Archive for the ‘Supplements’ Category

TEAM ALPHA Q & A with Eric B

Q. I hear mixed things about glutamine. Some say it works and others say it is a scientifically non-proven supplement. I trust your opinion Eric. What do you say?

A. I just want you to know that I truly appreciate that you trust me, and the info I put forth. Thank you.

Now…on to the question at hand. There are only a few supplements that I use 365 days per year. Those include a multivitamin/mineral, BCAA’s, and yes, glutamine! Glutamine has proven itself to me over and over again, with myself, and my personal training clients. Very often there is far more reliable evidence in the “real world” than what is seen in a laboratory. The reason that some people fail with glutamine is because they either expect to achieve immediate gains (yes, prohormones spoiled everyone while they were available), or they simply do not use it consistently enough, or in high enough amounts to get the desired effect. Another problem is that many trainees take L-glutamine along with protein, which pretty much assures that it will not be absorbed efficiently. L-glutamine needs to be taken on an empty stomach, about 30 minutes before each meal to be utilized properly. Now, it is true that the gastrointestinal tract is a “glutamine hog,” and will horde much of what you take for itself, which is why I said that you need to take a fairly large amount to reap the benefits. For most, this means 25-50 g per day. I strongly believe in glutamine’s immune system enhancing effects (can’t train when your sick, right?); its positive effects on protein synthesis; its ability to help with glycogen storage; it’s anti-catabolic effects; and it’s GH inducing abilities as well.

I take glutamine along with BCAA’s at least four times per day, and when dieting, up to 6-7 times per day. Each dose is no less than 5-10 grams.

Remember, just because you do not gain 10 lbs of muscle in two weeks does not mean glutamine is not working. Glutamine is what I call a “long haul” supplement. This simply means that over the long haul, it will certainly help hasten your progress. So be patient, and let glutamine work it’s magic a little at a time.

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Workout booster in a can

Looking for a way to enhance your workout? Try slamming an energy drink before hitting the gym, suggests a recent study published in the August issue of The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.

Since hitting the shelves, energy drinks have continued to grow in popularity. But who would have thought that drinking one right before your workout could actually help you gain more muscle mass, lose more fat, and enhance your cardiovascular fitness?

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Myth-Busting: Creatine and Dehydration

A mystery hit the small town of McMinnville, Oregon this month when two dozen of the town’s high school football players took ill after an intense “total immersion” training camp.  All had elevated levels of creatine kinase, an enzyme released by the muscles after extreme training.  Over a dozen were admitted to the hospital at least overnight, and three were suffering from a rare disorder known as anterior compartment syndrome that required surgery to relieve the pressure in their triceps.  The State’s Public Health Division announced an investigation to get to the bottom of it.

At a news conference, the superintendent of McMinnville Schools, Maryalice Russell, said that she doesn’t believe the cause was the type of workouts the players were doing during the preseason practice camp, although the players worked out in the high school’s wrestling room, where temperatures reportedly reached 115 degrees or more.  The media quickly began pointing at dietary supplementation with creatine products as a possible cause, even though not a single player claimed to have taken creatine.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Do Men and Women Need Sex-Specific Multivitamin Formulas?

In a word, no. For most of the basic vitamins and minerals, there aren’t major differences in the requirements for adult men vs. non-pregnant, adult women.

Given the large number of sex-specific multivitamin products out there, this may seem a bit strange… we’re so accustomed to advertisements, media reports and studies harping on the differences between the sexes, that it’s a little odd to think in terms of similarities.  But men and women are members of the same species, doncha know, so it shouldn’t be surprising to discover that their vitamin/mineral RDAs/AIs are roughly similar, too. See for yourself:

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Unique Fats

CNA (conjugated nonadecadienoic acid) is a 19 carbon, free fatty acid with a pair of conjugated double bonds.  Well that’s what the textbooks say anyhow. I can barely pronounce it.  But this fatty acid adds evidence to the notion that not all fats are created equally!  Interestingly, CNA’s effects are similar to a fat we all know and love, CLA or conjugated linoleic acid.  When fed to growing mice (0.3% of diet) CNA reduced body fat by 81% whereas CLA reduced body fat by 25%. Read the rest of this entry »

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What Role Do Fat Burners Play in a Fat Loss Program?

PillsIn general, the answer is “a small one.”

Surprised? I wouldn’t blame you if you are… after all, most “fat-burning” supplement ads are loaded with pictures of lean, beautiful people with flat/6-pack abs; upbeat testimonials from delighted customers who’ve painlessly shed double-digit pounds and inches; and breathless descriptions of the scientific evidence behind each “clinically proven” ingredient. Each supp is weight loss nirvana in a bottle, doncha know.

Problem is, those ads are carefully crafted to create a strong, positive emotional response, so that you don’t stop to think critically about the information or images you’re seeing.  For example, the beautiful people may not actually be product users at all – rather, their photos may have been purchased from a stock photo archive or they may be specially-photographed, “Photoshopped” models.

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Creatine Facts From Will Brink

Brinkzone logoWill Brink is one of the few fitness gurus I’ve encountered that has NO hidden agenda, and has consistently stood by his priniciples in a field where you can make a LOT of money bamboozling people.  Will’s “no-BS” reputation is well-earned – what you see/hear/read is what you get… and what you get is straight-up common sense and a whole lot of solid, practical information.

That includes information on creatine, which he’s studied for years.  Recently, Will produced a series of short vids on the subject that are worth viewing by anyone wanting to get the most out of taking this supp. Check ’em out below the fold.

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Free Trial? Be Sure to Read the Fine Print First!

Credit Card transactionInterest in dietary supplements is at an all time high, thanks to highly-publicized scientific research on nutrients and phytochemicals; and how they influence health and disease.  When searching for supps, the internet is an obvious source to turn to, since the variety is greater and it’s much easier to shop from the comfort of your home or office. Problem is, it’s also much easier to make snap judgements, that you may later come to regret.

While there are many reputable online supplement retailers, the market is a fertile one for less-than-ethical vendors looking to make a fast buck off naive consumers. When surfing the internet for weight loss, muscle-building and/or anti-aging supplements, it will pay you to be wary of claims that sound too good to be true, particularly when they’re presented along with seemingly innocent “free trial” offers. A free trial might look like a good deal, and sometimes it is… but more often than not, it’s a cleverly-disguised trap.

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ISSN Exercise & Sport Nutrition Review: Research & Recommendations

JISSN LogoI’m a bit late to the party, as this in-depth, JISSN review article was published back in February; but better late than never, I suppose.

Although the 43-page paper is a tad dry (as technical publications usually are),  it’s quite readable. It’s also quite revealing  – the authors’ (several of whom are members of  “Team True Alpha“) discussion of the research behind various muscle-building, weight loss and performance-enhancing supplements is very thorough. They divide supps into 4 basic categories:

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Are Protein Drinks Dangerous? A Postscript

Fortunately, I’m not the only science nerd in the family – my husband, John,  is a Senior Environmental Scientist with CH2M-HILL Plateau Remediation Company, and is quite knowledgeable about the human health risks associated with heavy metal contamination.  So when the Consumer Reports (CR) article on protein drinks came out (click here to read Rick’s take on it), I put him on the case.

He’s still on it, actually – but I thought I’d post an excerpt and link to the first installment on his blog, which is focused on arsenic.

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