Food & Supplements

  • Top 5 Proven Weight Loss Ingredients

    Supplementing your fitness goals is no longer a unique privilege. In fact, you're a rarity if you aren't taking something for fat loss, energy, or muscle building. When it comes to weight loss, there are literally thousands of products to choose and this will understandably make you quite confused, frustrated, and overwhelmed. Let's take a look at the top 5 scientifically proven weight loss ingredients to help you make your decision easier.


    1. Caffeine


    We'll start the list with a fan favorite and easily the most used weight loss ingredient. Caffeine can be found in all pre-workout and thermogenic supplements. Not only will it boost your energy but it will also increase your body's fat burning potential.


    The way caffeine supports fat loss is through ensuring that stored fat deposits are used as a primary energy source and NOT your muscle glycogen stores. (1)



    1. Green Tea Extract


    Green tea has been supporting your overall health and wellness for thousands of years. Only within the last couple decades has science discovered the real benefits of green tea, ensuring it to become one of the most popular weight loss supplements.


    Green tea contains a special compound called epigallocatechin gallate or EGCG. This compound ensures the boost in your metabolism, thereby promoting a higher caloric burn. More calories burned gets you one step closer to achieving a caloric deficit for your weight loss. (1, 2)



    1. Cayenne Pepper Fruit Extract


    The same pepper that you put in your meals for the extra kick contains a special fat burning compound called Capsaicin. When you ingest Capsaicin, your body goes into overdrive, converting those stored fat deposits into usable energy. What's more, capsaicin also supports healthy digestion, healthy blood cholesterol levels, and fat burning. (3)



    1. African Mango


    If there's one ingredient that suddenly 'showed up' in all fat loss products across the industry, it's African Mango. Known as Irvingia Gabonensis, this compound encourages fat oxidation through boosting your metabolism and suppressing your appetite. It's also been shown to be effective at improving your cholesterol levels, making it an ideal supplement for those who are overweight with cardiovascular issues. (4)



    1. Synephrine HCL


    More commonly known as Bitter Orange Extract, this unique compound is found in nearly all fat loss supplements on the market. Why is it abundantly used?


    Studies have shown that Synephrine HCL provides you with several key weight loss benefits including blocking fat from being absorbed and stored. It helps to boost your body's metabolic response, resulting in MORE calories burned. It's also an effective appetite suppressant. (5)





    Despite the seemingly unlimited options you have, science can narrow down which ingredients to buy if you're trying to supplement your weight loss. All of these ingredients are simple to find, inexpensive to buy, and proven by science.




    1. Westerterp-Plantenga MS, Lejeune MP, Kovacs EM. Body weight loss and weight maintenance in relation to habitual caffeine intake and green tea supplementation. Obes Res. 2005 Jul;13(7):1195-204.


    1. Venables MC, Hulston CJ, Cox HR, Jeukendrup AE. Green tea extract ingestion, fat oxidation, and glucose tolerance in healthy humans. Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 Mar;87(3):778-84.


    1. Lejeune MP, Kovacs EM, Westerterp-Plantenga MS. Effect of capsaicin on substrate oxidation and weight maintenance after modest body-weight loss in human subjects. Br J Nutr. 2003 Sep;90(3):651-59.


    1. Judith L Ngondi, Julius E Oben,corresponding author1 and Samuel R Minka. The effect of Irvingia gabonensis seeds on body weight and blood lipids of obese subjects in Cameroon. Lipids Health Dis. 2005; 4: 12. Published online 2005 May 25.


    1. Stohs SJ, Preuss HG, Shara M. A review of the human clinical studies involving Citrus aurantium (bitter orange) extract and its primary protoalkaloid p-synephrine. Int J Med Sci. 2012;9(7):527-38. Epub 2012 Aug 29.
  • 4 Things You Must Know About BCAAs

    If you've ever walked into a supplement store or if you've ever browsed fitness websites, you have certainly seen the acronym 'BCAA'. Short for branched chain amino acids, BCAAs are one of the most important supplements you should be using if your goal is muscle building or weight loss. Let's take a look at the 4 things you need to know about BCAAs and why you should take them.


    1. BCAAs Come from Protein


    You sit down to a plate of chicken, brown rice, and broccoli. When you eat that piece of chicken, your body takes the protein and starts to break it down. It's trying to get to the thing that counts: amino acids. BCAAs come from protein-based sources. What's more, there are two types of amino acids: essential and non-essential. Your body can actually make non-essential amino acids from different vitamin, minerals, and other compounds. Essential amino acids must be ingested through whole foods or supplements.


    1. The Essential Amino Acids


    There are a total of nine essential amino acids.


    • Histidine
    • Lysine
    • Methionine
    • Phenylalanine
    • Threonine
    • Tryptophan
    • Isoleucine
    • Leucine
    • Valine


    Even though there are nine, only three are focused on for the purposes of fitness. When you're goals are muscle building and fat loss, the three essential amino acids to focus on are…


    • Isoleucine
    • Leucine
    • Valine



    1. The Benefits of Taking Amino Acids


    As mentioned above, amino acids are very important if you want to build solid lean muscle mass, support fat burning goals, or simply maintain your weight. Each of the amino acids supports one another in a large list of fitness related benefits including the following:


    • Promotes protein synthesis
    • Supports post-workout recovery
    • Helps to avoid muscle breakdown
    • Enhances fat oxidation
    • Promotes lean muscle tissue development
    • Boosts the immune system (1-4)


    1. The Best Sources of Amino Acids


    You always want to strive to reach your daily protein intake via whole foods. It is through eating whole foods that your body will respond the best to ingestion, digestion, and assimilation. Here are some of the best whole food sources for amino acids:


    • Eggs
    • Chicken
    • Salmon
    • Beef
    • Pumpkin seeds
    • Greek yogurt


    With that said, supplementation has come a long way and there are many excellent supplements with a high rate of bioavailability. You can purchase a whey protein or plant-based protein supplement but if you want to skip the middle man, just buy BCAAs directly. It saves your body the process of breaking down the protein.





    On par with whey protein, amino acids have cemented their importance in the world of health and fitness for years to come. Able to promote fat burning and muscle recovery, amino acids are easily one of the best supplements to invest in. Just remember that they are a supplement. You should be striving to get your dietary protein from whole food sources. A supplement is just that: supplementary.


    1. Mourier A, Bigard AX, de Kerviler E, Roger B, Legrand H, Guezennec CY. Combined effects of caloric restriction and branched-chain amino acid supplementation on body composition and exercise performance in elite wrestlers. Int J Sports Med. 1997 Jan;18(1):47-55.


    1. Blomstrand E, Eliasson J, Karlsson HK, Köhnke R. Branched-chain amino acids activate key enzymes in protein synthesis after physical exercise. J Nutr. 2006 Jan;136(1 Suppl):269S-73S.


    1. Negro M, Giardina S, Marzani B, Marzatico F. Branched-chain amino acid supplementation does not enhance athletic performance but affects muscle recovery and the immune system. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2008 Sep;48(3):347-51.


    1. Norton, Layne, Layman, Donald. Leucine Regulates Translation Initiation of Protein Synthesis in Skeletal Muscle after Exercise. J. Nutr. February 2006 vol. 136 no. 2 533S-537S.
  • Top 4 Pre-Workout Ingredients You MUST Have

    Pre-workout supplements are no longer a rare option. Any time you walk into the gym, you're sure to see someone downing a shaker full of pink or blue liquid. Not too long after, that person has a fierce look of determination on their face. Pre-workouts dominate the fitness market but not all of these supplements are made the same. Let's take a look at the top 4 pre-workout supplement ingredients that you need to have in your shaker.


    1. Alpha GPC


    The first ingredient that you should be looking for is Alpha GPC. As a pre-cursor to the neurotransmitter, Acetylcholine, it can help to increase your focus and put you in the zone during the workout. More importantly, Alpha GPC has been shown to increase your growth hormone levels. Why is that important? Growth hormone assists with muscle recovery and growth, which will promote your gains. (1)


    1. Betaine Anhydrous


    More commonly known as Betaine, this is more than just an amino acid. Betaine has been proven in several studies to be an effective way to improve your performance during workouts. In a study of cyclists supplementing with Betaine, it was only those who were taking the ingredient that saw marked improvements in overall power and athletic performance. (2)


    This ingredient is usually only found in supplements with a slightly higher price tag but we can assure you those few extra dollars make it worth it.


    1. Bioperine®


    As soon as the results of this ingredient's study were released, you saw it showing up in a variety of different supplements. The most notable type of supplement you find it in is pre-workouts. Bioperine® is the commercial name for black pepper extract. Does it have a direct influence on improving performance? No, BUT what it does do is amplify the bioavailability of the other ingredients.


    Your body won't always absorb and utilize ingredients like you want it to. That's where Bioperine® comes in. It's been shown to enhance the assimilation of other ingredients, ensuring your body does utilize those ingredients to the fullest extent. This is a great way to improve a cheap, low quality protein supplement as well. (3)


    1. Caffeine


    This shouldn't be a surprise as the primary reason people drink coffee is for the caffeine. This stimulant is one of the best ways to get focused and get serious during your workouts. Moderate caffeine use (in other words: don't overdo it) has been linked to a number of health benefits including the prevention of Alzheimer's but when it comes to fitness, it can't be beat.


    Caffeine has been tested time and time again and has always come on top as the best way to get energized for your workout. With that said, be wary of mega doses of caffeine in some of the new pre-workouts. (4)




    Next time you're shopping for that pre-workout supplement, be sure to carefully scan the label for Alpha GPC, Betaine Anhydrous, Bioperine®, and Caffeine. It's these four ingredients that will help put you in the zone to crush your workout and see results.




    1. Tim Ziegenfuss, Jamie Landis, and Jennifer Hofheins. Acute supplementation with alpha-glycerylphosphorylcholine augments growth hormone response to, and peak force production during, resistance exercise. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2008; 5(Suppl 1): P15. Published online 2008 Sep 17. doi: 10.1186/1550-2783-5-S1-P15.


    1. Pryor JL, Craig SA, Swensen T. Effect of betaine supplementation on cycling sprint performance. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2012 Apr 3;9(1):12. doi: 10.1186/1550-2783-9-12.


    1. Vladimir Badmaev, MD, PhD, Muhammed Majeed, PhD, Edward P. Norkus, PhD. Piperine, an alkaloid derived from black pepper increases serum response of beta-carotene during 14-days of oral beta-carotene supplementation. Nutrition Research. March 1999. Volume 19, Issue 3, Pages 381–388.


    1. Hogervorst E, Bandelow S, Schmitt J, Jentjens R, Oliveira M, Allgrove J, Carter T, Gleeson M. Caffeine improves physical and cognitive performance during exhaustive exercise. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2008 Oct;40(10):1841-51. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e31817bb8b7.
  • Want Muscle Size? Why You Need to Pair Creatine with Glutamine

    Supplementation is no longer considered a luxury option. Chances are that anyone you chat with in the gym is supplementing with something. When it comes to gaining muscle size, everyone knows that having a protein supplement is a requirement.


    What if you really want to ensure maximum size gains?

    What can you do that doesn't require breaking the law or endangering your body?

    The solution is simple, you pair up the two biggest names in the supplement industry to see real gains.


    Let's take a look at the benefits of creatine and glutamine and why they make the perfect supplement pair.


    Benefits of Creatine


    Your body naturally makes creatine but it's limited to about one gram per day. Creatine plays an important role in providing energy to muscle tissue. Stored within this tissue, it's released during high energy demands such as exercise. It's then converted to ATP and used as fuel to complete whatever energy demanding task you're doing.


    Creatine is also used for muscle recovery. Recent studies show that creatine was successful in reducing inflammation and muscle tissue damage post-workout. (1)


    Benefits of Glutamine


    The primary reason that glutamine is such a popular supplement is due to its ability to support muscle recovery, especially after intense workouts. Taken on a regular basis, subjects saw a decrease in post-workout inflammation and muscle damage. This benefit is extended on a hormonal level as glutamine is also used to prevent catabolic breakdown of protein in the body. In other words, it's a muscle sparing supplement. (2, 3)


    Why You Should Pair Them


    The name of the game is performance and recovery. You need to perform well if you want to achieve your fitness goals. This is especially true during high intensity workouts. If you're a bodybuilder, what good is it to throw in the towel halfway through your workout?


    More important than performing well is recovering well. Over training will put a stop to any fitness goal faster than you can imagine. The combination of providing your muscles with the fuel they need and the ability to reduce inflammation and support recovery is why these two industry giants need to be taken together.


    The Proper Way to Take Them


    Despite huge advancements in supplement technology, it's still recommended to perform a loading phase with creatine. The idea behind this is to completely saturate your muscles with 20 grams of creatine per day for 7 to 14 days. You could do 5 grams per day but that will take at least a full month to see the same results. It's best to take creatine following a workout when your body is primed to absorb it all.


    Glutamine can be taken at its normal 5 gram serving but if you are a serious bodybuilder or power lifter then you may want to consider 10 grams. It's best to take Glutamine on an empty stomach so do it as soon as you wake up.



    • 20 grams for 14 days
    • 5 grams after that
    • Take post-workout



    • 5 to 10 grams based on intensity
    • Take in the morning on an empty stomach




    Creatine and glutamine have been stand alone supplements for decades. There's a reason that they are still around and still the most purchased supplements on the market. They've been proven time and time again to be an effective way to fuel your muscles while aiding in recovery. If you want to see serious results, then you need to be adding these effective and inexpensive supplements to your diet program.




    1. Kreider RB. Effects of creatine supplementation on performance and training adaptations. Mol Cell Biochem. 2003 Feb;244(1-2):89-94.


    1. Piattoly, Tavis. L-glutamine supplementation: effects on recovery from Exercise. Louisiana State University and Agricultural and Mechanical College. (4 – 9) August 2005.


    1. Calder PC, Yaqoob P. Glutamine and the immune system. Amino Acids. 1999;17(3):227-41.
  • Men and Vitamin D: The Top 4 Benefits

    If you're like most guys, every time you open your Facebook account, you'll see your wall flooded by fitness websites telling you which supplements to take to make you more of a man. With thousands of supplements on the market, it can be a little overwhelming to figure out which one you should be taking on a daily basis. What's more, most of the supplements that are recommended are usually a specific brand that's being sponsored. Rarely do you find a sponsored supplement backed by studies and research.


    Guys, if you want a clear cut, scientifically proven supplement to take, look no further than Vitamin D. Let's review the top 4 reasons why you should be taking this vitamin every day.


    1. Immune System


    With the weather changing, there's no better time to start taking Vitamin D. Unlike Vitamin C, which springs up everywhere around this time, Vitamin D has been shown to boost your immune response. Here's how it works: There are specific cells in your body that combat illness. These special cells utilize Vitamin D to work efficiently. If you aren't getting enough Vitamin D through food, supplements, and the sun, you may see yourself getting sick more often. Taking a daily dose of Vitamin D may help to improve your immune response and defend your body from the common cold among other illnesses. (1)


    1. Testosterone


    For men, having a low testosterone level can be more than an inconvenience in the bedroom, it can negatively impact your health in a big way. Symptoms of low testosterone include losing muscle mass while gaining fat mass. You'll feel more irritable and go through mood swings. You'll start feeling tired more often. Arguably, the worst symptom is low libido and poor bedroom performance. Vitamin D supplementation has been shown to dramatically impact your testosterone levels in a positive way. (2)


    1. Mood


    Speaking of your mood, Vitamin D is an excellent mood booster. Have you ever noticed that you have more bad moods during the colder, winter months? Since it's so cold, you aren't going outside. Since you're not going outside, you aren't getting your daily rays of sunshine. Sunshine helps the body create Vitamin D. You need a healthy level of Vitamin D to stabilize your mood. Taking Vitamin D supplements has been shown to support your mood and mindset. (3)


    1. Muscle


    Last but not least, if you want to be ensuring your lean muscle tissue gains, then you need to be supplementing with Vitamin D. This important vitamin has been shown to support muscle building and fat loss. Studies show that those supplementing with Vitamin D demonstrated a higher level of muscle and a lower level of fat. If you're a guy who has the bodybuilding stage on his mind, remember that Vitamin D supports testosterone levels. Testosterone plays a critical role in building muscle mass. (4)




    It doesn't matter if you are a gym rat or you just want to avoid the worst of cold season, taking Vitamin D is a smart idea. It has been shown to support your testosterone levels, balance out your mood, beef up your immune system, and support lean muscle. Find a quality Vitamin D supplement and talk with your doctor if you're currently on any other medications.




    1. Holick MF. Vitamin D deficiency. N Engl J Med. 2007 Jul 19;357(3):266-81.


    1. Pilz S, Frisch S, Koertke H, Kuhn J, Dreier J, Obermayer-Pietsch B, Wehr E, Zittermann A. Effect of vitamin D supplementation on testosterone levels in men. Horm Metab Res. 2011 Mar;43(3):223-5. doi: 10.1055/s-0030-1269854. Epub 2010 Dec 10.


    1. Sue Penckofer, PhD, RN, Joanne Kouba, PhD, RD, Mary Byrn, BSN, RN, and Carol Estwing Ferrans, PhD, RN, FAAN. Vitamin D and Depression: Where is all the Sunshine? Issues Ment Health Nurs. 2010 Jun; 31(6): 385–393.


    1. Lars Rejnmark, PhD. Effects of Vitamin D on Muscle Function and Performance: A Review of Evidence from Randomized Controlled Trials. Ther Adv Chronic Dis. 2011 Jan; 2(1): 25–37.
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