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FitTips for One and All - Vol. II, No.4

FitTips for One and All
Volume II, Number 4

Presented by Fitness for One and All
Director: Gary F. Zeolla

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Descriptions of Supplements

by Gary F. Zeolla

This article provides descriptions of various supplements, given in alphabetical order. These are all supplements I am currently taking. It is my hope that my experiences with supplements will help the reader narrow down which supplement might be of benefit to you and how best to take them.

Creatine (Jarrow Formulas):
Creatine is one of the most researched sports supplements there is. And most of the research shows it is a safe and effective supplement for those engaging in sports requiring short bursts of high intensity muscle contractions, like the powerlifting I compete in.

During intensive exercise, the body first uses its muscular stores of ATP (andesine tri-phosphate). The ATP is converted into ADP (andesine di-phosphate). Once the stored ATP is depleted, the body utilizes stored creatine phosphate (CP) to reconverted the ADP into ATP. Once both ATP and CP are depleted, the exercise must stop long enough to allow the body to restore the ATP levels. But creatine supplementation  increases the stores of creatine phosphate (CP). So an exercise can be continued for a longer period (i.e. more reps can be done) and shorter rest times are required between sets.

Lots of companies make creatine, but I like Jarrow's product as it is pharmaceutical grade. This is the highest grade of supplement one can get. What this means is there are no impurities in it.

The importance of this was noted in a research study on creatine I read some time ago. It mentioned that in all the studies done on creatine, there were never any side effects noted. However, there have been anecdotal reports of side effects from creatine use. The researchers explained the apparent discrepancy by stating that the reported side effects outside of studies were probably due to impurities in the creatine the people were using. So it is highly advisable to stick with pharmaceutical grade creatine, like Jarrow's.

Creatine is best taking before, during, and/ or after a workout. I personally mix 5 grams in with my workout drink, which I sip throughout my workout and then finish what's left afterwards.

It is also best to take creatine with a high glycemic carbohydrate, like maltodextrin or dextrose. Such carbs increase insulin levels, which helps to drive the creatine not the muscles cells. It should be noted, that fruit juice is not as effective in this regard. I found this to be true.

At one time, I used orange juice in my post-workout drink, and I seemed to be dragging through my workouts. But after switching to maltodextrin, I found that I was able to go through my workouts faster. Less rest time was required between sets. So I believe my body was storing more creatine. Also, maltodextrin is better at replenishing glycogen stores that the fructose in fruit juice. And this was probably a factor as well. And I prefer maltodextrin to dextrose as the former is a complex carb, thus less likely to lead to fat storage, than the simple carb dextrose.

Glutamine (Jarrow Formulas):
Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in muscle cells. It is considered a semi-essential amino acid. What this means is, the human body can manufacture glutamine from other amino acids. However, during times of intense physical stress, like during periods of heavy training or due to various medical conditions or surgery, the body cannot keep up with sufficient production. So an outside source is needed.

Many powerlifters, bodybuilders, and other athletes have found benefit from supplementing with glutamine. Some of the reported benefits included improved recovery, a reduction of  post-workout soreness, an increase of human growth hormone levels, and a decrease in exercise-induced colds and flu. Personally, I have found it to be helpful for all of these.

I mix 5 grams of glutamine in my daily quart of my protein drink, which I drink in four divided doses during the day. I also mix 5 grams in my workout drink, which I sip throughout my workout and then finish what's left afterwards.

HMB (beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate):
HMB is a newer weightlifting supplements. It's reported benefits are to reduce the amount of muscle damage incurred during and after a workout and to reduce post-workout soreness. As a result, recovery times are supposed to be shortened and strength and muscular gains improved.

I have experimented some with HMB. And I have found that it definitely helps with post-workout soreness. And for me, this is not a minor issue. Due to my fibromyalgia, my post-workout soreness can be rather extreme, feeling more like flu-like achiness than more normal soreness. At times I especially feel achy and just plan awful the morning after a heavy workout. But the HMB significantly reduces these symptoms. However, I have not found that HMB improves recovery time or lifting progress.

But there are a couple problems with HMB. First, research has shown that it is not well absorbed. But some lifters, myself included, have found that absorption can be improved by taking it with protein and in several, small divided doses throughout the day. It also tends to have greater absorption during and post-workout.

The second problem with HMB is that it is very expensive. So I have experimented with various brands and forms of it. I have tried it in both capsule and powder form. And this is definitely one case where I have found that quality makes a big difference.

I first tried a pharmaceutical brand of capsules. With these, I took 500 mg with each of my first five meals each day, except 1000 mg post-workout (e.g. 2.5 grams on non-workout days, 3.0 grams on workout days). I then tried a cheaper powder. For it, I mixed it in with my daily protein drink and in my workout drink. But to get the same effect I needed to mix 3.5 grams in the protein drink, plus one gram in my workout drink (e.g. 3.5 grams on non-workout days, 4.5 grams on workout days).

I do want to continue to take the HMB. But due to the expense, I'm not sure if I will be able to or not. And as of this writing, I still have some of the HMB in powder form. But once I run out of it, I'm not sure exactly what brand I'll use or where I'll get it from. WebVitamins does carry one brand, Twinlab's HMB. But it a rather expensive compared to other brands I've seen, so I haven't tried it. But then, that might mean it is of higher quality.

K-Mg Aspartate:
I suffer from a condition called neurological "tics." These are minor, involuntary muscle movements that can be very irritating, and when they occur at night, can disturb sleep. Magnesium (Mg) is the most generally recommended mineral for this condition, but calcium (Ca) and potassium (K) can be important as well as all three of these minerals are involved in nerve transmission.

There are 500 mg of calcium, 250 mg of magnesium, and 99 mg of potassium in the multiple-vitamin mineral supplement I use, Jarrow's Multi- Easy Powder (see below). And for quite some time, that seemed to be enough to  control my tics. But in November 2003, they began flaring up again. So I tried taking H.I. Biolics' K-Mg Aspartate from WebVitamins. It contains 250 mg each of magnesium aspartate and potassium aspartate ( elemental K: 99 mg, Mg: 35 mg). And once I started taking two capsules a day, the tics were again under control.

However, WebVitamins no longer carries the H.I. Biolics or any other K-Mg Aspartate product. But had such a product. Its formulation is somewhat different than the H.I. Biolics product. The ImmuneSupport one has elemental K: 99 mg, Mg: 100 mg, with 682 mg of aspartic acid. I still have enough of the one from WebVitamins, so I haven't purchased the one from ImmuneSupport yet. But I would assume it would be just as effective, maybe more so since it actually has more elemental magnesium than the H.I. Biolics product.

Male Sexual Energy (Liddell):
This homeopathic spray contains testosterone, along with other ingredients designed to raise testosterone, HGH, and DHEA levels. The result of doing so would be to not just improve a man's sex drive and performance, but would also carry many other benefits. Among these would be the potential for increased muscle mass and strength, improved sleep, and increased energy levels. So don't let the name throw you. There are many potential benefits from this spray.

The instructions say to take this product by spraying it twice under the tongue, three times a day (first thing in the morning, in the afternoon, and at bedtime). One bottle contains a one month supply. Over the winter of 2003-2004, I used three bottles. And I noticed a definite increase in my sex drive, an improvement in sleep, and it seemed to be helping my powerlifting progress as well.. But thinking that something containing testosterone and that was designed to raise hormone levels should be cycled (i.e. taken for a period of time, then stopped for a period to time), I stopped taking it. But within a month, I noticed a loss in all areas of improvements.

I then called the company, and they told me there was no reason to cycle this spray. The reason usually given for cycling hormone raising products is that if they are taken indefinitely the body's own production of the hormones will diminish. Also, there is an increased risk of side-effects. But given the nature of homeopathy, neither of these is a problem. First, side-effects are usually non-existent with homeopathic remedies.

Second, the nature of this product is simply to induce the body to make more of its own hormones. It does not provide hormone precursors (like various "andro" products do). And even though it does contain actual testosterone, the amount is extremely, almost infinitesimally, small. To understand the principle here would require a discussion of homeopathy in general, which is beyond the scope of this article. But suffice it to say, I immediately went back on this spray and quickly noticed the improvements mentioned above. So I intend to stay on it indefinitely.

But I did make one change in dosage. I found that it worked even better if I used it both before and after my workouts. Since I workout in the afternoons, this necessitates taking an "extra" dose on my workout days. So I use four doses on workout days and three doses on non-workout days.

Another point to note, when I called the company, I asked them another question just to be sure on something. I compete in drug-free powerlifting. I wanted to be sure I was correct in thinking that the amount of testosterone in this product was so small that it would not show up in a drug test. And they assured me that this was the case. There was no chance I would test positive from using this product.

And finally, Liddell does make a Female Sexual Energy, which is also available from WebVitamins. I, of course, cannot comment personally on how well it works. But given the effectiveness of the Male Sexual Energy, I would assume the female version would be just as effective.

Multi Easy Powder (Jarrow Formulas):
For a discussion of this supplement and full label information, see Multi Easy Powder (Jarrow Formulas). Here, I will just say this is by far the best multiple vitamin/ mineral supplement I have found.

Tribulus Complex (Jarrow Formulas):
Tribulus is a herb that is purported to raise testosterone levels. It does so by increasing the body's levels of luteinizing hormone (LH). The LH then induces the body to produce more testosterone. Having experimented with Tribulus, I can say that it does seem to increase my sex drive and improve sleep. However, the effect is not as great as Liddell's Male Sexual Energy. But by "stacking" the two together, I have noticed an even greater improvement than with either individually.

Along with 500 mg of Tribulus, each tablet of this Jarrow product also contains the following:
Ashwagandha extract - 100 mg
Andrograph extract - 100 mg
Rhodiola extract - 50 mg
Green Tea extract - 50 mg

A discussion of each of these is beyond the cope of this article. I will simply say that each has a variety of purported benefits. The Rhodiola, for instance, is supposed to increase energy levels. I had tried taking a Rhodiola supplement previously, but it made made me drowsy during the day, even if I only took it at night. But that product contained 500 mg. I didn't think the 50 mg in the Tribulus complex would be a problem. But with taking four tablets a day (for a total of 200 mg of Rhodiola), I did end up with daytime drowsiness from it. So I switched to a Tribulus only product. But I am recommending the Tribulus Complex here as the "extra" ingredients might prove beneficial without side effects for the reader. But if not, then you might want to try a Tribulus only product.

As for amounts, the label on the Jarrow products recommend 1-2 tables per day. But 500-1000 mg of Tribulus is less than the 1000-3000 mg that I have seen recommended elsewhere. And I have found that 2000 mg, spread out over four servings works best for me. But the reader would have to experiment. Tribulus is also best taken with meals. So I take mine with breakfast, lunch, dinner, and my evening snack.

But whichever Tribulus product, one question that I have not been able to get a clear answer on is if Tribulus should be cycled. Some sources recommend cycling it, while others say it is not necessary. I even tried calling Jarrow, but the representative there could not give me a clear answer. But I will say that if it is cycled, the main recommendations I have seen is to take it for four weeks then off for two weeks, or to take it for five days then off for two days. Right now I'm taking it daily, but if I start cycling it, I'll will probably use the 5 days on, 2 days off method.

Vitamin C Powder (Jarrow Formulas):
Studies show that vitamin C helps to reduce exercise-induced oxidative damage from free radicals, to decrease post-workout soreness, and to decrease the  exercise-induced rise in cortisol.

Cortisol is a hormone that is released as part of the "flight or fight" syndrome. For short periods it can be beneficial in that helps to mobilize energy stores. However, if it remains elevated after the immediate period of "danger" it becomes a catabolic hormone, increasing muscle damage and fat storage. Moreover, cortisol and DHEA exist in a "see-saw" relationship. When the one goes up, the other goes down. So if cortisol levels remain elevated, DHEA levels are depressed. And, unfortunately, in a lot of cases, cortisol can remain elevated for extended periods after an intense workout.

There's 500 mg of vitamin C in Jarrow's Multi-Easy. But I have found additional vitamin C to be beneficial, especially when I include it in my workout drink. And this Jarrow product is the ideal product to use for this purpose.

First off, as with most other Jarrow products, it is pharmaceutical grade. Second, as a powder, it is easy to mix into my workout drink. And third, it is very inexpensive. An 8 ounce bottle contains 227 servings (1/4 tsp., 1 gram). I use one serving in my workout drink. Again, I sip the workout drink during my workout, and finish what's left afterwards. And I've found the vitamin C significantly reduces post-workout soreness and fatigue.

Zinc Balance (Jarrow Formulas):
Even though the Multi Easy contains 15 mg of zinc, 100% of the DV, with my powerlifting training, I believe I need than this. So I also take one Jarrow's Zinc Balance every day. This product contains 15 mg of zinc (in the form of zinc monomethionate) and 1 mg copper (in the form of copper gluconate).

Copper is included in this product as taking zinc without copper can lead to a copper deficiency. The Multi Easy also contains 1 mg copper. So I'm getting a total of 2 mg a day. This is more than the current RDA for adult men of 900 mcg, but with taking more than the RDA for zinc it is wise to also take "extra" copper.

I found that by taking this product along with the K-MG Aspartate in the evening I sleep better at night. And these two supplements together basically give the equivalent of the popular bodybuilding supplement ZMA.

ZMA contains zinc in the form of  zinc monomethionate and magnesium in the form of magnesium aspartate. One of the main benefits lifters report from ZMA is that it helps them sleep better at night. It is also purported to raise testosterone levels. However, ZMA tends to be rather expensive. But one can get the same ingredients for much less by combining  K-MG Aspartate and the Zinc Balance.


Director's Notice/
New on Fitness for One and All

I know I promised that this issue of FitTips for One and All would contain the third part of the series on the "Basics of a Healthy Diet." But I had been very busy finishing up a project for my Darkness to Light Web site. Then I spent time redesigning the section on supplements on Fitness for One and All. The section on Supplements has been expanded to a subweb on the site. So I decided to include in this issue the above article. It is taken from a new section I am working on for the new Supplements subweb.

I plan on adding many more supplement descriptions in the future. These will include not just ones that I am currently taking and/ or have found to be beneficial, but also ones that I found to be worthless or even to cause negative side effects. Due to my health problems and my powerlifting training, I have spent much time researching and experimenting with a wide variety of supplements. And frankly, I have wasted lots of time  and money over the years. But, as mentioned at the beginning of the above article, it is hoped that my experiences will help the reader to narrow down which supplements might be of benefit to you and how best to take them, and thus save you time and money in the process.

That said, I hope to continue the series on the "Basics of a Healthy Diet" in a future issue of FitTips. But until then, below are the new items on the Web site.

Weightlifting Discussion Board Posts for 4/4/04 is a new page.

Supplements Research Sites is a new Recommended Internet Sites page.

Training Routine and Low Reps Cycle (2/6/04 - 4/17/04) has been completed with all of my workouts for this ten-week routine.

Training Routine and Drop Reps Cycle (4/19/04 - 7/9/04) is the new ten-week routine I will be using leading up to my competing at the World Championships for the International Powerlifting Association on July 9th.

Current Supplements has been updated.

Also by Gary F. Zeolla:
Darkness to Light Web site and Darkness to Light newsletter.
Christian Theology, Apologetics, Cults, Ethics, Bible Versions, and much more!


Disclaimer: The material presented in this newsletter is intended for educational purposes only. The director, Gary F. Zeolla, is not offering medical or legal advice. Accuracy of information is attempted but not guaranteed. Before undertaking any medical treatments or diet, exercise, or health improvement programs, consult your doctor. The director is in no way responsible or liable for any bodily harm, physical, mental, or emotional, that results from following any of the advice on this newsletter.

All material in this newsletter is copyrighted 2004 by Gary F. Zeolla.