Working out well

Working out well

Malcolm Liao grew from a skinny, bullied boy into a muscular, confident person in three months

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Fitness buff Malcolm Liao shows off his muscular physique.
Fitness buff Malcolm Liao shows off his muscular physique.
Photo: Edmond So/SCMP
Malcom Liao knows all about bullies. The 17-year-old was a skinny child who was often picked on for being scrawny. So he decided to do something about it.

Malcolm is going to his first year of university as a changed young man. In only three months he has transformed himself from a 55kg guy with average build into a muscular fitness buff weighing 75kg.

His confidence has grown along with his physique.

The aspiring rugby player with a passion for music embarked on a vigorous workout routine - and a diet supplemented by protein shakes.

He hired a personal trainer to help him through his workouts four times a week or more. His friends, meanwhile, helped him find out where he could buy the best protein supplements around town: before long, he had earned the nickname Protein Boy.

Throughout his transformation, he was inspired by comic-book superhero, Captain America, who undergoes a similar metamorphosis in the story.

Now with his confidence restored, Malcolm can't wait to join his university's rugby team.

Yet despite his success, he has a few words of caution to aspiring fitness buffs. It's not enough to rely only on health supplements; it's better to get the required protein, minerals and vitamins from a naturally healthy diet.

Adhering to a vigorous workout regimen also takes discipline. Once you get into shape, you want to stay in shape, too.

Tired muscles need plenty of good nutrition. Dietitians say you can absorb enough protein through a healthy daily diet. But supplements, such as whey protein isolates can help.

Wendy Ma, who is programme director of College of Life Sciences and Technology at HKU Space and an accredited dietitian, says whey protein isolate contains leucine, an important amino acid that stimulates muscle synthesis.

"Each [recommended] serving of whey protein contains approximately 3 grams of leucine," she says. "Two to three grams of leucine stimulate protein synthesis.

"But you can get 2 grams of leucine by consuming a bowl of cereals with 250ml milk and a carton of yoghurt. [If you have a healthy diet] it is not necessary to get extra protein through supplements. An excess of protein is of no benefit to the body, and may even be harmful."

However, for bodybuilders needing to replenish nutrients shortly after workouts, protein shakes can be a good and fast source of nutrients. "While protein powders may be useful for some, not everyone needs to take protein shakes for extra protein," Ma says. "Regular food is a much cheaper source of protein and often tastes better than the protein shakes."

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