- Whey and casein protein--adequate protein is absolutely needed by your body to maintain muscle mass
- Fish oil--anti-inflammatory properties
- Multivitamin and/or multimineral--complementary to your diet and as insurance for good nutrition
- Workout drink (e.g., protein plus carbs, BCAAs)--supports muscle strength and size as well as fat loss and performance
- r-alpha lipoic acid--increases insulin sensitivity
- Tyrosine--may reduce central nervous system (CNS) fatigue
- Caffeine--increases CNS output
- Sodium bicarbonate--increases blood pH by buffering hydrogen ion buildup to lessen lactic acid burn
- Beta alanine--enhances workout recovery
- Creatine--increases ATP amount for quick energy and strength
- Green tea extract containing EGCG--increases metabolic rate during weight loss
- CLA--increases metabolic rate during weight loss
- Valerian root--may increase sleep quality
- PS--may increase sleep quality
What are some of the most recommended supplements you should take to support a particular fitness goal or when you're deficient in certain micronutrients?
The following is a listing beginning with the more essential supplements:
So far there is no scientific evidence to substantiate the marketing claims made by the manufacturers of energy drinks. The proprietary formulas which contain ingredients such as taurine and vitamins B6 and B12 have NOT been proven to increase energy. The boost in mental and physical performance obtained from drinking energy drinks is mainly due to the stimulant effects of caffeine and nothing else. Caffeine is well-known as a drug which increases alertness, reaction time, physical endurance and may improve athletic performance. But the manufacturers of "energy drinks" continue to market their products with special ingredients that give you energy. The claims are unfounded and are essentially a way for them to sell caffeinated products at increased cost to the consumer.
BOTTOM LINE: "Energy drinks" will provide a mental and physical performance edge, but it's not due any special ingredients. You can get the same benefits from simply drinking coffee. Save your money.
Lately the media has been reporting that "energy" drinks such as 5-Hour Energy shots and Monster Energy may be attributed to several deaths. In all likelihood the deaths were probably due to massive intakes of these stimulant drinks. The primary ingredient responsible for the stimulant effect is of course caffeine. A bottle of 5-Hour Energy may contain more than twice the amount of caffeine found within a cup of coffee. Consumer Reports has stated that up to 400mg of caffeine daily is safe for healthy adults. High doses of caffeine can cause symptoms such as restlessness, nervousness, insomnia, and tremors. Excessively high doses can trigger seizures and an unstable heart rhythm.
With so many people drinking these beverages, you'd think a lot more people would be dying. Certainly, many have reported feeling ill after drinking these products. Any product consumed in inordinate amounts can adversely affect your health. Common sense is needed. The products in question here will not likely be taken off the market because injuries are not likely to occur when the product is consumed per the label recommendation. The manufacturer of 5-Hour Energy recommends not to drink more than two bottles per day spaced several hours apart. Those who've never tried this product should drink only half a bottle and wait 10 minutes before drinking the rest. Those sensitive to the effects of caffeine should consult their doctor before drinking "energy" drinks.
"Energy" drinks are not going away anytime soon since the demand is large for these products. Unfortunately the people who usually drink "energy" beverages are the ones who tend to be sedentary and feel they need a boost of energy. The boost of energy from imbibing these drinks is short-lasting whereas the energy resulting from exercise lasts much longer and is the better alternative. Best of all: exercise costs nothing! Keep in mind that these drinks are not an alternative to rest or sleep. Forcing your body to stay alert when it requires sleep is certainly not healthy.
Research has shown there is evidence that refined or processed carbohydrates (characterized by large sugar content) seem to create a drug-like effect within the brain, thus causing addictive qualities mimicking alcohol addiction. In essence, food behaves like a drug in terms of how it affects the brain, psychologically as well as physiologically. This is not really news for most of us. We know certain foods have addictive qualities (think potato chips and ice cream). The human body loves fat, sugar and salt. Why? Because fat is a macronutrient which is a slow-burning, long-term source of energy for the body needed for survival when food is scarce. Because sugar is a macronutrient (carbs) which is a fast-burning, short-term source of energy needed by the body. Because salt consists of electrolytes (i.e., sodium and chloride) needed by the body for cellular pH balance.
Excessive sugar intake may be addicting physiologically as well as psychologically. To wit, sugar affects the dopamine receptors within the brain, making us feel good. Sodas are an excellent example of sugar addiction since they are a concentrated source of energy within many people's diets. Many become addicted to soda and need their daily fix or else experience withdrawal symptoms such as irritability, anxiety and depression.
The caffeine within coffee, like sugar, has a drug-like effect within the brain which makes us feel good. We know that caffeine is a drug because it stimulates the dopamine receptors which mediate pleasure. (Now we know why people flock to Starbucks every day--it's to get their drug fix). If their is a down-regulation of dopamine within the brain, one will feel a need to get more sugar and more caffeine in order to satisfy the urge to obtain the same pleasure. Indeed, research has indicated that overweight and obese people seem to have this down-regulation of dopamine which lends itself to an increasing need for more sugar. Since sugar contains calories, it makes sense that a chronic sugar addiction may cause one to become overweight or obese.
If sugar, caffeine, fat, and salt have addictive-like effects on the brain, then does that mean all foods having these substances are inherently bad for the body? The answer is no. The natural sugar found within fruits is not nearly as concentrated as the sugar found within refined foods made in the lab (think high-fructose corn syrup). Fats and salts are added to chips to make them more tasty and addictive but potatoes are inherently not unhealthy.
Sugars, fats and salt are added to foods to make them more sweet, have more mouth feel (thicker texture), and more salty because the body and the brain loves these ingredients. It's simple: our brains are hard-wired to eat carb-rich, fat-laden foods because the body needs sugar and fat to survive. Regularly eating foods which have unnatural concentrations of sugars, fats, and salts (as well as man-made chemicals) may indeed turn us into junkies. Yes, fast-food is addictive because it contains plenty of sugars, fats and salt to satisfy the palate. The regular consumption of fast food may indeed produce long-term neuroadaptations within the brain reward and stress pathways. Restricting fast-food and/or excessive sugar consumption may cause a withdrawal effect within the brain causing depression and anxiety.
If refined carbs behave like a drug within the brain, can psychological therapy resolve one's addiction to chips or ice cream, thus staving off bodyweight gain as a result of fat retention? Theoretically, this may be the case. But there are easier ways to lessen the addiction to chips and/or ice cream:
Coffee is one of the most consumed beverages worldwide so it's really not at all that surprising that researchers have been studying its effects on the human body. As such, much information has been discovered regarding coffee's benefits and possible negative effects.
The Pros of Coffee Consumption:
* Type-2 diabetes
* Some cancers (e.g., oral, colon, skin, esophageal, pharyngeal, breast, prostate)
* Asthma attacks
* Heart rhythm problems
* Liver cirrhosis
The Cons of Coffee Consumption:
For your information, the following is the average caffeine content per cup (in mg):
The benefits of caffeine are numerous in regard to your workouts. Caffeine can lessen reaction time, increase mental alertness and improve mood. Taking caffeine prior to a workout can increase endurance, allowing for more reps, sets and longer sessions. This increase in volume can lead to larger muscles in the long run. Caffeine's effect on the body is via the central nervous system (CNS), causing an increase in your pain threshold. End result: it becomes easier for you to push through those extra reps, extra sets, and extra cardio intervals.
Caffeine may also increase muscle strength due to those extra reps performed. Another benefit of caffeine is its characteristic of increasing lipolysis, or fat breakdown. The fat can serve as a much needed fuel source during hard training, allowing for more calories to be burned. Caffeine taken post-workout can increase glucose uptake from the blood into your muscles. This means your muscles can recover faster and glycogen recovery in enhanced. An increase of glycogen into your muscles enhances muscle size due to its hydrophilic (water-pulling) effect.
More is not better when it comes to caffeine intake. Overindulging in caffeine can cause insomnia, overexcitabilty, restlessness, muscle twitching, etc. If you experience any of these symptoms, level off the amount consumed. In this case, less can actually be more--smaller amounts may be more effective in promoting increased endurance, strength and muscle mass. You need to consume an amount relative to your bodyweight (i.e., 3-6 mg per kg bodyweight) at the right times (i.e., pre-workout, post-workout). The full effect of caffeine can last 2-3 hours and diminishes within 12 hours. Caffeine in liquid form (e.g., coffee, energy drinks) will be absorbed within the body faster than in pill form.
There are commonly-held beliefs regarding caffeine that are myths:
MYTH: CAFFEINE CAN SOBER YOU UP
Caffeine does not sober you up but rather makes you become an alert drunk.
MYTH: CAFFEINE MAKES YOU DEHYDRATED
The reality is that caffeine does have a mild dehydrating effect within the kidneys but the increased urination is mostly caused by increased fluid intake.
MYTH: CAFFEINE IS ADDICTIVE
Caffeine is not addictive in and of itself--rather it's the morning ritual of drinking coffee that makes it seem addictive. Nevertheless, caffeine is a drug which, when taken in large amounts and then stopped, can cause withdrawal symptoms such as headaches and irritability.