Glossary of Relevant Terms - cont...

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On MuscleTalk there are a number of complex words, scientific terms and jargon and acronyms used in reference to bodybuilding, health and fitness. This section will help you define and understand the main ones. It is by no means finite and more will be added. If you have any words / terms you'd like explaining then please suggest them...

For information about technical terms relating to muscle and bone, see here.

Natural: (1) Nutrition: Foods or supplements that are not highly refined and which do not contain artificial flavours or colours. The word 'natural' has no legal definition in food supplementation.

Natural: (2) Pharmacology: Gym jargon for athletes who have not used anabolic steroids or other banned ergogenic aids for a particular period of time.

Neurotransmitter: A substance released at the end of nerve cells when a nerve impulse arrives there. Neurotransmitters diffuse across the gap to the next nerve cell and alter the membrane of that cell in such a way that it becomes less or more likely to fire. Examples include adrenaline and serotonin. Adrenaline is responsible for the 'fight or flight' response and is an excitatory neurotransmitter; serotonin is the opposite-it makes you sleepy.

Nitrogen Balance: Refers to a person's daily intake of nitrogen from protein equals the daily excretion of nitrogen. A negative nitrogen balance occurs when the excretion of nitrogen exceeds the daily intake and is often seen when muscle is being lost. A positive nitrogen balance is often associated with muscle growth.

Nitrogen: This is an element that distinguishes proteins from other substances and allows them to form various structural units in our bodies.

Nutraceuticals: See functional foods

Nutrient: Components of food that help nourish the body, i.e. provide energy or serve as building materials. Include carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, minerals, water, etc.

Nutrition: The study of food and its chemical components.

Off-The-Shelf (OTS): Refers to substances that do not require a prescription to be attained legally, nor need they be requested in a pharmacy.

Oligopeptide: Peptide chain of a few amino acids in length.

Oligosaccharide: Carbohydrate chain of a few simple sugars in length.

Omega-3 (n-3) Fatty Acids: A type of polyunsaturated fatty acid; the '3' designates where the first double bond is located in the fatty acid carbon chain. These are abundant in fish oils; e.g. linolenic acid.

Omega-6 (n-6) Fatty Acids: A type of polyunsaturated fatty acid, the '6' refers to the first double-bond on a fatty acid chain which is located at the sixth carbon acid. For example linoleic acid.

One Rep Max (1RM): Your absolute strength in a given moment. Power lifting competitions are a test of 1RM strength. For many bodybuilders, especially beginners, 1RM training is harmful because of the higher risk of injury. A weight that you can just complete in 10 reps is a good approximation for most people of 75% of their 1 RM.

Optimal Nutrition: Means 'best possible nutrition'. Distinct from adequate nutrition, this term describes people free from marginal deficiencies, and who are not at risk for such, and sufficient amounts of nutrients and anutrients to reduce risk of disease and maximise performance.

Over-The-Counter (OTC): Refers to substances that do not require a prescription to be attained legally, but must be requested in a pharmacy, who will provide instructions on usage.

Oxidation: The addition of oxygen to compound, primarily taking place in mitochondria where substances are fully combusted. It is the process of cellular decomposition and breakdown.

Oxygen Debt: Deficiency of oxygen in working muscles when performing exercise that is so demanding the cardiovascular system cannot deliver oxygen fast enough to the muscles to support aerobic metabolism. The debt must be repaid by rapid breathing after the activity slows down or stops. Oxygen debt leads to anaerobic metabolism, which leads to lactic acid build up and muscle fatigue. It is when you are out of breath.

Pathogenic: Potential to cause a disease or disorder and its related signs and symptoms.

Peak: As a bodybuilder prepares for a contest, he/she cuts body fat to an unusually low level to bring out maximum muscularity that can be maintained for only a short time, usually only a few days.

Peptide: A compound made up of two or more amino acids. Protein molecules are broken down into peptides in the gut and absorbed in that form.

Performance: In respect of sport refers to the capacity to perform work in relation to that specific activity, includes time, speed, intensity, distance, etc.

Periodization: Also called Cycle Training, a predetermined approach to strength and muscle building in which bodybuilders train light for several weeks, then heavier, and then really heavy, and the process is cycled. Aids burnout and avoiding injury.

Physiological: Pertaining to all the functions of an animal or man.

Phytochemical: Means 'plant chemical', and used to refer to a broad spectrum of bioactive plant compounds which may have some health benefits.

Pineal Gland: An endocrine gland that functions mainly in the secretion of melatonin and a few other hormones.

Placebo Effect: Refers to when people use a substance believing it works, thereby it does (or is believed to) produce the desired effect.

Placebo: A harmless, inactive substance which may be given in the place of an effective drug or substance, especially to control groups in clinical studies, to test if the drug or compound in question is effective.

Polypeptides: Proteins formed by the union of many amino acids.

Polysaccharides: Carbohydrates containing a large number of sugars. Starch, glycogen, multidextrose, and cellulose are examples.

Polyunsaturated Fats: These contain more than one open spot on the chain length. As a percentage of total fat intake these may be beneficial, and include sunflower and soya oil as good sources.

Polyuria: Excessively large production of urine, meaning that you need to go to the toilet more than usual.

PPWO: This stands for post post workout and refers to second nutritional intake after working out.

Prebiotics: These are certain nutrients and constituents of food that our gut flora feed on, promoting growth of 'good' bacterial colonies in our gut, leading to an increase in their numbers. Prebiotics include fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS) and some other soluble fibres found in pulses, fruit and some cereal products.

Precursors: Compounds from which another compound is formed. For example, the hormone androstenedione is a direct precursor to testosterone production in the body.

Probiotics: These are live strains of 'good' bacteria, e.g. bifidus and acidopilus. The bacteria are cultured in live yoghurts, powders or specially formulated probiotic drinks which contain one or more of these strains.

Progressive Overload: Gradually adding more resistance during strength training exercises as your strength increases.

Pro-Hormones: Chemicals that are direct precursors to hormone production. For example DHEA is a pro-hormones to testosterone.

Prostaglandins: Chemicals produced in the body which exhibit a wide range of actions on things like blood pressure, water balance, immune system reactions, inflammation, etc.

Protein Digestibility-Corrected Amino Acid Scoring (PDCAAS): A highly accurate method of assessing protein quality, taking into account the profile of essential amino acids of the protein in question, as well as its digestibility in humans, rather than in rats. It is the method of assessing protein quality adopted by the World Health Organisation / Food and Agriculture Organisation (WHO/FAO) and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Protein Efficiency Ratio (PER): A measure of protein quality assessed by determining how well a given protein supports weight gain in laboratory animals: namely, rats.

Proteins: Nitrogen-containing compounds found in all animal and vegetable tissues. They are made up of amino acids and are essential for growth and repair in the body. One gram of protein contains four calories.

Psychological: Pertaining to the mind and thought process.

Pump: The look and feeling a bodybuilder experiences when his/her muscles engorge with blood and tissue fluid as the result of intense exercise.

Pure: Used to refer to supplements that are unaltered; i.e. have no other ingredient in them except that which is stated on the label.

PWO: This stands for post workout and refers to post workout nutrition. This will generally consist of protein and simple carbs for recovery and repair e.g. whey, water and glucose.

Rep: A single concentric and eccentric movement of an exercise e.g. one bicep curl.

RHR: This stands for resting heart rate. The best time to find out your resting heart rate is in the morning, after a good night's sleep, and before you get out of bed. Typical RHR among the untrained is between 60 and 80 beats per minute.

Ripped: A condition of extremely low body fat with superior muscle separation and vascularity. Variations include sliced, cut and striated.

RMR: See Basal Metabolic Rate