by measuring the amount of nitrogen excreted from the body you can determine the amount of protein in the body and since 70% of protein in the body is found in the muscles, this can give a great indication of the body muscle building capability. This is known as the Nitrogen Balance of the body, and there are 3 basic types of Nitrogen balances in the body:

Positive: Optimal for muscle growth this is where the nitrogen intake is greater than nitrogen output (nitrogen intake > nitrogen output) i.e. Muscles are in an anabolic state

Negative: Greatly detrimental to muscle growth, this is where nitrogen intake is less than nitrogen output (nitrogen intake < nitrogen output) i.e. muscles are in a catabolic state.

Equilibrium: No gains are really made when you are in equilibrium, this is where the nitrogen intake is the same as nitrogen output (nitrogen intake = nitrogen output) i.e. your muscles don't progress or regress

Now there are a few factors that will determine whether you have a positive, negative or equilibrium nitrogen balance in the body but I wish to concentrate on the main 2, these being Rest and the quality of protein you consume.

Rest: This refers to the hours slept per day, rest from strength training and hours recovery after strength work out.

Quality of Protein: The quality of the protein is determined by fining out its Biological Value, this measures how well the body can absorb and utilize a protein. The higher the Biological Value of the protein you use, the more nitrogen your body can absorb, use, and retain. As a result, proteins with the highest BV promote the most lean muscle gains since they create a positive nitrogen balance within the body.

Lastly allow me to explain how the 2 factors (Rest and Quality of Protein) can result in the three possible nitrogen balances:

Positive: This is where you are consuming High Biological Value Protein (e.g. chicken, egg whites, beef, whey protein) and also having adequate rest from strength training. Therefore you've the necessary materials (High BV Protein) and invested adequate time into resting, for your muscles to repair and grow. This is very similar to what is considered a good date; enough money is invested so not to appear cheap (but not too much that you are considered flash) and ample thought has gone into the preparation, outcome: high chance of second date.

Equilibrium: This is where you are consuming High Biological Value Protein (e.g. chicken, egg whites, beef, whey protein) but perhaps you are not getting enough rest from strength training. Aliken this to a ringside seat date at a Cage Fight, perhaps a lot of money invested but unless your dates a big blood sports fan I'm thinking she is going to score you quite low on the ‘thoughtfulness' scale. Or perhaps you were ultra thoughtful and decided to take her to favourite ballet, but decided you didn't want to pay and so had her sneak in through the back entrance and watch the entire show hiding under the stairs from security.

Negative: This is where you are consuming Low Biological Value Protein (e.g. processed meats, luncheon meats...etc) and you are not getting enough rest from strength training. Often people are unaware they are in this state, believing all protein is the same or too enthusiastically training whilst depriving their body of rest. Similarly some men have taken their dates to what they believe to be a fantastic restaurant; service is very quick, seems very popular and great value for money getting a whole meal for 5..... but the reality is their female companion is less than impressed with her happy meal at MacDonald's.

By Ross Edgley Bachelor of Science Degree in Sports Science and Management from
All rights reserved. Any reproducing of this article must have the author name and all the links intact.

Author: Bachelor of Science Degree in Sports Science and Management from

Biography: Formerly an International Athlete Ross left competitive International Sport in 2004 to study for a Bachelor of Science Degree in Sports Science and Management at Loughborough University within the world renowned School of Sport and Exercise Science. 4 years later and after graduating in 2008 Ross is now the direct fitness advisor to the BBC, Cosmopolitan Magazine, The Daily Star, MSN, TV Nutrionist Gillian McKeith as well as many celebrities and models who he personally advises within a Private Practice on Harley Street.

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