- 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:
Electrolytes are minerals (e.g., sodium, chloride, calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphate, etc.) that break down into small, electrically-charged ions when dissolved in water. The electrolytes within your body are located in your blood and cells and are necessary to regulate fluid passage through the cell membranes. For example, sodium and chloride help to maintain your blood pressure level by regulating fluid balance within your blood. Sodium and chloride also support muscle and nerve function. Other electrolytes include calcium and magnesium which aid in muscle contraction and nerve impulses. Potassium and phosphate help to regulate energy, muscle contraction and pH balance. Here are some of the benefits of electrolytes:
Many factors determine your electrolyte level including gender, body size, exercise intensity, environment, exercise duration, etc. Males tend to sweat more than females and therefore experience sodium losses at a much greater degree. Large-frame people need more sodium than smaller people due to an increased sweat rate. High-intensity exercise certainly speeds the depletion of electrolytes more than low-intensity exercise. A hot, humid environment will definitely impact mineral losses more than a cool, dry environment. The longer your exercise duration, the more likely you'll become depleted in essential minerals. The recommendation is to drink a sports drink during and after a workout that lasts more than 90 minutes.
There is a huge market for sports drinks but many contain way too much sugar which adds unnecessary calories. A relatively high rehydration solution concentration may slow gastric emptying, causing stomach upset. Instead, opt for drinks that have six to eight percent carbs per eight ounces and about 120 to 170 mg of sodium. Gatorade fits the bill, supplying the essential electrolytes with minimal sugar.
This particular blog does NOT pertain to middle-aged men or older who may require testosterone supplementation due to low blood levels of the hormone. It is well known that natural testosterone levels decrease with age. Rather, I want to focus on the worrisome trend of young men in their twenties and thirties opting for testosterone supplementation. Why should this be of concern? Because in most cases these young men do NOT need testosterone supplementation.
The real issue is the supplement industry marketing test supplement products as anabolic boosters (remnants of "energy" supps come to mind for those who feel they need an energy boost) as the means to build muscle mass. My question is why take any supplemental testosterone when there's no clinical evidence that you're deficient in this hormone. Have you taken a blood test to verify that your testosterone level is low? If not, then why would you consider taking a supplement that has unwanted side effects? It makes no sense to me.
More concerning is the possibility that your natural test levels will be compromised from taking the supps and as a result, testicular shrinkage may occur (your testicles produce most of the testosterone in your body). You might as well inject yourself with steroids while you're at it. Do you see my point? Taking artificial hormones is not something to be trifled with as the side effects can be very undesirable. In other words, the risks will undoubtedly outweigh the benefits. Let me count the ways: infertility due to low sperm count, liver problems, male breast growth, increased male pattern baldness, possible harm to prostate health, increased risk of blood clots, congestive heart failure, and worsening of urinary symptoms (JAMA Internal Medicine, 2013).
There are legitimate reasons for low T. Lifestyle is primarily the reason why many men are low in test. Regular exercise is known to boost test along with having enough saturated fat (i.e., lean red meat, egg yolks, etc.) and certain micronutrients (e.g., zinc, magnesium, etc.) within the diet. Endurance training (e.g., marathon running) can compromise test levels as well as overtraining (i.e., high intensity level, lack of recovery time, etc.). Lack of sleep, daily stress, medication usage, as well as overindulgence in alcohol may also lower testosterone levels.
BOTTOM LINE: Testosterone supplements are being oversold to consumers who, for the most part, should NOT be taking them. Simply exercising will boost your natural testosterone level. So instead of relying on potentially dangerous supplements, you should get adequate exercise, eat healthier foods, reduce medication usage if possible, and lose bodyweight (there is a correlation between obesity and lower testosterone levels in men).
The following are considered the most recommended supplements to help you lower your cholesterol levels:
The following are considered not as effective as the above supplements but may help to lower cholesterol levels:
Your lifestyle is the predominant factor affecting your hormone levels. In other words, if you live a mostly sedentary existence, your testosterone level will most likely be lower than someone who exercises regularly. Thus, exercise is a natural way to boost your testosterone level.
Here are some lifestyle-related factors that affect your testosterone level:
Solution: Get 6 to 8 hours of sleep per night.
Solution: Maintain a healthy bodyweight. See elsewhere within this blog for tips.
Solution: Become more active by walking briskly at least 20 minutes daily and performing some strength training exercises 2 to 3 days per week.
Solution: Reduce your work hours to less than 10 hours daily and spend at least 2 hours daily doing something you like (e.g., reading, listening to music, playing games, etc.).
A study done with older, obese adults has found that whey protein containing essential amino acids may reduce body fat. The whey protein with essential amino acids may enhance muscle synthesis which, in turn, can enhance fat loss. The reason for this is that muscle tissue is more metabolically active than fat tissue. What's interesting about this study is that muscle biopsies were taken in order to clinically determine that lean body mass (i.e., muscle ) had increased. When lean body mass increases, body fat tends to decrease. As a result, body composition becomes more favorable with less percentage body fat. The authors of this study proposed that the results obtained with older, obese adults may also be obtained with younger adults.
It seems almost every day new research is attesting to another physiological benefit of taking fish oil (i.e., protects against heart disease, diabetes, certain cancers, reduces joint inflammation, reduces cholesterol levels, increases metabolic rate, reduces fat mass, increases lean body mass, improves mood, etc.). It's the omega-3 fatty acids within fish oil that makes it so remarkable.
Recent research published in the journal Neurology has just noted that eating fatty fish, nuts, and other foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids regularly may slow down the aging process of the brain and possibly protect against Alzheimer's disease. Research has discovered that a regular intake of omega-3 fatty acids in one's diet may cause a corresponding decrease in the amount of a protein called beta-amyloid commonly found in the brains of people who've died from Alzheimer's disease. It may be the increased amounts of this protein that's attributed to the memory loss exhibited by those who suffer from Alzheimer's disease. Good sources of omega-3 fatty acids can be found in walnuts, salmon, sardines, tuna, and other fatty fish.
Bottom line: a diet containing healthy fats including fish oil may have an effect in decreasing the loss of memory, reducing heart disease, reducing cholesterol levels as well as lessening joint inflammation.
Just as an example, I will provide the current meal plan that I've been eating for awhile that has supported the maintenance of my hard-earned muscle mass. It comprises about 55% carbs, 20% protein and 25% fat and is about 4200 kcals--ideal for my bodyweight and metabolism.
--Whey protein powder (1 scp)
--Glutamine (1/2 tsp)
--Creatine Monohydrate (5g)
--2 frozen banana chunks
--Frozen blueberries (2 oz)
--Scudders smooth peanut butter (1 tbsp)
--Medium-Chain Triglycerides (MCT's) (1 scp)
--Raisins (2 oz)
--Creatine Monohydrate (5g)
--MCT's (1/2 scp)
--Maltodextrin (1 scp)
--Creatine Monohydrate (5g)
--Maltodextrin (1 scp)
--Whey protein (1 scp)
--Casein protein (1 scp)
--2 Banana chunks
--Whole milk (1 oz)
--Swiss cheese (2 oz)
--Black beans (4 oz)
--Casein protein powder (1 scp)
--MCT's (1 scp)
--2 frozen banana chunks
"Energy" drinks lend their jolt from the same ingredient as coffee: namely caffeine (note: the quotes are inserted here because the feeling of energy when imbibing these drinks is largely attributed to the abundant amounts of caffeine within, not just carbs). It certainly is a phenomenon why these ubiquitous beverages are so popular, especially among the youngsters. The answer may not be so complicated. College-age people seem to prefer these drinks because they're convenient, relatively inexpensive, and provide the "lift" needed in order to function while burning the midnight oil.
"Energy" drinks by their very nature are not necessarily bad for one's health when consumed in moderation just like coffee. Health problems may occur though when one gulps these beverages as if they were drinking soda. Monster Energy, for example, is available in a 16-ounce can which contains about two servings of caffeine (160mg) compared to a cup of coffee (80 to 100mg). Most who drink beverages like Monster Energy drink the whole volume within a can. Many who drink "energy" drinks claim they "need" the extra caffeine because coffee just doesn't provide the needed kick anymore. This is worrisome because like any drug, caffeine can become addictive in that the human body builds a tolerance to the effects and "thinks" it needs more in order to function properly.
The reality is the effects on the human body due to long-term consumption of "energy" drinks is not well known. The claims found on the labels such as
high-vitamin doses increase concentration are unproven. It is not well-understood and the data is mixed on how the other stimulants apart from caffeine affect the human body.
The real concern is that people who drink "energy" drinks regularly tend to do so without moderation. Unlike coffee, which does not have inherent calories unless you add milk or sugar, "energy" drinks contain a lot of sugar and therefore a lot of calories. Just like soda, the calories within these drinks can really add up when consuming a Monster drink every day. The result: inevitable bodyweight/bodyfat gain if no exercise is involved.
Some people should stay away from "energy" drinks. Those who are hypertensive or have heart disease should be wary of consuming products containing high amounts of caffeine. These "energy" drinks can induce an increase in blood pressure and pulse rate in healthy people who drink two "energy" drinks daily.
Bottom line: If you like "energy" drinks and can drink in moderation (e.g., no more than two cans daily), then enjoy. Otherwise, coffee and/or tea is better if you like the stimulant effects of caffeine in the morning or before a workout. Coffee is also a good source of water (99.5%). Current research has dispelled the myth that coffee has significant diuretic effects on the body. Rather, coffee has very little diuretic effect when consumed in ordinary amounts and hydrates just as well as plain water.