Similarly to Chlorella, Spirulina is a blue green algae that thrives well in warm and alkaline fresh waters. Spirulina is neither a new nor is it a trendy supplement that is yet to fade soon in its popularity. Spirulina dates back to the 16th century, where Aztecs regularly consumed it as their source of food. Spirulina is best known for its detoxifying and provision of high quality plant based source of protein.
Spirulina greatly gives a tasteful roasted and nutty sea-hint reminiscent taste when added to smoothies, juices and various culinary dishes. Spirulina is a great vegetarian source of protein. Very few vegetarian people think of spirulina as a vegan source. They often consider sources of plant based protein to be seeds, nuts, soy, peas and beans, however we are going to highlight some of our favorite recipes of spirulina. Depending on its variety, Spirulina is chiefly a complete protein (it contains 65 to 70% of all the essential amino acids).The abundance of protein in spirulina is incredible in comparison to other protein source such as lentils (25%) and beef (22 % ).
Always flavor your smoothies with ground vanilla bean, cinnamon, raw honey, nutmeg, cloves, almond butter, cayenne pepper, ginger or just about any seeds or chopped nuts combination. The secret behind blending the perfect spirulina smoothie is using sweet fruits or nuts or seeds to give your drink a unique taste.
Spirulina and Protein in Our Bodies
The protein comprises a chain of amino acids that are essential for our bodies in the cultivation of hair, nails, skins, muscles and internal organs. Nutritionists advise that if you are training or exercising to achieve a lean body and perfect muscle building, then it is necessary to consume at least one gram of protein per half a kilogram, of your body weight daily. Protein makes 20 % of the human body, thus it is not only used for muscle building but also to maintain the body’s immune system and synthesis of DNA. Whenever you consume protein, it is broken down into amino acids, which are the building blocks of our bodies. Thus, protein rebuilds and repairs every cell of our bodies.
Unlike fats, proteins are not readily stored in our bodies, thus it needs regular consumptions throughout the day. Quite often in many foods such as meat, milk and beans, the proteins are not easily absorbed, thus this is where spirulina would come as an easy supplement for proteins for most athletes. With over 65% of the total protein weight as compared to only 22% of beef, this natural sea vegetable superfood offers a plant-based protein that is easily digested and rapidly assimilated and absorbed into the human body. Its proteins are biologically complete, meaning that they provide all the essential amino acids, that is, Leucine, Lysine, Isoleucine, Phenylalanine, Methionine, Tryptophane, Threonine and valine in the right proportions.Besides that, Spirulina also has ten of the total non-essential amino acids.
Athletes and bodybuilders need to ingest food that is dense in nutrients, specifically proteins to perform at their best and maximum potential. Spirulina provides a clean energy due to its high chlorophyll content, extends speeds and endurance and increases the stamina during exercises as well as the mental agility.It also contains high doses of vitamins, mineral, antioxidants and natural forms of polyphenols, easily available and digestible for the human body thus helps prevent diseases, reduces blood pressures, stops feelings of hunger, reduces the blood cholesterol, helps in weight loss, improves digestions, balances the blood sugar levels, removes toxins and much more other functions. Spirulina is also highly alkaline hence it helps regulate an athlete’s internal body Ph.
Spirulina is easily digestible, believe it or not, thirty minutes after ingestion, it is already absorbed into the body. Why is it so?
Spirulina is a single-celled organism, meaning that its cell walls are made up of soft fibers, thus its amazingly high digestibility rate.
Spirulina and Physical Workouts and Exercises
During sessions of intense training most athletes experience an anemic deficit of iron, with much more clinical symptoms such as muscle fatigue and exhaustion. Spirulina is highly rich in bioavailable iron. In a study done by Moorhead K et.al on Spirulina nutrition, Spirulina has 2300% more iron than spinach. Thus daily consumption of a few grams of spirulina significantly decreases and eradicates the iron deficit symptoms eventually increasing the optimal physical activity eventually leading to more muscle gains.
A study on the effects of supplementation of Spirulina on various athletes showed that spirulina induced significant increments in fat oxidation and exercise performance. Athletes felt much more bouncy, less fatigue after the performance of physical load, improved sleep quality, and the recuperation processes much faster with much more endurance while performing various exercises. Healing and repairing of the body and muscle cells and tissues help to build it up more. Consumption of Spirulina increases the levels of the Myosin, the contractile protein thus increasing the synthesis of the muscle protein.
Another research conducted on athletes showed that the time of fatigue after a two-hour run was significantly reduced after supplementation of the spirulina in comparison to a placebo.
Ingestion of spirulina increased the rate of fat oxidation over 10 percent. Intense exercises often produce excessive free radicals and this excessive free radical causes damages of tissue cells. Spirulina works by restoring, rejuvenating and build up the muscles due to its antioxidant properties. The high content of antioxidants is responsible for fighting oxidative stress and reduces oxidation. This is attributed to the chlorophyll, carotenoids, beta-carotene, phycocyanin, xanthophylls and superoxide Dismutase antioxidants pigments. Specifically, C-phycocyanin demonstrated an anti-inflammatory, hepatoprotective and neuroprotective effects which were quite beneficial for the athletes by fighting off the free radicals by inhibiting the productions of the inflammatory signals molecules.
Spirulina is also nitrogen based thus it helps an athlete’s body get more nitric oxide that allows more oxygen and blood to get into the bodies, muscles and brain cells and tissues. Its alkalinity and high iron and chlorophyll content profile help brings oxygen to our cells easily such that you won’t easily suffer from muscle soreness due to excessive lactic acid productions after an intense exercise period, thus helping you build more muscles instead of damaging it.
Consumption of Spirulina after your workouts will help you burn more fats, get toned faster, making you achieve a strong, slim and lean perfect body. This is because its high content of amino acids, the building blocks of muscle building, which are important and crucial in reducing soreness and repairing of any muscle and tissues damages. Consumption of spirulina after exercises will not only get protein easily absorbed into the body, but it will also help you cut hunger and suppress appetite, thus helping you lose weight as well. Always supplement your diet with Spirulina since it is nature’s form of whole food supplementation, which will enrich your body with adequate and balanced nutrients at the right proportions.
The standard dose of spirulina should be at least four to six 500mg of tablets daily. However for muscle performance and synthesis you might increase your dosage up to eight to ten tablets, that’s equivalent to 5grams of Spirulina. Spirulina has been proven to be non-toxic for normal human consumption if they are from a natural source of water that is free toxins and waste materials. Thus, ensure that you buy spirulina from a reputable health and food store. Always consult your doctor before consumption of any spirulina, just in case you might have an allergic reaction or any existing autoimmune disease.
We wish you the best in your body and muscle building exercises! Do remember to supplement your diet with Spirulina to achieve your goals easily and faster!
Workouts make the protein in the muscle to break down and build up at a faster rate than it normally does in ordinary situations by the protein synthesis. Synthesis of protein is the process by which the human body takes dietary protein and converts it to muscle tissues. Protein is essential towards cutting and bulking during muscle building. Inadequate intake of protein, would result in a catabolic state, whereby the body breaks down its muscle to meet the body protein requirements. Thus, for those planning to gain more muscle and bulk up, stay away from inadequate protein intake. A combination of a rich high-quality protein diet and an immense strength training program is the best non-pharmaceutical way of gaining more muscles. Always distribute protein intake evenly in every meal to turn more protein into muscles.
Different foods contain different combinations of the amino acids hence it’s necessary to have different types of protein sources. However, leucine is the most significant of the 20 essential amino acids for the creation of muscle tissues. It takes almost 2 to 3 grams of leucine to create a positive anabolic effect from each meal. Spirulina contains this amino acid and each scoop would give you almost 3 grams of leucine.
We recommend that you supplement your diet with Spirulina, to get maximum results for any post and pre-work diet. It provides the necessary protein that is easily assimilated and absorbed into the body. Spirulina ensures that you overflow your body with adequate protein so that your body doesn’t break up so hard on your already earned muscle for more energy needs.
The ideal time to take Spirulina would be before and after your work out sessions since it’s a quick dissolving source of protein that runs through an athlete’s body within an hour. Another ideal time to consume Spirulina would be right after you wake up. The human body is in a catabolic state whenever we sleep, we don’t eat while sleeping, yet the body has ongoing functions even when we rest. Consuming spirulina before workouts, makes sure that your body has adequate building blocks to gain more muscles and by consuming after, you ensure that your body has adequate building blocks needed to repair the damaged tissues and cells of the muscles.
Necessary Pillars for adequate nutrition for muscle building
We have outlined some of the best recipes that involve supplementation of Spirulina. However, you can always feel free to alter the diet depending on your preferences and choices.
A Pre Work out Spirulina Diet Recipe
Spirulina Green Smoothie (400 calories, 50gms Protein)
Blend two scoops of spirulina powder with a handful of spinach, one small banana and a cup of water. You can substitute water for a cup of milk.
Spirulina Protein Shake (430 calories, 65gms Protein)
Blend two scoops of spirulina powder with 1 cup of Vanilla soy milk, and one medium Apple.
Spirulina –Orange Juice (40gms Protein, 350 calories)
A scoop of Spirulina powder mixed into a cup of blended 100 %orange
Post Work out Spirulina Diet Recipe
The timing of the post work out meal is really vital and you need to consume this meal at least 60 to 90 minutes after the workout session. Substitute high protein intake with 30 to 50grmas of Protein spirulina shake as soon as you are done.
The Spirulina Postworkout Shake (550 calories, 50gms Protein)
Two scoops of Spirulina Powder, mixed with 25grmas of dextrose and a glass of water.
You can add the spirulina powder into your mixed green salad.
The Papaya Shake (400 calories, 30gms Protein)
Add a scoop of spirulina to the papaya juice. You can add an ice cube if you desire a cold shake.
Spirulina Juice (30gms Protein, 25Kcalories)
You can consume one scoop of spirulina in a glass of water before bedtime.
The Ideal Juice
You can get a scoop of spirulina powder to a glass of freshly squeezed pineapple or watermelon juice depending on your ideal choice.
Spirulina supplements are a convenient and easy way to ensure that your body is highly primed and prepared with the necessary muscle building nutrients to maximize fully on muscle gain from work out sessions.
Note: Maturity of muscle only happens by weightlifting and maintenance of good nutrition over a significant period. The more and longer you train the more your muscle will improve regarding its proportion shape, vascularity and fullness which are good at the creation of an illusion of a larger muscle mass. For any athlete or person targeting muscle growth and fat loss, then carbohydrate and calorie cycling are appropriate. This will allow times for a loss of fat and times for muscle growth. Muscle growth requires you to be in an anabolic state and a surplus of calories.
Use of Spirulina is an exceptional means of supporting healthier fertility, pregnancy, and lactation. This is as a result of its higher nutritional and dietetic components. Spirulina is a cyanobacterium, usually termed as blue greenish algae. Dillon, J. C. et al., in 1995, admits to proteins present in Spirulina is regarded as of the utmost quality compared to all plants and animal proteins. This is also inclusive of those of the legume family such as soy and peas. Besides that, it is an excellent source of minerals and vitamins. Its high nutritive value proves to be excellent in sustaining fertility and pregnancies for all women. Thus expectant mothers should not shy away from using Spirulina in maintaining and improving their health status.
Health Benefits of Spirulina in Pregnant Women
According to Khan, Z., et al. (2005) article on Nutritional and the Therapeutic Potentials of Spirulina, Spirulina is an unlimited source of protein, as it has all the essential amino acids. The total content of protein is 50 to 70% of the total dry weight. Interestingly, it contains the highest content of protein when harvested at early daylight. Besides that, it provides a broad range of minerals and vitamins that are quickly absorbed by the human body. Thus it is the easiest means of boosting your daily intake of nutrients.
It contains the following:
Vitamins: Thiamin, A, D, E, K, Niacin, Riboflavin, B12, B6, Pantothenic Acid, and Folate.
Minerals: Calcium, Potassium, Zinc, Magnesium, Iron, Selenium, Phosphorus, and Copper and relatively low content of Sodium because it grows in fresh waters.
Many minerals and vitamins in Spirulina act as antioxidants. Thus protecting the body from free radical damages. Oxidative damages, as a result of the free radicals, are revealed in contributing to lowered immunity and overall health of a person.
Research conducted in Mexico proposes that Spirulina is useful in the treatment of preeclampsia in pregnant women. Moreso, Spirulina prevents the occurrence of it all, perhaps, due to its high content of nutrients. An article, Spriluna for Prevention and Control of Preeclampsia (Mark F. McCartys et al., 2009), explains that preeclampsia is linked with elevated oxidative stresses in the vascular system and placenta of the woman often attributed to poor nutrition. NADPH oxidase is suggested as the leading source of oxidant stress often linked with preeclampsia. Spirulina contains the Phycocyanobilin (PCB) which inhibits the NADPH. Thus this helps protect expectant mothers and fetus from preeclampsia.
Are There Any Negative Effects Of Spirulina On Pregnant And Lactating Women?
Research by Kulshreshthas, A. et al., (2008) on the health care management of Spirulina suggests that it is not safe for consumption by persons with an underlying medical complication such as Sclerosis, Lupus, Phenylketonuria metabolic condition rheumatoid arthritis. This is because Spirulina is known to increase the effects of these diseases. So it is important to check with your physician before consuming Spirulina.
Is It Safe To Consume Spirulina During Breastfeeding?
Your baby gets all necessary nutrients from your breast milk. Thus it is essential that you ensure to have a nutrient rich and healthy diet. Therefore, in this context, a super food such as Spirulina will absolutely help any nursing mother. But is it really safe? Well, Spirulina is only safe provided that you purchase the high quality that is organic and toxic free. The safety of the product depends on the source and the way it is harvested. So you need to ask yourself if you really trust the brand in providing a non-toxic product or if you are convinced 100 percent of the source.
Although Spirulina is highly a primary health booster, we urge lactating mothers to take preliminary precautions during consumption. This is because you can never be so sure of the source of Spirulina. Many products in the market brand themselves as chemical free and organic. However, none of us has the time to carry out a lab test to whether the claims are valid or not. Unlike other vegetables, we barely wash Spirulina before consumption. While under some situations, we can be okay to use Spirulina mainly under recommendation. So why take risks when you are breastfeeding? There is absolutely an increased risk of passing toxins to your child. Unlike you, the baby’s body hardly has developed strong mechanisms of defense. So fighting off toxins is hard since their immunity is still developing.
How Can Spirulina Help You During Breastfeeding?
Most new mothers are anemic due to excessive blood loss during childbirth. Spirulina is a significant source of bioavailable iron without necessarily constipating the mother. Besides that, Spirulina aids to speed up the loss of body fat. The algae help in the detoxification of the body and boosting the mothers’ overall body immunity and health.
Recommended Daily Intake
There is no certified recommendation and rules for consumption of Spirulina. This is, perhaps, due to the limited scope of research and studies. Nevertheless, general consensus suggests that 3000mg daily intake is quite safe. It is however very significant to consult your physician if you desire to use Spirulina supplements. Let he or she make an appropriate recommendation regarding your nutritional needs.
Chamorros, G., Salazars, S., Favilas-Castillos, L., Steeles, C., & Salazars, M. (1997). The Reproductive and peris-and postnatal evaluations of Spirulina maximas in the mice. Journals of the Applied Phycology, 8(2), 107 – 112.
Dillon, J. C., Phucs, A. P., & Dubacq, J, P. (1995). The Nutritional Values of Spirulina. The Worlds Reviews of Nutritions and Dietetics, 78, 32 – 45.
Kapoor, R., & Mehta, U. (1993). Effects of supplementations of blue, green algae (Spirulina) on the outcomes of pregnancies in mice. Plant Foods for Human Nutritions, Formerly Qualitas Plantarum, 43(1), 29 – 35.
Khan, Z., Bhadourias, P., & Bisens, P. S. (2005). The Nutritional and Therapeutic Potentials of the Spirulina. The Current Pharmaceuticals Biotechnology, 6(6), 372 – 378.
Kulshreshthas, A., Jarouliyas, U., Bhadauriyas, P., Prasads, G.B., & Bisens, P. S. (2008). Spirulina in the health cares managements. The Current Pharmaceuticals Biotechnology, 8(5), 401 – 406.
McCartys, M. F., Barosso-Arandas, J., Contreras, F. (2009). Spirulina for Prevention and Control of Preeclampsia. Oasis of Hope Hospital, Tijuana, Mexico.
Author: Dr. Ellian (Nutritionist)