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Supplements

  • All you need to know about Carnitine

    There are so many different supplements available on the market these days that it can be hard to know where to start.

    I mean, with new options appearing almost daily, the industry has become saturated with compounds that don't actually have a whole lot of research to support their use -- which is why we pride ourselves on providing high-quality information on evidence backed supplements that actually work.

    Supplements like carnitine, for example.

    What is Carnitine?

    Carnitine is a specific type of nutrient that plays a very important role in the human body. In this manner, it helps in the production of energy by transporting fatty acids into the mitochondria of your cells.

    You can think of your mitochondria as the engines within your cells. They burn fatty acids to create usable energy for muscle contractions and cellular processes.

    It is important to note that your body actually has the capacity to produce carnitine using the amino acids “lysine” and “methionine”. However, for your body to successfully make carnitine in sufficient amounts, you also need to have adequate Vitamin C available.

    Moreover, you can also obtain small amounts of carnitine by eating animal products like meat or fish. Although you should be aware that most people don't actually consume enough carnitine or Vitamin C on a daily basis to maximise its availability -- which can lead to naturally lower levels of carnitine in the body.

    It is for this reason that supplementing with carnitine can be so effective.

    This is especially important for Vegans or people who follow a meat free diet, as it can further impact upon their natural carnitine levels.

    Types of Carnitine

    When we talk about carnitine, we are most often talking about the specific compound “L-carnitine”, which is the standard biologically active form of carnitine found in your body and in the food you eat.

    Here are three other types of carnitine that you should be aware of:

    • D-carnitine: is an inactive form of carnitine that may actually lead to the onset of a carnitine deficiency in your body by blunting the absorption of other forms of carnitine
    • Acetyl-L-carnitine: is a form of carnitine that appears to be particularly effective in the cells of your brain
    • Propionyl-L-carnitine: is a form that appears to be well-suited for circulatory issues, such as peripheral vascular disease and high blood pressure
    • L-carnitine L-tartrate: is the form of carnitine most commonly added to sports supplements due to its rapid absorption rate.

    When it comes to supplementation, both Acetyl-L-carnitine and L-carnitine appear to be the most well-absorbed, and by extension, the most effective.

    What are the Benefits of Carnitine?

    Given that carnitine plays a number of very important roles in the human body, it should stand to reason that its supplementation can offer a number of unique benefits -- which is very much the case when you take a look at the research.

    1.   Carnitine improves fat loss

    As we have already discussed in detail, carnitine plays an integral role helping transport fatty acids into the cells of your mitochondria, which ultimately allows them to be broken down for usable energy.

    This means that supplementing with Carnitine can actually increase the rate at which you break down fatty tissue for energy, while simultaneously increasing the amount of fat you use to create energy [1].

    This can lead to a greater proportion of the energy you burn every day coming from fat, which over time, can increase fat loss.

    Now, the caveat here is that for you to actually lose weight, you still need to be in a sustained energy deficit over weeks or months, which can only be created through diet and exercise.

    However, carnitine can make getting into a deficit easier.

    2.   Carnitine boosts brain function

    Interestingly, carnitine may also offer some potent benefits to brain function [2].

    A large body of research in animals has shown that the supplementation of L-carnitine can help prevent age-related declines in mental function, while simultaneously enhancing various markers of learning.

    More importantly, human studies indicate that taking acetyl-L-carnitine can actually reverse the decline in brain function associated with numerous brain diseases, while simultaneously improving many of the cognitive functions related to attention and memory.

    While this may not seem like a huge deal for those of you whose main goal is to get as swole as possible, I firmly believe that it does offer some benefit by increasing your focus in the gym.

    This could conceivably improve performance, leading to better gains.

    3.   Carnitine helps your heart

    Carnitine has also been shown to elicit a vasodilation effect in the human body, which means it makes your veins and arteries relax and widen. This facilitates blood flow throughout your body, essentially reducing how hard your heart is required to work.

    With this in mind, supplementing with carnitine has been shown to cause reductions in blood pressure, and even prevent many of the inflammatory markers that are thought to contribute to heart disease [3].

    Again, while this may not get you jacked in the short term, it is going to go a very long way to keep you training all the way into your nineties -- which can only be a good thing.

    4.   Carnitine enhances exercise performance and recovery

    Lastly, the long term supplementation of carnitine appears to impact exercise performance and recovery.

    By improving fat metabolism, carnitine appears to have an impact on your body's energy production efficiency. This alone can have a net positive effect on your exercise performance by improving the amount of energy you have available to produce muscle contractions.

    Moreover, by increasing blood flow to the working muscle tissue, carnitine can enhance the movement of oxygen to your muscle cells. This also leads to improvements in exercise performance, which over time, can translate to better training progress [4].

    And importantly, this increase in blood flow also has an impact on recovery [5].

    By increasing blood flow to your muscles after you finish training, carnitine can facilitate the transportation of essential nutrients into your muscle cells. This can speed up the recovery process, reducing muscle soreness, and getting you ready to train at your best again faster.

    Talk about a win-win.

    Is Carnitine Safe?

    As carnitine is simply an amino acid found within the human body, its supplementation appears to be very safe.

    In fact, in a recent study, people who took 3 grams every day for 21 days experienced no negative effects at all [6] -- suggesting that it is extremely well tolerated in moderate to higher dosages.

    It is important to note that in a very small subset of the population carnitine has been reported to cause a couple of side effects, including:

    • Stomach discomfort
    • Vomiting
    • Diarrhea
    • A fishy body odor
    • Abdominal cramps
    • Feelings of nausea

    Some people also suggest that the supplementation of high doses of carnitine without breaks over years may increase your risk of developing plaque buildup on your arteries, which would contribute to heart disease -- however, more research is needed to prove that is the case.

    As always, if you are interested in supplementing with carnitine, we would recommend you seek advice from a medical professional first -- just in case.

    Summary

    Carnitine is a potent supplement that can aid in fat loss, boost mental performance, improve the health of your heart, increase exercise performance, and even enhance recovery after exercise -- all of which can lead to better gains.

    This makes it a great choice, and one of the most well researched options on the market.

     

    References

    1. Pekala, Jolanta, et al. "L-carnitine-metabolic functions and meaning in humans life." Current drug metabolism 12.7 (2011): 667-678.
    2. Badrasawi, Manal, et al. "Efficacy of L-carnitine supplementation on frailty status and its biomarkers, nutritional status, and physical and cognitive function among prefrail older adults: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial." Clinical interventions in aging 11 (2016): 1675.
    3. Adeva?Andany, María M., et al. "Significance of l?carnitine for human health." IUBMB life 69.8 (2017): 578-594.
    4. Brass, Eric P. "Supplemental carnitine and exercise." The American journal of clinical nutrition 72.2 (2000): 618S-623S.
    5. Huang, Amy, and Kevin Owen. "Role of supplementary L-carnitine in exercise and exercise recovery." Acute Topics in Sport Nutrition. Vol. 59. Karger Publishers, 2012. 135-142.
    6. Rubin, Martyn R., et al. "Safety measures of L-carnitine L-tartrate supplementation in healthy men." Journal of strength and conditioning research 15.4 (2001): 486-490.
  • What is Citrulline Malate?

    There are a few supplements in the health and fitness industry that have stood the test of time. Supplements that are commonplace amongst top level bodybuilders, weekend warriors, and regular gym goers alike.

    And Citrulline malate is one of them.

    But what is it, and what does it do?

    Citrulline Malate

    Citrulline is a specific type of amino acid found in the human body that also appears naturally in a variety of fruits and vegetables, including watermelon, squash, cucumber, pumpkin, rockmelon, and honeydew melon.

    As an amino acid, citrulline is considered to be “nonessential” because your body actually has the capacity to produce some of its own.

    However, your body's ability to make citrulline is predicated on having adequate nutrients available to facilitate its production. With this in mind, there is a growing body of evidence to suggest that supplementing with additional citrulline can offer a number of unique benefits.

    Which is where citrulline malate enters the equation -- in which it describes a type of citrulline supplement that is easily digested into the human body.

    What does citrulline do?

    Citrulline is an important amino acid that plays a number of different roles in the human body.

    It is most well known for its role in the “urea cycle”, which is the process by which your body eliminates numerous harmful compounds. As a result, citrulline is integral to keeping your body healthy and toxin free.

    Moreover, citrulline can also help dilate your blood vessels, which increase blood flow, and may even enhance exercise performance and aid in the development of new muscle tissue -- which leads us to our next section quite nicely.

    Citrulline malate benefits

    As I have already alluded to, Citrulline malate is simply a supplement form of citrulline. This means that it offers a great way to increase the amount of citrulline in your body beyond what it would normally produce.

    And this can have some serious benefits.

    1.   Better Gym Performance

    Citrulline is a vasodilator -- which means it helps relax and widen your blood vessels. This can increase blood flow throughout your body and to your muscle tissue, enhancing the delivery of oxygen and nutrients.

    With this in mind, several studies have clearly demonstrated that citrulline malate can improve weight training performance. It appears to do this by increasing the number of repetitions you can perform at a given workload [1].

    For example, without taking citrulline malate you might be able to bench press three sets of ten reps at 100kgs. Then with citrulline malate, you might be able to perform three sets of twelve reps using 100kgs.

    While being able to lift more is obviously cool, its benefits extend far beyond that.

    Increasing the number of reps you perform within your training session causes a subsequent increase in training volume. Over time, this can lead to marked improvements in muscle growth and muscle strength.

    All of which means that citrulline malate could be one of the best options to take your training to the next level.

    2.   Better Recovery

    In conjunction with better exercise performance, the enhanced blood flow associated with citrulline malate supplementation will also improve your recovery after exercise [2].

    By increasing the movement of proteins and nutrients into your muscle tissue after training, citrulline malate ensures that your body has everything it needs to repair and grow stronger. This can lead to faster recovery between sessions, combined with a reduction in muscle soreness.

    Again, the big thing here is that improved recovery between training sessions will ensure that the quality of your training stays high year round -- which can cause substantial improvements in strength and size over a longer term training block.

    3.    Lower Blood Pressure

    Our last benefit deviates slightly away from the realm of exercise, and moves into the realm of health.

    Because citrulline malate acts as a vasodilator, its supplementation can make it easier for the heart to pump blood throughout your body. As a result, it can lead to marked reductions in blood pressure, and improvements in cardiovascular health [3].

    This can reduce your risk of heart disease, which will go a very long way to keep you training at the top of your game for years to come.

    Citrulline Malate Dosing

    So, how much should you take?

    Research has shown that taking between 3 and 8 grams of citrulline malate about 60 minutes before exercise is adequate to improve exercise performance. Moreover, taking similar amounts every day can cause lasting effects in heart health.

    With this in mind, we would suggest you start on the lower side and work your way up gradually to make sure you tolerate it well.

    And of course, always seek advice from a medical professional before supplementation to make sure that it is safe for you to do so.

    Take Home Message

    Citrulline malate matt very well be one of the most potent supplements on the market. With the potential to improve gym performance, boost your recovery between sessions, and even enhance the health of your heart, it is a great choice.

    References

    1. Gonzalez, Adam M., and Eric T. Trexler. "Effects of citrulline supplementation on exercise performance in humans: A review of the current literature." The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research 34.5 (2020): 1480-1495.
    2. Sureda, Antoni, and Antoni Pons. "Arginine and citrulline supplementation in sports and exercise: ergogenic nutrients?." Acute topics in sport nutrition 59 (2012): 18-28.
    3. Orozco-Gutiérrez, Juan José, et al. "Effect of L-arginine or L-citrulline oral supplementation on blood pressure and right ventricular function in heart failure patients with preserved ejection fraction." Cardiology journal 17.6 (2010): 612-618.
  • The Best Testosterone Boosting Supplements

    Testosterone is hands down the most anabolic hormone in the human body. It plays important roles in the metabolism of fat for energy, helps increase the production of bone, ligament, and tendon tissue, and of course, it also promotes muscle growth.

    With this in mind, if your testosterone levels are low, you are leaving gains on the table.

    Which is the reason why testosterone boosting supplements have become so popular amongst top level bodybuilders and weekend warriors alike.

    The Testosterone Dilemma

    When it comes to testosterone boosting supplements, there is strong rationale to suggest that they will not work for everyone.

    In fact, most of the science would indicate that they are most effective for people who have naturally low levels of testosterone. Within this, they appear to have a small positive impact on people with moderate levels of testosterone, and little to no impact on people with naturally high levels of testosterone.

    Which makes sense.

    I mean, if your testosterone levels are high, your body will not increase its levels beyond that upper limit because there is no real need to do so (even if you are taking testosterone boosting supplements).

    The thing I want to point out is that we are currently facing a testosterone dilemma.

    Over the last 50 years we have seen the testosterone levels of the population drop by around 1% per year. Just to be clear, I don't mean that the testosterone levels of individuals are dropping by this amount [1].

    I mean this in the sense that your average 30 year old male in 1991 would have had about 30 percent more testosterone than a 30 year old man in 2021 -- indicating that testosterone levels are decreasing at a population level.

    While this does not mean that you are sure to have low testosterone, it would indicate that your chances of having low testosterone are higher than expected -- and a testosterone boosting supplement might be a good way to cover all your bases.

    Best Testosterone Boosting Supplements

    Now, the key thing to know here is that not all testosterone boosters are created equal. There are a number of supplements out there that include a mix of ingredients that have very little research to support their use.

    As such, if you want to try a testosterone boosting supplement, you want to make sure that it contains some of the following ingredients.

    1.   Tribulus Terrestris

    Tribulus terrestris is a small leafy plant that is commonly referred to as “puncture vine” or “devil's thorn”.

    This distinct plant is found growing throughout parts of the Mediterranean, India, Vietnam, China, Spain, and Mexico. With this in mind, it has been used in traditional eastern medicinal practices to boost libido for centuries.

    Tribulus is quite unique because it contains two extremely bioactive compounds, being “saponins'' and “flavonoids”. These compounds interact with the body's endocrine system, causing changes in hormone secretion.

    As a result, supplementing with tribulus can increase testosterone secretion. Importantly, it appears to become more effective in those individuals who have naturally low testosterone levels [2] -- suggesting that it is the perfect option for the modern era.

    2.   D-Aspartic Acid

    D-Aspartic Acid (or DAA for short) is an amino acid variant that is found in very small amounts throughout your body.

    Although DAA is used in a number of different physiological processes, it is most well known for its impact on your neuroendocrine system -- where it can enhance the production of numerous growth factors and hormones.

    As such, DAA supplements have been shown to increase testosterone secretion, while also blunting the secretion of estrogen and cortisone [3] -- all of which creates a much better environment in the body for muscle growth.

    This makes it one of the most effective testosterone boosting compounds on the planet.

    3.   Horny Goat Weed

    Horny Goat Weed (or “Epimedium” if you are feeling scientific) is a small plant that has been used to boost libido in eastern countries for centuries.

    More recently, this unique plant has made its name as a supplement that can improve sexual performance, help treat erectile dysfunction, and even enhance mental health.

    Oh, and of course, it also has an impact on testosterone -- although it acts a little differently to many of the other compounds listed in this article.

    Instead, once it enters the human body, horny goat weed mimics testosterone without causing a reduction in natural testosterone secretion. This can improve strength and muscle growth without having a direct impact on your testosterone levels [4].

    While it may not technically fit the bill as a “testosterone booster” it is a core ingredient that should be in any testosterone enhancing supplement.

    4.   Tongkat Ali

    Togkat Ali is a plant found growing in Malaysian rainforests. Over the last few years it has managed to get the nickname “Malaysian Viagra” because of its potency with respect to erectile dysfunction, libido, and sexual performance.

    This malaysian plant contains a family of unique compounds known as “Quassinoids'', which interact with the body's reproductive and hormonal systems. In this manner, it has the ability to increase testosterone levels throughout the body.

    And given that there is research demonstrating that people who supplement with Togkat Ali while undergoing a weight training program gain more muscle than those who undertake the same program without the supplement [5], well, we can be certain it is effective.

    5.   Boron

    Boron is a naturally occurring trace mineral that is found all over the world.

    While it is extremely common in industrial settings where it is used to create things like fiberglass and ceramics, it has more recently been making its mark in the wonderful world of supplements.

    This is because once in the human body, it plays a key role in the production of various hormones, including testosterone.

    While boron is found in things like coffee, apples, and nuts, it is only found in small amounts. In fact, the average human is believed to consume a mere three milligrams of the mineral on a daily basis.

    However, supplementing with Boron to increase your daily intake has been shown to cause significant increases in testosterone [6] -- making it a fantastic option.

    6.   Maca Root

    Maca (or as it is known in scientific circles, “Lepidium meyenii”) is a type of vegetable found growing throughout Peru.

    With an appearance that is very similar to that of a radish or turnip, it has been eaten for centuries by Peruvian locals. But more important is the fact that the root of the plant is a known aphrodisiac, where it has been used to boost libido for centuries.

    This plant contains a compound called “macaridine” which has been shown to impact upon the function of your endocrine system, causing an increase in testosterone production. Within this, it can also reduce fatigue and improve energy, which is a nice bonus [7].

    While it is not the most potent option on this list, its effects on energy and fatigue make it a worthy addition to any test booster.

    Take Home Message

    It should be apparent that there are a variety of different supplements that have the ability to increase testosterone levels. Which, when we consider the global decline in testosterone we are seeing in modern day, could make them a worthy addition to your supplement regime.

    However, it is important to note that because many of these supplements interact with your endocrine system, you should seek advice from a medical professional before supplementation.

    Remember, it is always better to be safe than sorry.

    References:

    1. Travison, Thomas G., et al. "A population-level decline in serum testosterone levels in American men." The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism 92.1 (2007): 196-202.
    2. Hussain, Ahmed A., et al. "Study the biological activities of Tribulus terrestris extracts." World Academy of Science, Engineering and Technology 57 (2009): 433-435.
    3. Roshanzamir, Farzad, and Seyyed Morteza Safavi. "The putative effects of D-Aspartic acid on blood testosterone levels: A systematic review." International Journal of Reproductive BioMedicine 15.1 (2017): 1.
    4. Zhang, Zhen?Bao, and Qing?Tao Yang. "The testosterone mimetic properties of icariin." Asian Journal of Andrology 8.5 (2006): 601-605.
    5. Hamzah, S., and A. Yusof. "The ergogenic effects of eurycoma longifolia jack: a pilot study.” Br J Sports Med 37 (2003): 464-470.
    6. Naghii, Mohammad Reza, et al. "Comparative effects of daily and weekly boron supplementation on plasma steroid hormones and proinflammatory cytokines." Journal of trace elements in medicine and biology 25.1 (2011): 54-58.
    7. Gonzales-Arimborgo, Carla, et al. "Acceptability, safety, and efficacy of oral administration of extracts of black or red maca (Lepidium meyenii) in adult human subjects: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study." Pharmaceuticals 9.3 (2016): 49.
  • Do Fat Burners Really Work?

    One of the most popular supplements on the market are fat burners.

    Suggested to help melt fat and get you lean for summer, they are often marketed as a great way to take your physique to the next level -- but do they actually work, or are they a piece of fiction?

    Fat Burning Supplements

    There are a number of different compounds that can have an impact on your capacity to lose fat. Although these compounds impact your body via a number of different physiological systems, they tend to elicit fat loss through one or two mechanisms:

    • Increasing fat metabolism
    • Boosting energy expenditure

    Fat metabolism simply describes the process by which your body breaks down and uses fat for energy.

    In short, compounds that increase fat metabolism facilitate this process. They can do this by making your fat more available for energy production, or by increasing the speed at which your body breaks down fat for energy.

    No matter what approach they take, these compounds ensure that more of the energy you burn everyday comes from fat.

    Then we have energy expenditure.

    Your body has a set metabolic rate, which describes the amount of energy your body expends to maintain its normal physiological processes each and every day. You can think of this as the energy required to stay alive.

    Compounds that boost energy expenditure act to increase your metabolic rate. This increases how much energy you burn every day irrespective of your exercise levels.

    This makes creating a daily energy deficit easier.

    Do Fat Burners Really Work?

    When it comes to fat burners, we have some very clear mechanisms as to why they might help you lose fat -- however, they won't do it all for you.

    To lose fat, you still need to be in a sustained energy deficit.

    Looking at it in a simple manner, an energy deficit is a state where you consume less energy than you expend on a daily basis.

    For example, if your daily energy requirements to maintain weight are 1800 calories per day and you only consume 1500 calories, you are in an energy deficit of 300 calories per day. Given that you still need to burn this same 1800 calories to survive, the 300 comes from your fat stores.

    Over time, this leads to fat loss.

    With all that in mind, if you are not eating in an energy deficit, you will not lose weight -- no matter how many fat burners you take.

    However, fat burners can make getting into an energy deficit more manageable, while also ensuring that more of the energy you burn comes from fat and not stored carbohydrates -- ultimately making the fat loss process easier.

    Best Fat Burning Supplements

    We now know that fat burners could have a place in your supplement regime -- but not all supplements are created equal.

    As a result, you want to make sure that your fat burner has some of these scientifically supported ingredients in their profile to ensure they are actually effective,

    Gamma-Butyrobetaine (GBB)

    Gamma-Butyrobetaine, or GBB for short, is a naturally occurring compound that your body uses to synthesise L-Carnitine -- which is an important amino acid that plays a role in the fat metabolism process.

    More specifically, it is a primary player in a process known as beta oxidation -- which essentially describes the way your body breaks down fat for energy in the presence of oxygen.

    This means that the supplementation of GBB can increase fat metabolism, making sure your body burns more fat for energy. There is also some evidence to suggest that taking it before exercise can increase the amount of fat you burn during that bout of exercise [1] -- making it a great option to take before some cardio.

    Rauwolscine

    Rauwolscine is a naturally occurring dirritvie of “yohimbe” -- a compound that comes from the yohimbe plant, and is said to increase energy levels and improve feelings of happiness and emotional wellbeing,

    More importantly, rauwolscine blocks “alpha-2 adrenergic receptors” in a much more effective way than Yohimbe, making it a very potent fat loss supplement [2].

    See, alpha-2 receptors are found throughout your brain and your body. When they are activated, they actually act to calm the body, lowering heart rate, increasing insulin secretion, and enhancing energy storage.

    But by blocking these receptors, rauwolscine reduces fat storage and increases fat metabolism. Moreover, it also promotes the release of norepinephrine and epinephrine, which increases heart rate and energy expenditure.

    This makes it a great fat burning option that hits both of the primary mechanisms mentioned above.

    Theobromine Extract

    Theobromine is a natural compound found in both cacao plants and tea leaves, that has been shown to exhibit similar effects on the body as caffeine.

    In this manner, it increases blood flow throughout the body, while also promoting the secretion of key hormones epinephrine and norepinephrine. These two hormones are known to increase both heart rate and metabolic rate [3].

    As a result, the supplementation of theobromine can lead to an increase in energy expenditure, making achieving an energy deficit easier.

    Acetyl L Carnitine

    AS discussed in detail when talking about GBB, L-Carnitine is an amino acid that plays a role in the process of beta oxidation -- which is again, the process by which your body breaks down fat for energy.

    This means that supplementing with L-Carnitine can contribute to a larger portion of the energy you burn coming from fat [4].

    Something that is worth noting here is that your body has the ability to store up GBB and L-Carnitine. As a result, supplementing them together ensures that you have adequate amounts available to facilitate fat metabolism at all times.

    L-Tyrosine

    Tyrosine is another unique amino acid found in your body.

    However, this amino acid is particularly important because it helps your body make a number of very important substances, dopamine, adrenaline and noradrenaline, and your thyroid hormones -- all of which impact upon your metabolism.

    Like many of the other compounds listed in this article, the impact it has on dopamine, adrenaline, and norepinephrine, causes a marked increase in energy expenditure.

    But more important is its impact on your thyroid hormones.

    Research shows that it can increase “T3” (the most active thyroid hormone) while simultaneously lowering another hormone called “TSH”, which can often be linked to hypothyroidism [4].

    This suggests that L-tyrosine can help regulate your metabolism, which may make it easier to lose fat.

    Synephrine HCL

    Synephrine is a biogenic amine that is found in high concentrations in the peels of citrus plants.

    Evidence has shown that synephrine extract can impact upon the function of your liver, enhancing the production and secretion of numerous enzymes that play roles in energy production.

    Within this, it has also been shown to increase heart rate and energy output.

    Collectively this has been shown to increase daily energy expenditure while simultaneously boosting your metabolism -- making it one of the most effective fat loss compounds on the market [5].

    Caffeine Anhydrous

    In short, caffeine is a compound found in plants that acts as a stimulant. After consumption, caffeine makes its way into your brain and attaches itself to your “adenosine receptors”.

    Adenosine is a neurotransmitter that acts to relax the brain, making you feel tired. Under normal circumstances, adenosine levels accumulate throughout the day, facilitating your transition into sleep.

    But by blocking these receptors, caffeine actually increases sensations of alertness.

    Moreover, caffeine also increases the levels of adrenaline, dopamine, and norepinephrine in your brain. This further increases your energy output, while also helping mobilise your fat stores for energy.

    Which ultimately makes it easier to lose fat by facialting your energy deficit [6].

    Final Points

    While fat burners won't do it all for you, they can make your fat loss journey easier by increasing fat metabolism and enhancing energy expenditure -- making them a viable tool in your fat-loss toolbox.

    One thing that we will note is that many fat burning supplements also act as stimulants.

    As a result, you should always seek advice from a medical professional before commencing supplementation (you know, just to be safe).

     

    References

    1. Prasertsri, Piyapong, et al. "Cashew apple juice supplementation enhanced fat utilization during high-intensity exercise in trained and untrained men." Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 10.1 (2013): 1-6.
    2. Perry, Bruce D., and David C. U'Prichard. "[3H] Rauwolscine (?-yohimbine): a specific antagonist radioligand for brain ?2-adrenergic receptors." European journal of pharmacology 76.4 (1981): 461-464.
    3. Baggott, Matthew J., et al. "Psychopharmacology of theobromine in healthy volunteers." Psychopharmacology 228.1 (2013): 109-118.
    4. Huang, Amy, and Kevin Owen. "Role of supplementary L-carnitine in exercise and exercise recovery." Acute Topics in Sport Nutrition. Vol. 59. Karger Publishers, 2012. 135-142.
    5. Haaz, S., et al. "Citrus aurantium and synephrine alkaloids in the treatment of overweight and obesity: an update." Obesity reviews 7.1 (2006): 79-88.
    6. Ferreira, G. A., et al. "Does caffeine ingestion before a short-term sprint interval training promote body fat loss?." Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research 52.12 (2019).
  • Dextrose VS. Maltodextrin: The Ultimate Guide

    When it comes to maximizing the results of your training, optimising your recovery through nutrition is one of the most important factors. And one of the most effective ways to do this is through a carbohydrate powder.

    Now, two of the most popular carb powders on the market are dextrose and maltodextrin.

    But how do they work? And more importantly, is one better than the other?

    Dextrose and Maltodextrin

    As I have already alluded to, both dextrose and maltodextrin are carbohydrate powders -- but that does not mean they are exactly the same.

    Dextrose is the most commonly occurring natural form of glucose on the planet. It is made during photosynthesis by plants, which provides them with an immediate source of energy that they can use to perform their many physiological functions.

    As a supplement, dextrose is a “monosaccharide” (meaning it is made up of a single sugar molecule). Because of this it is what many would consider a “simple sugar”, in which it is very easily digested by humans.

    On the other hand, we have maltodextrin.

    While maltodextrin is still a type of carbohydrate powder, it is what is known as a “polysaccharide”. This means that it is made up of multiple glucose molecules stuck together, rather than just a single sugar molecule like dextrose.

    Dextrose VS Maltodextrin: Nutritional Information

    It should come as no surprise that both dextrose and maltodextrin powders are relatively high in carbohydrates -- I mean, that is literally what they are made from.

    But they do have one primary point of difference.

    Using the Amino Z dextrose powder as an example, it contains a whopping 27.3 grams of carbohydrates per 30 gram serving, all of which are derived from the simple sugar glucose. As a result, it contains no complex carbs, no fat, and no protein.

    On the other hand, while the Amino Z maltodextrin powder also contains 27.3 grams of carbohydrates per 30 gram serving, all of it is derived from complex carbohydrates. This means it contains no simple sugars, no fat, and no protein.

    Dextrose VS Maltodextrin: Absorption

    After consuming a complex carbohydrate like maltodextrin, they need to be broken down in your digestive tract into individual glucose molecules. These glucose molecules then need to pass through the wall of your intestine through specific glucose transporters, before entering your bloodstream.

    This same process of absorption still needs to occur to dextrose, but it does not need to be broken down because it is already as small as it can get.

    The key difference in carbohydrate types between dextrose and maltodextrin would make you think that both supplements have different absorption rates -- but this does not appear to be the case.

    Or at least, not in a big way.

    See, there are only so many Glucose Transporters found on the wall of your intestines. As a result, there is actually a ceiling on how fast they can transport glucose molecules into your bloodstream -- which sits at around 60 grams per hour.

    Because of this bottleneck (so to speak), both dextrose and maltodextrin are absorbed at the maximum rate of 60 grams per hour -- even when maltodextrin needs to be broken down into individual glucose molecules first.

    Dextrose, Maltodextrin, and their Associated Benefits

    With all this in mind, you might be wondering whether they offer any unique benefits from one another, and I would argue they both offer the same benefits -- especially when it comes to optimising recovery and muscle growth.

    Because both dextrose and maltodextrin are absorbed so rapidly, they both result in a rapid rise in blood sugar immediately after consumption. This increase in blood sugar causes a subsequent increase in the secretion of the hormone “insulin”.

    Now this is important.

    See, insulin is known as the energy storage hormone because it helps transport glucose and protein molecules from your blood and into your muscle tissue. This can increase the availability of these nutrients, enhancing muscle growth.

    In fact, research has shown that, via this mechanism, the supplementation of a carbohydrate powder like dextrose or maltodextrin after exercise can lead to vast increases in muscle protein synthesis, even if protein is not present  [1].

    Amazingly, this effect is actually magnified when they are combined with a fast absorbing protein powder [2].

    Taking all of this into consideration, it looks like both dextrose and maltodextrin cause an immediate increase in muscle protein synthesis after consumption. This can promote additional muscle growth, which is pretty important.

    Moreover, this increase in muscle protein synthesis can also expedite the recovery process after training. This could enhance the quality of your next training session, leading to further improvements in muscle strength and size over the course of a training block.

    Dextrose VS Maltodextrin: Taste

    As far as their effects on the body go, there is no real difference between dextrose and maltodextrin. In fact, it is likely that their impact on recovery and muscle growth are actually exactly the same.

    However, there is one area where they do differ slightly -- yep, taste.

    Because dextrose is a monosaccharide, it is much sweeter than maltodextrin. In fact, I have heard some people go as far as to suggest that it is even sweeter than sugar.

    While maltodextrin is certainly sweet, it is quite subtle compared to dextrose.

    This means that if you want to obtain the benefits of one of these potent carbohydrate powders and don't have a real sweet tooth, then maltodextrin could be a great option. And if you love sweets, then dextrose is a no brainer.

    Dextrose VS Maltodextrin: Mixability

    Like taste, there is a little difference between the mixability of the two.

    Because dextrose is a single sugar molecule, it is absorbed very easily into liquid. This means that it has very little chance of clumping together, and ultimately ensures a smooth shake every single time.

    On the other hand maltodextrin can be more prone to clumping -- particularly if it is mixed in something other than water (i.e. milk).

    While this is unlikely to have a huge impact on your choice, it could make a difference if you absolutely hate having clumps of powder in your post-workout shakes.

    Dextrose and Maltodextrin: When and How Much?

    If you are looking to maximise the benefits of dextrose or maltodextrin, then you could use it in a couple different ways.

    You could have a small portion (~30g) of either carb powder with protein about 60 minutes before your workout. This would ensure that you have adequate glucose available to fuel your training session, while also providing your body with a steady stream of protein during your workout.

    This could conceivably improve both performance and recovery -- which is integral for muscle growth.

    You could also have a moderate portion (30-60g) within an hour after finishing your training session. This would maximize muscle protein synthesis and cause a meaningful contribution to muscle growth. As alluded to above, combining this with a fast absorbing protein powder would increase this effect significantly.

    And if you wanted to be certain that you are optimizing the results of your training, you could do both.

    Summary

    Dextrose and maltodextrin are two of the most common carbohydrate supplements on the market -- and for very good reason too.

    They are both absorbed incredibly fast, both cause a substantial increase in muscle protein synthesis, and can both promote increases in recovery and muscle growth. In fact, their only real difference relates to taste, where dextrose is much sweeter in flavour.

    So, if you want to choose one, simply go with your flavour preference and reap the rewards.

     

    References

    1. Roy, B. D., et al. "Effect of glucose supplement timing on protein metabolism after resistance training." Journal of applied physiology (1997).
    2. Tang, Jason E., et al. "Minimal whey protein with carbohydrate stimulates muscle protein synthesis following resistance exercise in trained young men." Applied physiology, nutrition, and metabolism 32.6 (2007): 1132-1138.
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