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Supplements

  • Up Your Game With The Big 5 Pre-Workout And Energy Supplements

    If you value the time and energy you put into your workouts, the naturally you would attempt to optimize the progress you make. You can never fully understand the difference a pre-workout makes on your ability to soar past workout targets until you’ve truly tried them.

    And yet, you may be surprised to discover that quite a large number of the people you see in the gym have no idea that such supplements exist. But your different – by taking a scientific approach to nutrition, your workouts and supplementation, you can achieve much more, and in a shorter amount of time.

    Wondering which supplements are the best elevate your game? Then be sure to look for does that make use of the following ingredients.

    Caffeine

    Loved by many, loathed by a few, caffeine has been a part of our history since time immemorial. The reason is simple – it makes a world of difference on your energy levels, can also reduce fatigue in the process.

    Not feeling like hitting the gym today? Those feelings quickly subside after downing a shot of a caffeine infused energy booster or pre-workout product. Being a stimulant, caffeine increases alertness, motivation[i], and can help you get more done in less time.

    If you are new to working out, or on a budget, you can still benefit from using caffeine. Simply down a mug of black coffee prior to your work out, or opt for inexpensive caffeine pills. Caffeine is by far the most popular introductory pre-workout adjuvant across the world.

    Most people can safely tolerate between 200 to 400 mg of caffeine per serving, for a total of no more than 800 mg daily. If you possess sensitivities to stimulants, steer clear of caffeine.

    Creatine

    Being crowned the most studied supplement of all time, you can rest assured that Creatine is one of those supplements that is the real deal. Found naturally in an array of animal-based products, but especially red meat, it is often more practical to consume it in a supplemental form owing to the massive amount of food required to meet the recommended intakes.

    Creatine is ideal for rapidly gaining strength and muscle mass by virtue of its ability to rapidly replenish ATP stores. ATP supply is finite, but Creatine is able to increase the rate of resynthesis, and also delay time before exertion kicks in. not only this, but Creatine also improves power output and endurance[ii].

    In turn, you are able to achieve more time under tension, which equates to more rapid progress. An initial loading dose of 20 g daily for seven days may help to saturate muscle cells this compound, after which daily maintenance doses of between 3 to 5 g taken at the pre-or post-workout interval is ideal.

    Creatine is best absorbed if accompanied by a fast digesting carbohydrate such as dextrose, since its uptake into muscle cells is via the same insulin-dependent transport protein carbs use.

    Beta Alanine

    Considered a nonessential amino acid Beta alanine is naturally produced by the body. This is the case, you may be wondering why mentation is necessary. To appreciate this, you must understand that the body produces just as much as it needs to fulfil basic processes. Muscular hyper trophy is not considered a basic body process, so as you can see, you need much more than the body can produce.

    While beta alanine possesses slight nootropic actions on its own, it really stars when combined with another amino acid known as histidine to form carnosine. This is the dipeptide amino acid which makes all the difference.

    As muscle carnosine levels increase, the ability of these muscle groups to resist failure and perform longer is also enhanced. Carnosine works by helping to buffer the accumulation of positively charged hydrogen ions[iii], which are produced as by-products generated via muscular contraction.

    Lactic acid, but more specifically these exact positively charged hydrogen ions, is what is responsible for muscular failure, or inability to contract the muscle any further. By buffering the accumulation of this, muscle contraction can continue a little longer.

    The bottom line? You are able to exercise longer or more intensely before failure and fatigue sets in. This, of course, is one of the primary objectives of working out in the first place – to build a stronger, faster, and more efficient body.

    Citrulline

    Imagine this; in this moment, there is one version of you. In the future, while you are still alive, and you were version of you is discovered, with superior traits that more or less make the old you obsolete. Citrulline can be considered arginine’s new version.

    Found abundantly in watermelon, it possesses many of the same properties as arginine, especially when it comes to increasing nitric oxide (NO) levels, and does it better than arginine to boot.

    The great irony lies in the fact that citrulline needs to be converted to arginine before it lends itself to increasing nitric oxide production, but once the conversion is complete, it arguably does it better than consuming arginine would.

    It is believed that this superior imposter effect occurs as a result of up regulating an enzyme known as nitric oxide synthase (NOS), which is considered the rate limiting step of NO production. Improving the activity of this enzyme means that NO is produced more rapidly.

    Then, there is also the fact that arginine itself is rapidly broken down by the arginase the enzyme, whereas citrulline is unaffected. This is why it is said that citrulline does a better job of delivering L-arginine to the body then using straight form arginine.

    This enhance blood flow lends itself to improved oxygen and nutrient delivery during your workout, leading to greater muscle pump, power generation and subsequently performance[iv].

    Betaine

    Naturally produced amino acid, it isn’t of recent discovery but rather one whose performance enhancing properties have recently come into the spotlight. Found abundantly in beets (hence the name), betaine’s starring role is thanks to it being classified as a methyl donor.

    In the body, homocysteine undergoes a process of methylation to form methionine, very important in the synthesis of Creatine. Creatine, as it is well known and as previously mentioned, and can help improve power output and performance[v] by helping to rapidly regenerate ATP stores.

    Thus, by having something help synthesize more Creatine, great synergy is achieved. Betaine also helps to support protein synthesis again by its ability to increase methionine, allowing you to get the most out of each workout.

    Other Supplements

    Other great pre-workout and energy boosting supplements that you are likely to come across include taurine, the branched-chain amino acids and L tyrosine, which is considered a better alternative for people with stimulant sensitivities.

    In Summary

    Regardless of where you are in your fitness journey, you do not need to go without experiencing the ergogenic benefits that ingredients listed above can offer you. If you’re now starting out, or on a tight budget, you may be able to suffice a bit by making a budget pre-workout, though in reality it is much more practical to opt for a recognized supplement that contains several of the most effective products.

    Pre-workouts can truly be a game changer, especially when you need a little extra in terms of energy and drive.

    [i] Nehlig A, Daval JL, Debry G. Caffeine and the central nervous system:mechanisms of action, biochemical, metabolic and psychostimulant effects. Brain Res Brain Res Rev. 1992 May-Aug;17(2):139-70. Review. PubMed PMID: 1356551.

    [ii] Izquierdo M, Ibañez J, González-Badillo JJ, Gorostiaga EM. Effects of creatine supplementation on muscle power, endurance, and sprint performance. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2002 Feb;34(2):332-43. PubMed PMID: 11828245.

    [iii] Culbertson JY, Kreider RB, Greenwood M, Cooke M. Effects of beta-alanine on muscle carnosine and exercise performance: a review of the current literature. Nutrients. 2010;2(1):75–98. doi:10.3390/nu2010075

    [iv] Pérez-Guisado J, Jakeman PM. Citrulline malate enhances athletic anaerobic performance and relieves muscle soreness. J Strength Cond Res. 2010 May;24(5):1215-22. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181cb28e0. PubMed PMID: 20386132.

    [v] Lee, E.C., Maresh, C.M., Kraemer, W.J. et al. Ergogenic effects of betaine supplementation on strength and power performance. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 7, 27 (2010) doi:10.1186/1550-2783-7-27

  • 5 Compelling Reasons You Need More Vitamin D

    Vitamin D is one of those things we grew up with and never really paid much attention to. Everyone knows about vitamin C and its ability to help you dodge flu season, but unless you live in frigid winter climate with scarce daylight hours much of the year, you’ve probably never thought about upping your vitamin D game.

    That is, until now, of course. Turns out, vitamin D, which is steroid based, should be everyone’s business, since even though hit is synthesized in the skin upon exposure to the sunlight, you are unlikely to meet your daily requirements.

    This is especially true when talking about hard training athletes like yourself, as average is never enough. Read on to discover the compelling reasons why it is in your best interest to start getting more dietary vitamin D ASAP.

    Benefits Of Vitamin D

    Improved Motivation

    There are many people that take mindset and motivation for granted, especially if they’ve never really grappled with theirs. However, for many others, depression, or seasonal affective disorder (SAD)[i] is so intense that it effectively inhibits the desire to workout, having an adverse effect on health and physical wellbeing.

    SAD often occurs during winter months when sun exposure is limited. Supplementation with vitamin D, in the form of the more potent and active D3, is one way to help mitigate the feeling of lethargy, and indifference that is common at this time.

    Improves Insulin Sensitivity

    Insulin is one of the most anabolic hormones at your disposal, but like anything else, if taken for granted can wreak havoc on your physique and health as a whole. When things go awry, it’s usually because of one thing- insulin resistance.

    Insulin resistance is virtually the pathway to developing diabetes, a disease you should avoid at all costs. Vitamin D can help you do just that.

    Diabetics, and people in pre-diabetic stages were able to significantly improve their blood glucose control by supplementing daily with 2000 IU vitamin D. another study found a strong association between vitamin D levels and insulin resistance/ type two diabetes[ii], so it is worth your time ensuring your levels are optimal.

    Bear in mind that improved glucose control and insulin function also translate well to increased uptake of glucose and amino acids into muscle cells, which is the icing on the cake for a well done workout.

    Increases Protein Synthesis

    Being a steroid compound, you would expect it to have some sort of effect on protein synthesis right? All jokes aside, this in its own right makes vitamin D worth your time. Taken post workout, it can actually increase the rate of protein synthesis[iii], especially when combined with the BCAA leucine.

    This effect is further potentiated because leucine itself stimulates insulin secretion, making for greater lean mass accrual.

    May Increase Testosterone Levels

    If you’re a hardworking athlete, then you know that a significant portion of the progress you make in the gym (and out) will be attributed to your testosterone levels. Supplements that claim to increase yo8rntestosterone levels are a dime a dozen, but what if you settled on one that can do that along with so much more?

    The thing is- vitamin D is not a guarantee to increase your testosterone levels. Rather, it possesses a strong degree of correlation. By this, we mean that men who have higher blood levels of vitamin D usually have higher testosterone levels, with the opposite being true as well.

    A study published in the journal of Clinical Endocrinology[iv] in 2010 confirmed this, adding that although the exact mechanism for this increase is not well-understood, it is a fairly accurate way to enhance one’s testosterone levels.

    A year later, another study, this time published in the journal of Hormonal Metabolism Research, directly compared the effect of administering 3300 IU vitamin D against control over the course of one year[v].  After the end of the study period, men given the vitamin D supplement experienced on average 20% increase in testosterone levels, while the placebo group remained unchanged.

    May Help Reduce Fat Mass

    Another probable benefit of adding a vitamin D supplement to your arsenal is its ability to help reduce fat stores. Vitamin D levels and fat mass appear to be inversely related, which means with higher body fat levels coincides lower serum vitamin D[vi].

    This excess body fat could be found under the skin as well as in muscle cells, which impair the activity of mitochondria in producing energy. Supplemental vitamin D can help promote the utilization of fats by working in tandem with calcium, another well-known lipotropic nutrient.

    One thing is clear, although it may not lead to dramatic weight loss, it is associated with a net reduction in body fat.

    Other Benefits

    There are other benefits of vitamin D that you stand to benefit from as well, which while not specific to your athletic goals, are still very important in the long run. For instance, it may help to reduce the incidence of certain cancers, in addition to its very important role in calcium absorption.

    In Summary

    Regardless of where you live, vitamin D supplementation is quickly becoming a necessity. It was believed that you could get enough from sunlight if you lived in a tropical climate, but even so it is surprising top find out that deficiency is still fairly common.

    Opt for about 2000 – 4000 IU daily to experience its majestic benefits in your life.

    [i] Gloth FM 3rd, Alam W, Hollis B. Vitamin D vs broad spectrum phototherapy in the treatment of seasonal affective disorder. J Nutr Health Aging. 1999;3(1):5-7.PubMed PMID: 10888476.

    [ii] Huang Y, Li X, Wang M, et al. Lipoprotein lipase links vitamin D, insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes: a cross-sectional epidemiological study. Cardiovasc Diabetol. 2013;12:17. Published 2013 Jan 16. doi:10.1186/1475-2840-12-17

    [iii] Salles J, Chanet A, Giraudet C, Patrac V, Pierre P, Jourdan M, Luiking YC,Verlaan S, Migné C, Boirie Y, Walrand S. 1,25(OH)2-vitamin D3 enhances the stimulating effect of leucine and insulin on protein synthesis rate through

    Akt/PKB and mTOR mediated pathways in murine C2C12 skeletal myotubes. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2013 Dec;57(12):2137-46. doi: 10.1002/mnfr.201300074. Epub 2013 Aug 9. PubMed PMID: 23929734.

    [iv] Wehr, E., Pilz, S., Boehm, B.O., März, W. and Obermayer?Pietsch, B. (2010), Association of vitamin D status with serum androgen levels in men. Clinical Endocrinology, 73: 243-248. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2265.2009.03777.x

    [v] 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. PubMed PMID: 21154195.

    [vi] Golzarand M, Hollis BW, Mirmiran P, Wagner CL, Shab-Bidar S. Vitamin D

    supplementation and body fat mass: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Eur J

    Clin Nutr. 2018 Oct;72(10):1345-1357. doi: 10.1038/s41430-018-0132-z. Epub 2018

    Mar 21. PubMed PMID: 29563638.

  • Injury Sucks! The Best Bone & Joint Supplements To Keep You In The Game

    As athletes, we tend to take certain liberties because we think our bodies are more capable than the average populace. In a way, that is correct, but putting the cart before the horse is a sure-fire recipe for disaster.

    Nowhere is there more evident than when it relates to the health of our bones and joints, which we take for granted will “just be around” to support whatever load we place on there, in perpetuity.

    Indeed, many athletes may go a lifetime without experiencing significant joint pain or any malady affecting bone tissue, but there is an equally large number of people that do suffer from issues relating to these, adversely affecting their goals.

    Like any other tissue, bone and joint also require nourishment to thrive and continually regenerate, especially after the rigors we athletes put them through. Athletes are considerably at higher risk of experiencing some sort of issue relating to the bones or joints from wear and tear, or inadequate mineralization in the case of bones.

    But not to worry. Looking to add a good insurance policy to these important structural assets? Then let’s explore what can be considered as mandatory consumption.

    Calcium

    The poster child mineral of bones over the past century, it is actually the most abundant mineral found in the human body. A healthy adult possesses between 1 and 1.5 kg of calcium, with over 99% of this mass concentrate in bone tissue (teeth included).

    With its importance in mind, you can then understand why calcium is considered to be an excellent preventative against osteoporosis- the disease of poorly mineralized and low density bone tissue[i].

    While not extremely prevalent in healthy, younger adults, osteoporosis becomes a pressing issue for women as they approach menopause, coinciding with the abrupt reduction in estrogen production that occurs at this time. Upon losing the protective effect of estrogen on bone tissue, calcium leaching from bone can occur if adequate consumption is not met.

    Of course, this eventuality can be significantly reduced if adequate consumption patterns are established earlier in life.

    Glucosamine

    An extremely popular joint supplement, it is a mainstay of management in osteoarthritis sufferers. Glucosamine functions by helping to provide a very important raw material; one known as a glycosaminoglycan, which forms an important component of cartilage.

    Owing to the fact that true “cartilage” in supplemental form is very poorly absorbed, while glucosamine boasts over 98% absorption, it can be considered one of the best treatment options for supporting the health of joints.

    Glucosamine also provides a much better option at joint pain management than NSAID medications, as a Chinese study which investigated the consumption of a glucosamine study found[ii]. Over the course of 4 weeks, at a dose of 1500 mg daily, glucosamine yielded better results and tolerability when compared to ibuprofen.

    There were concerns that glucosamine may be unsuitable for people with allergies to shellfish, but most of these fears have been dismissed as it is extracted from the actual shells of these animals, and not the proteinaceous body.

    Chondroitin

    Considered the other side of the coin to glucosamine, many of the supplements you find on sale today occur with these two ingredients. Also a glycosaminoglycan, chondroitin possesses a few different properties than glucosamine.

    For instance, chondroitin is considered a sort of matrix that interfaces between cartilage, where is confers both strength and elasticity to the tissue. Plus, it also draws moisture to the joints, adding another layer of lubrication that reduces the likelihood of injury occurring.

    Chondroitin also plays an important role in supporting bone tissue recovery, since the glucosaminoglycans found in this tissue type are primarily of chondroitin origin[iii].

    Shoot for a daily dose of between 300-900 mg taken in split doses.

    MSM

    Also known by its much longer name of methylsulfonylmethane, at its core it’s a great source of a very basic compound- Sulphur. By weight, it is about 34% Sulphur, and is considered one of the important building blocks to support the health of cartilage[iv].

    Both types of structural proteins, keratin and collagen, are Sulphur dense, which can help you understand the importance of this supplement to overall joint health. Any scenario characterized by joint breakdown, whether that be from wear and tear of auto-immune causes, can benefit from MSM’s actions.

    Vitamin C

    Although often overlooked, this vitamin does much more than help to protect you from the common cold. A very effective anti-oxidant vitamin, it also plays a critical role in the maintenance of connective tissue.

    Connective tissue include the gums, tendons, ligaments and very important joints, which are critical for day to day function. Much of vitamin C’s usage came to light during the days of trans-atlantic ship voyages, where sailors would routinely develop scurvy from the lack of readily available citrus fruits.

    Vitamin C plays an important role in the synthesis of collagen, a structural protein that supports pain-free joint health, and can even assist with bone regeneration following fractures or other related injuries[v].

    Turmeric

    An ancient ayurvedic herb and staple of the Asian subcontinent, turmeric possesses extraordinary anti-inflammatory properties thanks to the presence of the compound curcumin. When consumed, turmeric exerts potent effect on reducing pain and tenderness in joints relating to injury, arthritis or even bursitis. If you are past your mid-thirties and subject your body to intense workouts frequently, adding turmeric to your supplement arsenal before it’s too late can save you discomfort and from losing time owing from the gym owing to injury.

    In summary

    It is easy to become complacent and open yourself up to injury, as oftentimes skeletal muscle grows at a rate far exceeding that of supporting structures, inevitably leading to a game of dangerous catch up.

    Be on the safe side- ensure you support the very important joints, connective tissue and of course, bone, to keep yourself banging barbells for years to come.

     

    [i] Tai V, Leung W, Grey A, Reid IR, Bolland MJ. Calcium intake and bone mineral density: systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ. 2015;351:h4183. Published 2015 Sep 29. doi:10.1136/bmj.h4183

    [ii] Momomura R, Naito K, Igarashi M, Watari T, Terakado A, Oike S, Sakamoto K, Nagaoka I, Kaneko K. Evaluation of the effect of glucosamine administration on biomarkers of cartilage and bone metabolism in bicycle racers. Mol Med Rep. 2013 Mar;7(3):742-6. doi: 10.3892/mmr.2013.1289. Epub 2013 Jan 25. PubMed PMID:23358550.

    [iii] Singh JA, Noorbaloochi S, MacDonald R, Maxwell LJ. Chondroitin for osteoarthritis. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015;1:CD005614. Published 2015 Jan 28. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD005614.pub2

    [iv] Butawan M, Benjamin RL, Bloomer RJ. Methylsulfonylmethane: Applications and Safety of a Novel Dietary Supplement. Nutrients. 2017;9(3):290. Published 2017 Mar 16. doi:10.3390/nu9030290

    [v] DePhillipo NN, Aman ZS, Kennedy MI, Begley JP, Moatshe G, LaPrade RF. Efficacy of Vitamin C Supplementation on Collagen Synthesis and Oxidative Stress After Musculoskeletal Injuries: A Systematic Review. Orthop J Sports Med. 2018;6(10):2325967118804544. Published 2018 Oct 25. doi:10.1177/2325967118804544

  • 4 Reasons You Need A Nitric Oxide Boosting Supplement Right Now

    If you’ve been training for a little while, a time inevitably comes when progress does not come as rapidly as it used to. This is normal, as progression does not follow a perfectly linear path, so what can you do to help keep the wheels moving forward?

    This is the time when well timed supplements can make a big difference to your bottom line. Most bodybuilders and other athletes usually turn to creatine first, which is a good idea, but what if there is another supplement category that you can use which effectively makes everything else work better?

    That category, would have to belong to nitric oxide boosters.

    What Is Nitric Oxide?

    Nitric oxide is a gaseous molecule that is produced naturally in the body via the breakdown of the amino acid arginine. It possesses several important functions, many of them not specific to fitness. However, being a hard-working athlete, we will limit the scope of this discussion to the benefits that can help benefit you directly.

    Why Use Nitric Oxide Supplements?

    1.   Intense Muscle Pumps

    Surprisingly, many people have never truly experienced a muscle pump, as this is quite different from the standard burn you feel after hitting failure in a muscle group. A muscle pump, tends to occur just after you’ve completed a working set, as the contracted muscle group relaxes and a flood of blood saturates it.

    Since nitric oxide itself promotes relaxation of blood vessels, what this means is that a larger volume of blood primes the muscle and delivers oxygen and nutrients. Subsequently, your muscles appear fuller and are more capable of handling the stressors placed on it during your next working set.

    2.   Accelerated Recovery

    It is important to realize that true recovery does not occur in the gym, but rather during sleep and throughout the day as you supply nutrients needed for the process. Nothing is worse than enduring severe muscle pain for days on end following an intense workout, even though a degree of DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) is inevitable.

    Supplements that promote the synthesis of nitric oxide accelerate recovery by making available copious amounts of nutrients to muscles after your workout, and also facilitate the exchange (removal) of metabolic by-products afterwards[i] (especially lactate).

    What this means is that you will notice a marked improvement in your recovery time after a workout session, lending itself to you fitting in more workouts in the same timeframe (for example, four workouts per week instead of three).

    3.   Enhances Glucose Utilization

    In order to function at peak capacity, your muscle cells need to be able to make use of the glucose it has access to. Supplements that can boost nitric oxide levels, especially L-arginine, have this exact benefit.

    A study conducted by the American journey of endocrinology and metabolism found that trained male cyclists improved their performance over the course of a 120 minute training session. It was noted that a higher degree of free glucose was observed in blood, along with more rapid rates of disappearance[ii].

    This meant that more glucose is being made available, and simultaneously used up to fuel performance. Subsequently, the increased presence of free-form fatty acids are also found in blood, which means that enhanced rates of fat burning occurred as well.

    Thus, regardless of your current body composition, enhancing nitric oxide production in your body is likely to equate to improved fuel utilization (be that glucose or fat).

    4.   Increased Growth Hormone Production

    Growth hormone is naturally produced in pulsatile rhythms throughout the day, but most significantly during sleep. This hormone is an important part in cellular recovery and regeneration, making it considerably anabolic.

    Supplements that enhance nitric oxide levels are also generally associated with improved growth hormone responses, especially if consumed before bed. A combination of exercise and arginine, for example, can help increase growth hormone levels by 200% over baseline[iii], which translates to superior muscle growth.

    Growth hormone also possesses a lipotropic action, which makes it favourable for bringing about body recomposition.

    Other Benefits Of Increasing Nitric Oxide Levels

    Nitric oxide can be considered one of the body’s most important biological molecules, as it also helps regulate blood pressure, take the load off of the heart, decrease the likelihood of developing diabetes or improving blood sugar management, and can even help to exert an antiaging effect by virtue of growth hormone.

    Best Supplements To Boost Nitric Oxide Levels

    There are actually a few different supplements that can help to bring about a net increase in nitric oxide levels, with arginine being the most well-known one.

    However, newer ones have since eclipsed arginine as better alternatives, as is particularly the case with citrulline. Citrulline converts to arginine at a very efficient rate, but does not suffer the breakdown associated with consuming straight supplemental arginine. This makes it much better at elevating nitric oxide production.

    L-norvaline, while not directly lending itself to nitric oxide production, helps to inhibit the enzyme arginase[iv] which breaks down arginine and makes it less capable of converting to nitric oxide. This makes it ideal in combination with a primary nitric oxide booster such as citrulline or arginine.

    In Summary

    As an athlete, working to improve nitric oxide production can go a far way in helping you achieve your goals. Supplements designed to do so are no longer specialty, but rather essential parts of an effective arsenal of tools at your disposal.

    If you must choose one supplement alone, we recommend you go with citrulline; although many of the most effective ingredients come packaged together to help you get maximum bang for your buck.

    [i] Mor A, Yilmaz Ak, Acar K, Birinci Mc, Ipekoglu G. Does Nitric Oxide Intake Affect Post-Exercise Recovery in Athletes? A Study on Cocoa, Caffeine and Nitric Oxide Supplement. Progr Nutr [Internet]. 2019Jul.18

    [ii] Laura Sardon Puig, Nicolas J. Pillon  et al.Influence of obesity, weight loss, and free fatty acids on skeletal muscle clock gene expression American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism 2020 318:1, E1-E10

    [iii] Kanaley JA. Growth hormone, arginine and exercise. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2008 Jan;11(1):50-4. Review. PubMed PMID: 18090659.

    [iv] Pokrovskiy MV, Korokin MV, Tsepeleva SA, et al. Arginase inhibitor in the pharmacological correction of endothelial dysfunction. Int J Hypertens. 2011;2011:515047. doi:10.4061/2011/515047

  • 5 Ways Magnesium Will Make You Crush Your Goals

    Most people know of the mineral magnesium, and that it is important to ensure you consume a sufficient amount of it daily, blah, blah, blah, but sadly, this is where the conversation ends most times. However, magnesium should be considered the rightful heir to the mineral throne, one that is currently occupied by more well-known characters such as calcium and zinc.

    The truth is, the vast majority of adults are deficient in magnesium, worsened if you are an athlete and do not actively work at increasing your intake. Of course, this can have far-reaching implications on your athletic endeavours, and may be a major cause of the lacklustre results you see from the time you invest in yourself.

    That can all change today, so prepare to have your mind blown by the majestic magnesium.

    How Magnesium Helps Athletes

    Magnesium is one of those minerals that has several bona fide benefits on the body as a whole, but we will try to limit our focus to the benefits most pertinent to you as an athlete. These include:

    Supports Energy Production

    As an avid athlete, you probably know more than the average individual about ATP and its importance in helping to support effective workouts. While this is great, there is a way you can improve the production of this energy currency more than we create alone, and that would be by using magnesium.

    Production of ATP involves several steps, some of which are dependent on enzymes known as ATPases. These enzymes require copious amounts of magnesium to catalyse the reaction necessary to produce ATP[i], so you can see why a deficiency of this mineral can quickly lead to diminished energy levels.

    To put this into perspective, per hour in the gym it is estimated that about 15 kg of ATP is broken down to meet energy requirements, but at any one time only about 100 g is stored. If production cannot meet demand, you are unlikely to complete workouts you had in mind.

    Improves Insulin Sensitivity

    One of the lesser-known, yet very important functions of the mineral magnesium is its ability to help improve the sensitivity of insulin[ii]. This may be especially important in sedentary individuals now embarking on a fitness program, or anyone who possesses a little too much fat and likely poor insulin sensitivity.

    Poor insulin sensitivity and associated hyperglycaemia creates a self-propagating cycle of destruction, since they further deplete magnesium levels in the body. This can often times be reversed with the supplementation of magnesium based supplements, saving you from an early death owing to metabolic disease.

    If you are a hard training bodybuilder or strength athlete, there is much on offer for you as well. By enhancing insulin sensitivity, this hormone becomes extremely efficient at shuttling glucose and amino acids into muscle cells after your workout, helping to put on display the true anabolic potency of insulin.

    Puts The Reins On Cortisol

    Cortisol is well known as the villain of world-class physiques everywhere. From promoting the storage of excessive visceral (abdominal) fat, to actively suppressing testosterone production, we are at the mercy of this hormone.

    Luckily, this is another way magnesium supplementation can help. Best known as the stress hormone, cortisol secretion can be exacerbated by both physical and emotional/psychological stress. Higher levels of the stress hormone in turn lower testosterone and deplete magnesium, causing a cascade of adverse effects.

    Magnesium supplementation modulates the activity of the pituitary gland, in particular the release of ACTH[iii], which downstream stimulates the adrenal glands to increase the production of cortisol. By tempering the release of ACTH, there is no hyper stimulation of the stress hormone, but rather a physiological normal to maintain body processes.

    Improves Sleep

    If you’ve ever used a ZMA supplement before, you might have realized that it contains magnesium as part of its novel formulation. What you may not have realized, is why magnesium is there in the first place.

    See, the utility of magnesium and its role in an almost endless number of biochemical reactions means that it is capable of stimulating, and shutting down several of them, which can help you get more shuteye.

    For instance, magnesium recruits the parasympathetic nervous system, involved in relaxation and calming you, considered the opposite of the sympathetic nervous system in stimulating the body.

    In addition to this, as we previously mentioned by modulating activity of ACTH, it reduces excitatory impulses generated by the adrenal glands, and coupled with its binding affinity for GABA receptors, it promotes a state of sleepiness. Prescription sleep medications sometimes act in the same manner, by binding to the GABA receptor[iv].

    Top this off with the fact that it helps improve the quality of deep restorative sleep, and can regulate the hormone melatonin in your body’s sleep-wake circadian rhythm[v], and you can see why magnesium is likely the best thing ever for sleep.

    Supports Protein Synthesis

    It’s not breaking news that muscle growth occurs outside the gym, but it may be that you don’t fully appreciate how important sleep is to your bottom line. The fact of the matter is that the lion’s share of recovery occurs during shut eye, as cells undergo active repair during deep restorative sleep.

    Did you know which hormone rules the land of sleep? Meet growth hormone. Primarily produced during sleep, this hormone plays a primary role in hyper trophy and cellular repair. Sub optimal sleep corresponds to suboptimal recovery. Since growth hormone levels peak during stage IV slow-wave sleep, you can see how magnesium plays a starring role in maximizing your muscle gain and recuperative ability.

    Magnesium plays an important role in regulation of GH secretion, but its effect seems to be much more notable in combination with zinc as the effective supplement ZMA[vi].

    Other Roles

    While the benefits outlined above can be considered athlete specific, there are many other important functions that rests in its capable hands as well. For instance, the majority of magnesium in the body is stored in bone tissue, and for good reason, since it helps support the structural integrity of the bone matrix. High bone mass density means that your body is able to bear extremely heavy loads without having bones snapping under the pressure (think of 200 kilogram and beyond squats).

    Other noteworthy benefits include supporting healthy mental and cognitive function, managing migraines, optimizing blood pressure and cardiovascular function, as well as supporting healthy electrolyte balance.

    How Much Magnesium?

    Unless you are in an acute state of deficiency, the normal recommended daily intake is between 310 to 420 mg daily, but keep in mind that individual tolerances differ. Some people are more prone to gastrointestinal symptoms than others, so a good rule of thumb is to start with 200 mg daily and adjust from there.

    There also exists several different forms of magnesium, such as the oxide, gylcinate, and threonate varieties. Magnesium oxide is considered standard for most people, but possesses poorest and most unpredictable absorption. This is why gylcinate is considered the gold standard in terms of balancing absorption and pricing, although threonate boasts slightly improved absorption but at an exorbitant cost.

    In Summary

    Magnesium is one of those supplements that isn’t given the recognition it deserves. Hopefully, that changes now considering that you been enlightened to its many important benefits that can help further your progress as an athlete.

    Start today – add 200 mg daily to your supplement regimen and let the results speak for themselves!

    [i] Pilotelle-Bunner A, Cornelius F, Sebban P, Kuchel PW, Clarke RJ. Mechanism of Mg2+ binding in the Na+,K+-ATPase. Biophys J. 2009;96(9):3753–3761. doi:10.1016/j.bpj.2009.01.042

    [ii] Wang J, Persuitte G, Olendzki BC, et al. Dietary magnesium intake improves insulin resistance among non-diabetic individuals with metabolic syndrome participating in a dietary trial. Nutrients. 2013;5(10):3910–3919. Published 2013 Sep 27. doi:10.3390/nu5103910

    [iii] Boyle NB, Lawton C, Dye L. The Effects of Magnesium Supplementation on Subjective Anxiety and Stress-A Systematic Review. Nutrients. 2017;9(5):429. Published 2017 Apr 26. doi:10.3390/nu9050429

    [iv] Poleszak E. Benzodiazepine/GABA(A) receptors are involved in magnesium-induced anxiolytic-like behavior in mice. Pharmacol Rep. 2008 Jul-Aug;60(4):483-9. PubMed PMID: 18799816.

    [v] Durlach J, Pagès N, Bac P, Bara M, Guiet-Bara A. Biorhythms and possiblecentral regulation of magnesium status, phototherapy, darkness therapy and chronopathological forms of magnesium depletion. Magnes Res. 2002

    Mar;15(1-2):49-66. Review. PubMed PMID: 12030424.

    [vi] Wilborn CD, Kerksick CM, Campbell BI, et al. Effects of Zinc Magnesium Aspartate (ZMA) Supplementation on Training Adaptations and Markers of Anabolism and Catabolism. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2004;1(2):12–20. Published 2004 Dec 31. doi:10.1186/1550-2783-1-2-12

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