Positive Nitrogen Balance

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  • Positive nitrogen balance happens when you take in more nitrogen from protein, (the only ingestible source of nitrogen for the body), than what you use to fuel your body.
  • Nitrogen balance is the most important issue in improving your fitness level, either through weight loss or lean muscle gain. If your body is in negative nitrogen balance, you don’t feel your best, aren’t seeing results in the gym, and your likelihood of having muscle injury or getting sick is increased.
  • Nitrogen is continually released by our bodies throughout the day through breathing, sweating, excretion, and pours out during exercise and stress (nitrogen holes).
  • While adding protein to diets normally is an important change, simply pouring protein into our body (or water into a pail), without simultaneously shrinking the hole, is very inefficient. Taking the right non-food fuel to help bind the nitrogen in your system and thereby help diminish the nitrogen hole we all normally have is equally important.

Positive nitrogen balance is a simple concept. It refers to you taking in more nitrogen and retaining more protein than what is being used as fuel on a daily basis. What you might not have realized is that positive nitrogen balance is the most important issue when it comes to improving your fitness level, either through weight loss or lean muscle gain. If you are not in positive nitrogen balance then it is nearly impossible to gain lean muscle mass, increase resting metabolism, consistently lose weight in a healthy manner or feel energetic in your normal daily activities. If you are in nitrogen equilibrium, no progress will be made. If you are in negative nitrogen balance you greatly increase the likelihood that you will have muscle injuries during exercise and become ill through your daily interaction with environmental pathogens.

Again, being in positive nitrogen balance is critical to everyone’s health and fitness. Now that you are aware of this key physiological attribute, you may be wondering how you insure that you are in positive nitrogen balance.

First, you have to be aware that nitrogen is released by the body, constantly, as the day wears on. Nitrogen is lost through normal tasks such as breathing, sweating, and excretion. Nitrogen pours out, obviously, during vigorous exercise whether cardio or resistance training. It is also lost more rapidly during periods of illness, injury, stress or impaired sleep. In a sense, we all have “nitrogen holes” in our bodies, similar to the pail analogy we used above.

Now that you learned how you lose nitrogen on a daily basis it is equally important to learn how to replace it. The only way that you take nitrogen in is through ingestion of protein.  Whether it is foods such as meats, dairy or vegetables or good protein enriched powders or bars, the protein you intake is about 16.7 percent nitrogen.

Going back to our garden pail analogy, we all have a nitrogen hole in our body. If you are not feeling fantastic during exercise or if you have been working out for a few weeks or more and haven’t seen real, consistent positive change, chances are that you are in negative nitrogen balance. That means you are losing more nitrogen daily than you are gaining through the ingestion of good protein. To reverse that and be in positive nitrogen balance, we advocate eating the proper amount of protein daily and supplementing additional protein when you cannot eat your required minimum. And taking the right non-food fuel to help bind the nitrogen in your system and thereby help diminish the nitrogen hole we all normally have that hinders optimal fitness results.

While adding protein to diets normally is an important change, simply pouring protein into our body (or water into a pail), without simultaneously diminishing the hole, is very inefficient.

Today, we wanted to teach you about nitrogen balance and give you a short time to decide whether you are improving your fitness level as much as you would like.