Steroids May Help Treat Many Diseases

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What are Steroids?

Steroids are a colloquial term for anabolic-androgenic steroids. They are also known as roids, gear, juice, vets’ drugs, and Caseys. They are pharmaceutical substances that can be produced naturally or artificially to mimic the effects of testosterone and testosterone derivatives. Steroids are notoriously known among athletes, bodybuilders, and even the general population for their physique and performance boosting properties, along with a whole myriad of dangerous side effects.

Why Use Steroids?

Steroids are widely used in the medical industry to treat a whole range of diseases. These include cancer, AIDS, growth disorders, as well as providing hormone replacement therapy for the elderly. In these cases, the use of steroids are prescribed and carefully administered by doctors and health care professionals who are well trained in medicine and physiology. However, steroids are also sometimes abused by individuals wishing to improve their physique, strength, and/or perform better at sport. In these cases, steroid use is often not under the supervision of a qualified professional. This can then lead to serious side effects.

Steroid Side Effects

Under no circumstance is steroid use ever endorsed by a medical professional, unless an individual has a legitimate medical condition. In fact, the only individuals that promote steroid usage are those who can profit from their sales. This is because there are very serious and life threatening side effects associated with steroid abuse. These include:

  • Increases of bad LDL cholesterol and decreases of good HDL cholesterol (Garevik et al, 2012), which are risk factors for heart disease.
  • Elevations in blood pressure (Grace et al, 2003), again a risk factor for heart disease and also kidney disease.
  • Decreased glucose tolerance levels (Brower et al 1991), which is a risk factor for diabetes.
  • Enlargement of the left heart ventricle (De Piccoli et al, 1991), which may lead to heart attacks.
  • Excessive acne (Melnik et al, 2007)
  • Accelerating balding (Brower et al 1991)
  • Liver damage (Kicman & Gower, 2003)
  • Reduced testes size and infertility (Matsumoto, 1990)
  • Development of permanent male-like features among women (Kuhn, 2002)
  • Gynecomastia (or man boobs) in men (Brower et al 1991)
  • Stunted growth in children (Irving et al, 2002)
  • Development of male features in unborn females and the development of female features in unborn males (Manikkam et al, 2004).
  • Increased aggression or “roid rage” (Perry et al, 2003) and personality disorders (Pope et al, 2000)
  • Addiction and withdrawal symptoms (Trenton & Currier, 2005)

This massive list of side effects is not simply a fear mongering tactic employed by the media. They are well documented and scientifically reported side effects associated with steroid use. This is why steroids should only be used for legitimate medical conditions and under the supervision of a health care professional. Some argue that these side effects only occur with high dose use over a long period of time. However, it has been found that some of these symptoms such as increased cholesterol can occur with a single dose (Garevik et al, 2012). Furthermore, the positive effects of steroids are only maintained for as long as they are used, which leads to long term usage, and eventually, the possible manifestation of the above mentioned side effects. Many users often start with low doses. However, after they see results, start to increases the doses, and therefore increasing the severity of side effects.

Steroid Legal Status

In countries such as Australia, the USA, and UK, steroids are considered to be controlled drugs or substances. According to the Australian Institute of Criminology, “possession, use and supply of steroids, other than by prescription from a medical practitioner, dentist or veterinarian is illegal throughout Australia as is unauthorised importation”. In order words, it is illegal to have, or try to ship steroids from overseas.

Legal Steroid Alternatives

There are various safe and legal alternatives to steroids. These are generally derived from food or herbal ingredients and are designed to increase the natural level of testosterone production in the body. Many of these have been covered in detail in our two-part article “Testosterone Support Supplements (Part 1)” and “Testosterone Support Supplements (Part 2)”, as well as our “Aromatase Inhibitors” article. Here are just a few examples of testosterone boosting ingredients to look out for:

  • Tribulus terrestris: This is probably the most widely used herb to help boost testosterone.
  • D-aspartic acid: an amino acid which has been shown to play a role in testosterone production and release in the body
  • Long Jack (Longifolia): A very promising herbal supplement shown to increase testosterone, strength, and lean gains.
  • Aromatase inhibitors and anti-oestrogen supplements: A group of unrelated compounds that can help to block the conversion of testosterone into oestrogen.

Brower et al (1991), Am J Drug Alcohol Abuse. 17: 161-171
De Piccoli et al (1991), Anabolic steroid use in body builders: an echocardiographic study of left ventricle morphology and function. Int J Sports Med, 12: 408–412
Garevik et al (2012), Single dose testosterone increases total cholesterol levels and induces the expression of HMG CoA reductase. Subst Abuse Treat Prev Policy,7: 12
Grace et al (2003), Blood pressure and rate pressure product response in males using high-dose anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS). J Sci Med Sport 6: 307–312
Irving et al (2002), Steroid use among adolescents: findings from Project EAT. The Journal of adolescent health, 30: 243–252
Kicman & Gower (2003), Anabolic steroids in sport: biochemical, clinical and analytical perspectives. Annals of Clinical Biochemistry 40: 321–356
Kuhn (2002), Anabolic steroids. Recent Progress in Hormone Research, 57: 411-434
Manikkam et al (2004), Fetal programming: prenatal testosterone excess leads to fetal growth retardation and postnatal catch-up growth in sheep. Endocrinology, 145: 790–798
Matsumoto (1990). Effects of chronic testosterone administration in normal men: safety and efficacy of high dosage testosterone and parallel dose-dependent suppression of luteinizing hormone, follicle-stimulating hormone, and sperm production. J. Clin. Endocrinol. Metab. 70: 282–287
Melnik et al (2007), Abuse of anabolic-androgenic steroids and bodybuilding acne: an underestimated health problem. Journal der Deutschen Dermatologischen Gesellschaft 5: 110–117
Perry et al (2003), Measures of aggression and mood changes in male weightlifters with and without androgenic anabolic steroid use. J. Forensic Sci. 4: 646–651
Pope et al (2000), Effects of Supraphysiologic Doses of Testosterone on Mood and Aggression in Normal Men. Med Sci Sports Exerc (Arch Gen Psychiatry), 57: 133–140
Trenton & Currier (2005), Behavioural manifestations of anabolic steroid use. CNS Drugs, 19: 571–595

Garcinia Cambogia

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What is Garcinia cambogia?

Garcinia cambogia is a tropical species of the family Garcinia, a group of evergreen plants and shrubs. It produces a yellow fruit that is similar in shape to a pumpkin, but about the size of an orange or grapefruit. The colour can vary considerably from a greeny yellow to an orangey yellow, and it becomes black when dried and stored.

Where Does Garcinia cambogia Come From?

Garcinia cambogia is found in South East Asia, India, and some areas of West and Central Africa. It grows only in forests with a high moisture level, but is quite widely distributed. It is generally used as a flavour enhancer in culinary dishes, to increase sourness or counteract sweet flavours in curry. It is also used in coastal areas to cure fish, making use of its antibacterial properties.

Garcinia cambogia Health Benefits

Garcinia cambogia has traditionally been used to add flavour to savoury dishes and has also been used to enhance satiety after consumption. There has also been evidence to suggest that the fruit was traditionally used to treat gastrointestinal issues. Interestingly the seeds of the garcinia cambogia plant have quite a high iron content, a mineral that is extremely useful for women, but also for trainers who participate in a lot of running due to the phenomenon known as ‘footstrike hemolysis’, whereby constant foot impact can result in loos of red blood cells and therefore iron.

Garcinia cambogia Benefits for Bodybuilding

Most of the benefits for Garcinia has been attributed to its potential as a fat loss ingredient. Garcinia cambogia is often included in weight loss products such as fat burners. This is due to its ability to reduce fat synthesis and storage from non-fatty foods, although many of the studies were performed in rodents, which have different fat storage mechanisms to humans. It does however attenuate the rate of weight gain in general as well as regain after a diet. While the effects aren’t huge, average weight loss from use of Garcinia cambogia is 1.3kg more than placebo – which for some people can be a good push towards achieving further weight loss.

Garcinia cambogia has also been studied to have mild diuretic effects, however this is only when the leaves of the plant are eaten. Hydroxycitric acid, the key active component of garcinia cambogia may also be able to support better glycogen resynthesis when supplemented alongside carbohydrates in a post-training state.

Garcinia cambogia Side Effects, Safety and Negatives

Few studies have been conducted on the safety and side effects of Garcinia cambogia or hydroxycitric acid supplementation. In general there are no side effects or mortality associated with doses of Garcinia cambogia up to 5g/kg of body weight.

Garcinia cambogia Recommended Doses and Ingredient Timing

There are no conclusive recommendations on the dosage of Garcinia to support its positive effects. Generally however, most studies have utilised a 500mg dose of Garcinia cambogia to be taken 30 minutes to an hour before eating a main meal, and can be taken at breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Garcinia cambogia Supplements

Garcinia cambogia is found in many fat burners, such as Maxs Super Shred and BodyWar BodyShred. It can also be bought as a stand alone supplement.

Stacking Garcinia cambogia

Garcinia cambogia would be best stacked with other weight loss products, either with or without a Garcinia cambogia component, to enhance the effects, such as fat loss proteins and even pre-workouts and intra-workouts. You can also easily stack Garcinia with any other supplement really such as regular protein powders or creatine.

Márquez F, et al. Evaluation of the safety and efficacy of hydroxycitric acid or Garcinia cambogia extracts in humans. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. (2012)
Telford RD, Sly GJ, Hahn AG, Cunningham RB, Bryant C, Smith JA (January 2003). “Footstrike is the major cause of hemolysis during running”. J. Appl. Physiol. 94 (1): 38–42.
Heymsfield SB, et al. Garcinia cambogia (hydroxycitric acid) as a potential antiobesity agent: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA. (1998)
Mathew GE, et al. Diuretic activity of leaves of garcinia cambogia in rats. Indian J Pharm Sci. (2011)
Cheng IS, et al. Oral hydroxycitrate supplementation enhances glycogen synthesis in exercised human skeletal muscle. Br J Nutr. (2012)

Remove Your Sunspots the Natural Way

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Due to excessive sun exposure, sunspots are formed on the skin. Sunspots are the round spots which are usually lighter or darker on the skin. These dark unwanted spots occur on our skin’s surface when our skin produces more melanin to protect itself from the sun’s harmful rays. People can easily get rid of sunspots by protecting skin from harmful UV rays. If your skin is damaged, there are several natural solutions which will help you to remove your sunspots. Natural ingredients are the best one to remove sunspots without any side effects. Sunspots can be a real warning sign that will make skin cancer. Some of the natural ingredients which remove sunspots are given below.

Aloe Vera: aloe Vera is the most beneficial to your skin whether it is affected by sun or not. Aloe Vera helps to recovering your sun damaged skin and grow with natural cells.

Lemon treatment: Lemon is one of the most effective remedies for hyper pigmentation. Lemon’s citrus acid contains healing power from nature and it washes away dead skin and facilitates growth of new skin cells. Lemon juice has the ability to lighten skin, which helps to even out the skin tone. You have to pour lemon juice on face for 10 minutes. You should not go out in the sun during lemon treatment.

Garlic and tomato treatment: you can use fresh garlic which will help you to enlighten your skin and give a natural look. Fresh vegetable like tomato is a good source which deals with sunspots.

Calcium

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One of the most commonly stressed nutrients for bodybuilding and fat reduction is protein. However, something novel to consider is calcium intake.

What is Calcium?

Calcium is an essential mineral which had traditional roles including being a component of bones, involvement in blood clotting, and the operation of the muscular and nervous system. However, more recently, calcium has also been found to potentially increase muscle strength and aid in weight loss by helping to shed fat.

Where is Calcium Found?

Calcium can be found in food such as dairy products and green vegetables.

Calcium Benefits

Calcium is one of the minerals that are sort after by elite and high level athletes. For this reason, and the ones mentioned above, its use is attractive to bodybuilders, athletes, and also for weight loss. Even for the sake of general health, if you’re not eating the recommended daily allowance of calcium, supplementation is a good way to ensure your body and bones are getting what they need.

Calcium & Viamin D Benefits for Muscle Strength

Calcium goes hand in hand with vitamin D, as it is needed for the absorption of calcium. Thus, there have been numerous studies looking at supplementing these two compounds on the effect of muscle strength. Doses of  >1 g/day calcium, along with vitamin D has been found to increase muscle strength (Bischoff, 2003, Gupta, 2010), possibly by improving the force of muscle contractions. So when it comes to bodybuilding and strength training, calcium supplementation may help with pumping heavier iron. Calcium supplementation appears to be especially important for female bodybuilders, as this is a group particularly prone to being deficient (Kleiner et al, 1990). This in turn may be preventing them from performing at their best.

Calcium Benefits for Fat Loss

For overweight individuals looking to lose a few kilos, it has been recommended that they should take a calcium supplement, even if they are consuming the recommended intake of calcium from food. This is because, as they drop the weight, the strain is taken off their bones, which in turn leads to the loss of bone mineral density. A total calcium intake of 800 mg/day has been found to be effective (Jensen, 2001). Furthermore, an 800 mg/day supplement has been shown to be effective in boosting the reduction of fat mass and hence total weight loss (Zemel, 2004). One study has found that eating a calcium rich breakfast (over 500 mg), people were able to increase their metabolism and fat burning, while also suppressing appetite (Ping-Delfos & Soares, 2011). There are a few hypothesised mechanisms about why this happens. It is possible that calcium reduces the absorption of fat within the gut, or the calcium present in fat cells increases lipolysis or fat burning. The effect of high calcium levels is synergistic to a high protein diet, and both work together to help lose fat. Because of this relationship between calcium and protein, as well as the effects of calcium on fat loss, it may also be helpful for bodybuilders wanting to lose fat and gain/maintain muscle.

Risks of Inadequate Calcium Intake

Stress fractures can occur with long term high impact activities, such as running. This may be an issue, especially with the heavier bodybuilders or larger individuals running to get in some cardio. Low calcium intake is a factor linked to low bone mineral density, and hence, leading to the occurrence of stress fractures (Myburgh et al, 1990). In the same study, the authors found that athletes consuming >800 mg of calcium per day were less likely to develop stress fractures.

Calcium Side Effects

Although calcium is necessary for life and has many benefits, one must take care not to over-do a good thing. Extreme excess use of calcium and vitamin D supplements will result in harmful side effects such as soft tissue mineralisation. However, if you stick to the recommended doses given on the pack, you should be well within the safe zone, even if you already consume a calcium rich diet.

Calcium Recommended Doses and Ingredient Timing

From the above studies, it would be recommended to take around 800 mg/day. Therefore, a supplement containing 300 mg (2 to 3 per day) would be appropriate for such dosages. Calcium can be taken with a meal.

Calcium Supplements

In this writer’s opinion, you should look for a calcium supplement containing vitamin D. Many people are vitamin D deficient, and calcium cannot be absorbed without vitamin D. Many bodybuilding supplements contain calcium. These include protein powders, protein bars, antioxidant products, and much more.

Stacking Calcium

Calcium is a mineral that can be stacked with anything. If you are after it’s fat burning properties, consider stacking calcium with fat burners and/or fat metabolisers.

Bischoff (2003), Effects of Vitamin D and Calcium Supplementation on Falls: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, 18: 343-351.
Jensen et al (2001), Bone mineral changes in obese women during a moderate weight loss with and without calcium supplementation. Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, 16: 141-147.
Gupta et al (2010), Effect of cholecalciferol and calcium supplementation on muscle strength and energy metabolism in vitamin D-deficient Asian Indians: a randomized, controlled trial. Clinical Endocrinology, 73: 445-451.
Myburgh et al (1990), Low bone density is an etiologic factor for stress fractures in athletes. Annals of Internal Medicine, 113: 754-759
Kleiner et al (1990), Metabolic profiles, diet, and health practices of championship male and female bodybuilders. Journal of American Dietetics Association 90: 962-967
Ping-Delfos & Soares (2011), Diet induced thermogenesis, fat oxidation and food intake following sequential meals: influence of calcium and vitamin D. Clin Nutr, 30: 376-383
Zemel (2004), Calcium and dairy acceleration of weight and fat loss during energy restriction in obese adults. Obesity Research, 12: 582-590.

The Great Blender Review (Vitamix, ect…)

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It’s no secret I’m a fan of the smoothie. Every second picture I post on Instagram is a visual nod to the great, blended drink. Smoothies are a staple of my diet. Green ones, in particular, but I also love a good berry or cacao dessert-type smoothie on occasion. Barely a day goes by that I don’t use my blender, and I even have an e-book with over 80 green smoothie recipes that you will score for free when you sign up for my newsletters. So, it’s no surprise that I’m constantly being asked for advice on which blender to buy.

This blender review is purely my personal opinion, and you may feel differently when you get the chance to try out different machines. But based on my personal experience and research, this is my list of the best blenders on the market.


1. VITAMIX

I love my Vitamix and I don’t know anyone who has used this machine and not become instantly besotted with it. It blends so quick and smooth, making it super easy to whip up smoothies that taste amazing. No fibrous bits! This baby also makes cashew cream and other raw desserts like ice cream and cheesecake. It also has a great cusiony handle I’ve not seen on other blenders.

Cost: Between $850-$1000
Warranty: 7 years
Website: vitamix.com.au


2. BLENDTEC

This is an awesome blender as well, and I know people who actually prefer it to the Vitamix. It’s benefits include being slightly cheaper, slightly more quiet, and it comes with a wider based jug, making it easier to scoop out bits of raw dessert that may be stuck to the bottom.

Cost: Between $799-$879
Warranty: 7 years
Website: blendtec.net.au


3. OMNI BLEND

I was sent one of these bad boys recently and I have to say I was pretty impressed. It made a bit more noise than my Vitamix, and it doesn’t have the soft handle, but it’s whiz-power was up there and it produced a super-smooth smoothie. If you don’t want to spend the higher price, but you still want a great blender, this is an awesome option.

Cost: $255-$265
Warranty: 3 years
Website: omniblendaustralia.com.au


4. TRIBEST PERSONAL BLENDER

 

This is the first blender we ever bought, and despite its small size, it served us well … until I burnt out the motor attempting to make cacao balls in it. Still, it’s an awesome machine to take with you when you’re travelling, or for just making salad dressings and single-servings of smoothies.

Cost: $109-$165
Warranty: 1 year
Website: raw-pleasure.com.au
You may be wondering why I haven’t included the Thermomix on my list and this is purely because I don’t have one and I have never used one. I know many people who are Thermomix devotees though. They are basically an all-in-one machine, and the only downside I’ve heard is that they aren’t as good as the Vitamix at making extremely smooth smoothies.
I hope this post helps you with your blender-deciding process. If you’re trying to justify spending so much on a kitchen appliance, I have to say that it’s a decision I doubt you will regret. A good quality blender makes your time in the kitchen so much easier!

What’s your favourite blender? Have you tried these ones? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Caffeine

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Tea or Coffee For Bodybuilders?

Tea and coffee are two of the most widely consumed drinks in the world. But besides the taste and its ability to wake us up, is there something in these two drinks which may be helpful for our performance in the gym? The answer is yes and that something is caffeine.

Caffeine & Bodybuilding

Caffeine is a white alkaloid compound first isolated from coffee in 1820. Naturally found in coffee and tea, it can also be found in various plant leaves, fruit, nuts and seeds including the guarana berry and the kola nut. Caffeine is the world’s most widely used drug and is termed a psychoactive substance as it is capable of crossing over the blood brain barrier and act on the nervous system. Caffeine and its effects on the body have been researched thoroughly since its discovery and some beneficial effects of caffeine include reduced risk of heart1 and liver2 disease and possible prolonging of progression of Parkinson’s3, Alzheimer’s and other dementias4.

Caffeine & Exercise

The use of caffeine for sports and exercise performance has been studied extensively with a general consensus of positive effects over several domains:

  • Cognition and Mental Performance. Moderate doses of caffeine have the ability to improve cognitive and mental performance by increasing alertness, attention and concentration5. The ability for increased focused is a definite benefit for a wide variety of sports, but is also important in the gym for focusing on your workout to ensure maximum effect. Poor attention can lead to increased risk of injury and decreased effectiveness of the exercises from poor form and posture during workouts.
  • Endurance Capacity. Many of the studies relating to caffeine and exercise performance have looked at endurance performance. Ganio et al (2009)6 was able to show improved endurance in time trial performance in activities lasting longer than 5 minutes with ingestion of caffeine. Warren et al (2010)7 was able to conclude that caffeine ingestion led to increased muscular endurance. Many theories have been proposed over the exact way in which caffeine is able to increase endurance capacity, two of which have stood out in recent years. The first proposed mechanism is caffeine’s ability to reduce ratings of perceived exertion (RPE)8,9. RPE is a rating of how hard we believe an exercise to be at a single moment. Reductions in RPE then can prove beneficial to help us perform the exercise for longer; ie squeezing out that extra set or rep during a workout. The second proposed mechanism is caffeine’s ability to increase availability of fatty acids circulating in the blood which can help shift energy metabolism to use of fats rather than glycogen9, which can be used later as a more immediate source of energy.
  • Power and Strength. Unfortunately, not as many studies have been performed on effects of caffeine on short bursts of high intensity activity such as resistance exercise. A detailed review performed by Astorino et al (2010)10 of several studies showed that caffeine ingestion is also able to positively affect strength and power production. Results ranged from increased number of repetitions performed, increased force production and increased amount of weight lifted. Warren et al (2010)7 was also able to show an overall improved muscular strength in terms of maximal voluntary contraction through 27 separate experimental studies. The exact mechanism for caffeine’s ability to improve power and strength is still unknown.
  • Post-Exercise. A 2008 study by Australian researchers at RMIT showed that ingestion of 8mg/kg of bodyweight of caffeine with carbohydrates post exercise was able to increase glycogen storage in muscles moreso than persons not consuming carbohydrates without caffeine11. Another study was also able to show reduction of pain of DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) with ingestion of about 2 cups of brewed coffee ~160-270mg.12
  • Fat Loss. Caffeine is a well known ingredient in many thermogenic products (those promoting weight and fat loss). Caffeine has been shown to increase the rate of fatty acid oxidation in our bodies helping us to burn off more fat. Several studies show that combinations of Ephedra, Caffeine and Aspirin, also know as the ECA stack has had great success in promoting weight and fat loss as well as improving insulin sensitivity13. It should be noted however that Ephedra is a banned substance in professional sport.

How Much Caffeine Should I Take?

As with all supplements, different people react to different dosages so there is no one dose that is suitable for everyone. However, several studies have shown improved exercise performance with caffeine ingestion between 2.5-7 mg/kg of bodyweight10. Higher doses are required if one is taking caffeine alone as an ergogenic supplement. So for a 70kg male, the amount of caffeine needed for possible benefits range from 175-490 mg. In actual drink terms, this would mean 2-5 shots of coffee, 2-6 Red Bulls or 1-3 shots of Pocket Shot Energy Drinks. Depending on the strength of caffeine tablets, 2-5 tablets are required to provide the amounts needed by the 70kg man. Timing of caffeine ingestion is also important. Caffeine is absorbed from the gut around 45 minutes after consumption with peak levels seen in the blood around the 1 hour mark. So it may be wise to ingest the caffeine about 1 hour before starting your workouts.

Suggested caffeine dosage:

  • 2.5-7mg/kg of bodyweight
  • Approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour prior to working out.

Caffeine Warning

Of course as with any drug that affects our central nervous system, our body becomes tolerant to its effects quite soon. It is recommended to abstain from caffeine for 7 days to maximise the ergogenic effects of caffeine. Cycling caffeine 1-3 weeks on and 1 week off will also help to maintain the positive effects of caffeine on your exercise performance. It is also important to know that increased intake of caffeine can cause issues such as sleep disruption, nervousness, irritability, heart palpitations, headaches and stomach upsets which may negatively affect your workouts. For professional athletes, it should also be noted that while caffeine is not banned by WADA (World Anti-Doping Association), it is part of WADA’s Monitoring Program. This program includes substances which are not prohibited in sport, but which WADA monitors in order to detect patterns of misuse in sport14.

Caffeine & Creatine

A common question floating around over the past few years has been the connection between caffeine and creatine. While more research needs to be conducted to confirm and reproduce findings, two studies showed that ingestion of caffeine with creatine is able to decrease the ergogenic effects of creatine. One study showed that creatine’s ability to shorten muscle relaxation time is counteracted by caffeine which prolonged the relaxation time15. The other study showed that while caffeine did not affect the amount of phosphocreatine concentrations in the muscle (important as a fast energy source), ingestion of caffeine with creatine meant the muscle was not able to increase force production16. Caffeine is also a diuretic which may negatively affect creatine’s muscle volumising properties. While this may impact on the volume and girth of your muscles, water retention in your muscles isn’t a source of strength. With all this information in mind, it may be wise to consider taking caffeine and creatine separately.

Caffeine – Should I or Shouldn’t I?

Caffeine is a well researched compound and supplement. It can help improve endurance, strength, power and mental performance during exercise and sports performance. On top of that it can help promote better recovery after exercise and even fat loss. While over consumption of caffeine has several issues related to it, this author believes moderate, proper, educated and sensible use of caffeine can really help boost your workout capacity and therefore your results. Ensure that you cycle caffeine for the best benefits and not to consume it with creatine as it will completely counteract any positive effects of creatine.

1 Greenberg, J.A.; Dunbar, CC; Schnoll, R; Kokolis, R; Kokolis, S; Kassotis, J. “Caffeinated beverage intake and the risk of heart disease mortality in the elderly: a prospective analysis”. Am J Clin Nutr 2007 85 (2): 392–8
2 Apurva AM et al. ‘Increased caffeine consumption is associated with reduced hepatic fibrosis.’ Hepatology 2010 Jan. 51(1): 201-209
3 Ross GW et al. ‘Association of Coffee and Caffeine Intake With the Risk of Parkinson Disease’. The Journ. of the Amer. Med. Assoc. 2000: 283(20): 2674-2679
4 de Mendonca A & Cunha RA. ‘Therapeutic opportunities for caffeine in Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders’ J Alzheimer’s Dis. 2010: 20 Supp 1: S1-2
5 Peeling P & Dawson B. ‘Influence of caffeine ingestion on perceived mood states, concentration, and arousal levels during a 75-min university lecture.’ Adv Physiol Educ. 2007;31:332-5
6 Ganio MS, Klau JF, Casa DJ, Armstrong LE, Maresh CM. ‘Effect of caffeine on sport-specific endurance performance: a systematic review.’ J Strength Cond Res. 2009 Jan;23(1):315-24.
7 Warren GL, Park ND, Maresca RD, McKibans KI, Millard-Stafford ML. ‘Effect of caffeine ingestion on muscular strength and endurance: a meta-analysis.’ Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2010 Jul;42(7):1375-87.
8 Doherty M, Smith PM. ‘Effects of caffeine ingestion on rating of perceived exertion during and after exercise: a meta-analysis.’ Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2005 Apr;15(2):69-78.
9 McArdle, William (2010). Exercise Physiology. 7th edition. Baltimore, MD: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins. pp. 559.
10 Astorino TA & Roberson DW. ‘Efficacy of Acute Caffeine Ingestion for Short-term High-Intensity Exercise Performance: A Systematic Review.’ Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 2010 Jan: 24(1): pp 257-265
11 Pedersen DJ, Lessard SJ, Coffey VG, Churchley EG, Wootton AM, Ng T, Watt MJ, Hawley JA. ‘High rates of muscle glycogen resynthesis after exhaustive exercise when carbohydrate is coingested with caffeine.’ J Appl Physiol. 2008 Jul;105(1):7-13. Epub 2008 May 8.
12 Maridakis V, O’Connor PJ, Dudley GA, McCully KK. ‘Caffeine attenuates delayed-onset muscle pain and force loss following eccentric exercise.’ J Pain. 2007 Mar;8(3):237-43. Epub 2006 Dec 11.
13 Kreider RB et al ‘ISSN exercise & sport nutrition review: research & recommendations.’ Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 2010 Feb, 7:7
14 http://www.wada-ama.org/en/Science-Medicine/Prohibited-List/QA-on-2011-Prohibited-List/. Accessed May 2011
15 Hespel P, Op’t Eijnde B, Van Leemputte M. ‘Opposite actions of caffeine and creatine on muscle relaxation time in humans.’ J Appl Physiol. 2002 Feb;92(2):513-8.
16 van Leemputte M, Vandenberghe K, Hespel P. ‘Shortening of muscle relaxation time after creatine loading.’ J Appl Physiol. 1999 Mar;86(3):840-4.

L-Arginine

L-arginine-molecule

What is Arginine?

Arginine is an amino acid that has been investigated for its potential properties in enhancing athletic performance. It is of interest to bodybuilders as it may increase “the pump”, as well as athletes for its possible effects on improving endurance.

Where Does Arginine Come From?

Under normal circumstances, arginine is synthesised in the body by complex chain of reactions. Consequently, it is not strictly considered to be an essential amino acid. However, it’s generally not synthesised in adequate amounts to meet the demands of most people, and a dietary source may also be necessary. It can be found in supplements, in lot of animal products such as meat and dairy, as well as plant sources such as nuts, seeds, and wheat.

Arginine & Nitric Oxide

One compound that is of a lot of interest to bodybuilders is nitric oxide (NO). Nitric oxide is a natural vasodilator, which means it is synthesised by your body to temporarily widen your blood vessels. This allows more blood to reach your muscles and give you what is known as “the pump”. The pump make your muscles look larger, feel firmer, and the additional blood supply may aid in increasing endurance and weight lifting. Nitric oxide as a substance is considered a drug, is unstable, and is therefore not available to most people. However, arginine is the precursor to nitric oxide in the body, and being an amino acids means that it is readily available to everyone.

Arginine & Creatine

Creatine phosphate is a naturally produced molecule within the body that breaks to make more ATP (the currency for energy needed for muscle contractions). Arginine is involved in the body’s process of making creatine. However, if you are looking to increase your creatine levels, it is better to be more direct in your approach and use a creatine supplement.

Arginine Vs Citruline

Citruline is the precursor to arginine. It has been said that supplementation with citruline may be more effective in producing nitric oxide than using arginine directly. Read more about this in our article on Arginine Vs Citruline.

Arginine Benefits

Arginine Benefits for Growth Hormone

Studies have suggested that arginine, given along with its precursor, ornithine, is a strong stimulant for the secretion of human growth hormone (hGC) and other anabolic agents in untrained subjects (Butterfield, 1999). However, when given to trained individuals such as bodybuilders and weight lifters, arginine does not appear to help increase the already high levels of hGC within these people (Williams, 1999). However, this may be due to inappropriate mixtures and doses, as it has been found that arginine in combination with lysine is needed (Isidori et al, 1981). Thus, in regards to the effect of arginine on increasing anabolic hormones, it may be more effective if you are a beginner, looking to start bodybuilding or weight training. Once you become experienced, arginine supplementation alone may not significantly boost your hormone levels.

Arginine Benefits for Strength & Endurance

There has been some evidence in the scientific literature to support arginine as a performance enhancer. Elam et al (1989) reported that arginine along with ornithine was successful in being able to increase strength, lean mass, as well as experiencing improved recovery parameters. A more recent study found that a commercial arginine supplement, also containing vitamins C and E, was effective in increasing the endurance threshold of an elderly group of cyclists (Chen et al, 2010). It has been speculated that this works because of the effect arginine has on increasing nitric oxide synthesis, thereby causing vasodilation and increases in endurance.

It has been suggested that arginine may be beneficial in building lean mass when consumed in conjunction with other amino acids. As a result of the increased nitric oxide production, increased blood flow may help deliver additional amino acids to muscles needed for muscle anabolism and growth (Paddon-Jones et al, 2004).

Arginine Benefits for Erectile Dysfunction

Nitric oxide plays a major role in penile erection. Thus, it has been thought that arginine may be able to elevate erectile dysfunction. There have been numerous studies that have reported that arginine supplementation improved the condition of men suffering from erectile dysfunction. This effect also seems to be amplified when arginine is given in combination with pycnogenols (a pink bark extract) (MacKay, 2004).

Arginine Safety and Side Effects

Arginine is a common amino acid with the body and the food we eat. Consequently it is a very safe compound. Excess arginine is easily eliminated from the body, and few side effects are reported. It has been estimated that a 70 kg man would be able to tolerate up to 20 g arginine per day over a long period of time (Wu et al, 2007).

Arginine Recommended Doses and Ingredient Timing

Doses as low as 1 or 2 grams of arginine may help to increase exercise performance. This should be taken between half to an hour before training.

Arginine Supplements

Arginine supplements come in three forms:

  • Stand-alone – just a pure, good old arginine supplement. This can be taken pre workout to potentially increase nitric oxide synthesise and the pump.
  • Protein and amino acid blends – some are considered to be “specialty and muscle building proteins” the arginine present in these products can help to deliver amino acids muscle tissue, which may fuel muscles for anabolism and rapid recovery.
  • Pre workout supplements – many pre workout mixtures include arginine, as well as other amino acids, for the above mentioned reason. However you may also find ingredients such as caffeine and creatine to complement the potentially ergogenic effects of arginine.

Stacking Arginine

Arginine can be stacked with other amino acids to help improve amino acid incorporation into muscles. It can also be stacked with citruline to increase pump during workouts.

Butterfield (1999), Amino acids and high protein diets. In Lamb DR, Williams MH (eds): Ergogenics: Enhancement of Performance in Exercise and Sports. Dubuque, IA, Brown and Benchmark, pp 87-122
Chen et al (2010), Arginine and antioxidant supplement on performance in elderly male cyclists: a randomized controlled trial. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 7: 13
Elam et al (1989), Effects of arginine and ornithine on strength, lean body mass and urinary hydroxyproline in adult males. J Sports Med Phys Fitness, 29: 52-56.
Isidori et al (1981), A study of growth hormone release in man after oral administration of amino acids. Current Medical Research and Opinion, 7: 475-481
Paddon-Jones et al (2004), Potential Ergogenic Effects of Arginine and Creatine Supplementation. J. Nutr, 134: 2888S-2894S
MacKay (2004), Nutrients and botanicals for erectile dysfunction: examining the evidence. Altern Med Rev, 9: 4-16
Williams (1999), Facts and fallacies of purported ergogenic amino acid supplements. Clinics in Sports Medicine, 18: 633-649
Wu et al (2007), Pharmacokinetics and Safety of Arginine Supplementation in Animals. J Nutr. 137: 1673S-1680S

Phenylalanine

L-phenylalanine-3D-balls

What Is Phenylalanine?

Phenylalanine is an essential amino acid that belongs to a larger group of amino acids collectively referred to as large neutral amino acids (LNAA)1. Other amino acids that make up this group include tyrosine, leucine, valine, isoleucine and tryptophan. The LNAA designation refers to a similarity in the structure and charge of their side chains. This group of amino acids compete for the same carrier to diffuse through the blood-brain barrier. For this reason, phenylalanine should be taken on its own, if trying to raise levels in brain.

Phenylalanine serves as the precursor to tyrosine, which in turn serves as the precursor to the catecholamine’s (i.e. dopamine, norepinephrine and epinephrine), melanin and thyroid hormones1. The catecholamine’s are involved in basic nervous system activities such as movement, memory, attention, problem solving, desire, motivation, “fight or flight” response, heart rate and stroke volume, anaphylaxis and energy production via glycolysis or lipolysis3.

Where Does Phenylalanine Come From?

As phenylalanine is an essential amino acid, it is found in a large range of foods. However, foods with the highest content of phenylalanine include meat, fish, eggs, milk, cheese, nuts and pulses. In terms of phenylalanine protein content; soy, casein and whey are the best respective sources.

Phenylalanine Benefits

Because phenylalanine serves as a precursor to tyrosine, which is a precursor to thyroid hormones, it is sometimes included in supplements to stimulate thyroid activity. Thyroid hormones play a crucial role in regulating metabolism and therefore weight management. For this reason, phenylalanine is sometimes included in fat metaboliser supplements; however, tyrosine is used in the place of phenylalanine in most instances. Because phenylalanine also serves as a precursor to the catecholamines, dopamine, epinephrine and norepinephrine, it sometimes features in pre-workout supplements for its purported mood-enhancing effects; however, as with fat metabolisers, tyrosine is more commonly used in its place.

Negative Side-Effects of Phenylalanine

There are no known specific adverse side-effects from phenylalanine consumption or supplementation, other than its obvious contraindication for individuals with phenylketonuria (PKU); a genetic disease that restricts the metabolism of phenylalanine to tyrosine. In an interesting aside, dairy food scientists have recently developed a new low phenylalanine whey based protein substitute for PKU, called glycomacroprotein (GMP). It is derived from cheese whey (naturally low in phenylalanine) and it is supplemented with phenylalanine-free essential amino acids. In PKU, recent short term studies in mice and humans demonstrate improved protein retention with GMP compared with phenylalanine-free amino acids4, 5.

Phenylalanine Recommended Dosages and Timing

There are very few clinical trials (if any) where oral phenylalanine has been used to treat a condition or symptom. For this reason it is hard to provide proven recommendations on phenylalanine supplementation. Having said that, most supplements contain added phenylalanine in amounts below 1g. Whey protein typically provides between 2 and 3g of phenylalanine per 100g.

Phenylalanine Supplements

Nowadays, phenylalanine does not feature very prominently in supplements. It most commonly occurs naturally as part of protein powders.

1. Fernstrom JD & Fernstrom MH. Tyrosine, phenylalanine, and catecholamine synthesis and function in the brain. The Journal of Nutrition. 2007;15:1539S-1547S.
2. Start K. Treating phenylketonuria by a phenylalanine-free diet. Prof Care Mother Child. 1998;8(4):109-110.
3. Lord RS & Bralley JA. (2008). Laboratory Evaluations for Integrative and Functional Medicine. Metametrix Institute, Duluth, Georgia Atlanta.
4. D.M. Ney, S.T. Gleason, S.C. van Calcar, E.L. MacLeod, K.L. Nelson, M.R. Etzel, G.M. Rice, J.A. Wolff, Nutritional management of PKU with glycomacropeptide from cheese whey. J Inherit Metab Dis. 2009;32:32–39.
5. E.L. MacLeod, M.K. Clayton, S.C. van Calcar, D.M. Ney, Breakfast with glycomacropeptide compared with amino acids suppresses plasma ghrelin levels in individuals with phenylketonuria. Mol Genet Metab. 2010;100:303–308.

Sytropin HGH Spray Formula Increases Physical Recovery

sytropin_bottle_600-89x300

Our bodies are able to involuntarily tell us many things by giving us clear signals.

We know when our bodies have been awake for too long because we start feeling very tired.

We know very clearly when our bodies need us to get rid of waste because we will suddenly either need to go to the bathroom or in extreme cases, vomit.

Some people’s bodies can even tell them that a thunderstorm is approaching by making former injuries ache.

As your body ages, you receive some obvious alerts as well: things like a slower metabolism, thinning hair, wrinkled skin, and a constant feeling of fatigue, among other things. It can get frustrating because you undoubtedly miss the overall healthy feeling you had when you were younger.

If this sounds familiar, you should look into Sytropin HGH, a product that can help reverse the aging process and restore the great way you felt when you were younger!

What Sytropin HGH Does

Sytropin HGH is an HGH supplement spray that will make you look and feel younger, happier, and more energetic. It has the power to significantly affect the aging process as well as your physical performance.

Sytropin HGH promises to dramatically reduce time’s negative effect on your body in many ways. For example, Sytropin HGH can significantly decrease your body fat levels and increase your lean muscle mass while also providing you with a greater cardiac output due to a renewal in energy and vitality.

After using Sytropin HGH, you will also notice an improvement in not only your hair, which will be thicker and healthier, and your skin, which will benefit from a restored elasticity and a reduction in wrinkles, but you will also see improvements in your memory, your sex drive, and your mood.

Sytropin HGH can also strengthen your bones and muscles, lower your blood pressure, and lower your cholesterol.

But how can it possibly do all that it promises?

How Sytropin HGH Does It

Sytropin HGH utilizes powerful ingredients that have been proven to improve your HGH levels. GABA, for example, improves your central nervous system’s effectiveness while also improving your sleep cycle, which increases your HGH production because it is directly related to quality sleep.

Another one of Sytropin HGH’s key ingredients is L-Arginine, a natural amino acid. L-Arginine has the power to improve your immune function and to increase both cell replication and sperm count.

Ornithine Alpha Ketoglutarate, another core part of the Sytropin HGH formula, will help your body immensely. It can improve your overall athletic performance and drastically improve your immune system, which will allow your body to heal wounds quickly. Ornithine Alpha Ketoglutarate will also stimulate the growth of new muscle in your body.

Green Tea

green-tea-tablets

What is Green Tea?

Over the recent years, green tea has possibly been one of the most well studied herbal remedies. It has been linked to a variety of health promoting effects such as thermogenesis and protection from heart disease. There is no doubt that green tea is good for you, but science is only really starting to scratch the surface of the potential of this super food. Green tea is a tea made from the leaves of the plant Camellia sinensis. Although many other teas are made from this same plant, the green tea manufacturing process allows minimal oxidation. This may be the discriminatory factor that gives green tea its many potentially beneficial properties.

Where Does Green Tea Come From?

Green tea originates from China and then spread to many other parts of Asia such as Japan, Korea, Vietnam, and Thailand. In those countries, green tea was used as both a beverage and a traditional medicine. However, over the recent years, green tea has also become popular among the western world for its drinking and medicinal qualities.

Green Tea Benefits

Green tea contains a type of polyphenol (group of plant compounds with health promoting effects) known as catechins. Out of the many catechins found in green tea, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) is the most abundant. These are antioxidants and the “active ingredients” of green tea, so to speak. However, there are also a variety of other important nutrients such as vitamins C and E, chromium, zinc, manages, and selenium. Scientific studies exploring the effects of green tea often use green tea extracts, which contain all the catechins.

Green Tea Benefits for Fat Loss

One of the most interesting properties of green tea is its potentially beneficial use for weight and fat loss. Studies have found that after consuming a green tea extract, subjects experienced a 17% increase in lipid oxidation (Venables et al, 2008) and 4% total energy expenditure (Dulloo et al, 1999) compared to those receiving a placebo. Simply put, green tea increased the amount of fat burn and total energy used. Findings such as these are supported by many others. The drinking of four cups of green tea was reported to reduce the body weight of healthy people by almost 1 kg, and body fat by 2.4% in only 14 days. The authors of this study go on to say that this effect may be even more pronounced in the obese (Al-Dukaili et al, 2009). A longer study showed that the consumption of green tea over 12 weeks, along with a controlled diet was able to cause almost double the reduction in body weight and fat mass in comparison to a control (Nagao et al, 2005). I could go on with examples of research supporting green tea as a fat loss aid, but we’ll be here all day, because of the sheer amount of supporting evidence. Some might argue that the thermogenic properties of green tea is due to its caffeine content. However, it has been shown that when given equal amounts of caffeine, people do not experience the same level of thermogenesis (Dulloo et al, 1999).

Green Tea Benefits for Heart Disease

There are many risk factors associated with heart disease, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol. In many of the above mentioned studies, these factors were also investigated. It has been found that along with weight loss, subjects given green tea also experienced reductions in blood pressure (Al-Dukaili et al, 2009) as well as decreasing total and bad LDL cholesterol, possibly be reducing cholesterol absorption (Al-Dukaili et al, 2009; Kim et al, 2011).

Green Tea Negatives and Side Effects

Green tea is well tolerated and often consumed in large quantities (over a litre a day) among millions of people worldwide. However, there are some things you should take note of. The most obvious one is caffeine. If you are sensitive to caffeine, it may be a good idea to avoid green tea products before bed. Some mild side effects have been reported in small groups of people from consuming large amounts of green tea (8 to 16 cups a day). These mainly relate to digestive complaints (Chow et al, 2003). It may help to reduce side effects if green tea is not consumed on an empty stomach. There have also been some reported cases of green tea interfering with the action of some anti-cancer drugs, and has also been recommended that pregnant women should avoid green tea. It is important to keep in mind that green tea extracts are more concentrated than the beverage. Therefore it is wise to remain within the product’s recommended dosage.

A recent study has shown that protein may actually inhibit the absorption of EGCG and other catechins in green tea (Egert et al, 2013). For this reason, it may be a good idea to separte green tea and protein from being consumed together if you wish to get the most out of your green tea. Given that high protein diets are common for bodybuilders and those wishing to burn fat, this may pose a challenge.

Green Tea Recommended Dosage and Ingredient Timing

Generally, studies performed into green tea looks at fairly concentrated doses. These range anywhere between 90 to 800 mg catechins. This equates to a lot of tea. Portions can be broken up and taken with meals, up to three times a day. It has recently been shown that catechins may be up to 3 times better absorbed when taken along side citric acid (lemon/organe juice), vitamin C, and xylitol (an artificial sweetener) (Shim et al, 2011)

Green Tea Supplements and What to Look for

Obviously, you can get green tea extract from drinking green tea. However, green tea supplements may be more practical and convenient for you. These can be found as a stand-alone supplement, or in fat burners and fat loss protein powders. There are a few things to take note of, firstly, the amount of catechin in the product is often not specified, and it is this ingredient that has all the beneficial effects. Furthermore, in fat loss mixtures, green tea is very rarely the sole ingredient. So you need to consider that although the concentration of catechins may be low, they are also working in conjunction with the cocktail of other weight loss ingredients in the product.

Stacking Green Tea Supplements

Green tea extracts go well together with other fat loss products like fat loss proteins and fat metabolisers. However, if you are already using a powerful thermogenic supplement, or a fat loss supplement with high amounts of green tea extract it may not be a good idea to stack that with a full strength green tea extract. Also, knowing the increased absorbablity of green tea in the presence of vitamin C and citric acid, taking the supplement with a vitamin C supplement or orange juice may be beneficial.

Al-Dukaili et al (2009), Effects of green tea consumption on blood pressure, total cholesterol, body weight and fat in healthy volunteers. Endocrine Abstracts, 20: 470
Chow et al (2003), Pharmacokinetics and Safety of Green Tea Polyphenols after Multiple-Dose Administration of Epigallocatechin Gallate and Polyphenon E in Healthy Individuals. Clin Cancer Res, 9: 3312-3319
Dulloo et al (1999), Efficacy of a green tea extract rich in catechin polyphenols and caffeine in increasing 24-h energy expenditure and fat oxidation in humans. Am J Clin Nutr, 70: 1040-1045
Kim et al (2011), Green Tea Catechins Decrease Total and Low-Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Journal of American Dietetic Association. 111: 1720-1729
Nagao et al (2005), Ingestion of a tea rich in catechins leads to a reduction in body fat and malondialdehyde-modified LDL in men. Am J Clinc Nutr, 81: 122-129
Shim et al (2011), Digestive stability and absorption of green tea polyphenols: Influence of acid and
xylitol addition. Food Research International, 45: 204-210
Venables et al (2008), Green tea extract ingestion, fat oxidation, and glucose tolerance in healthy humans. Am J Clinc Nutr. 87: 778-784