Archive for the ‘Supplements’ Category

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Imagine feeling like Arnie, Rocky and the Hulk all in one with enhanced strength, motivation, energy and drive. Well that was my experience of using Anabolic Designs pre workout supplement Aminotaur for the first time, and the second and ever since. When my trainer, Jordan Peters (awesome guy, check him out on facebook) told me to take it I didn’t question him but assumed it would be like all the previous ones I’ve tried (I’ve tried superpump 250, jack3d, no explode and good old coffee). How I was wrong…

I take 2 scoops pre workout and 1 scoop intra and in about 15 minutes I enter a state of euphoric awesomeness where all I want to do is my workout. All other thoughts leave my mind, I just know what I need to do and how to do it and I am BUZZING! ALL of my lifts increase by a significant amount and I have energy throughout the entire workout (no slump half way through) when taking the stuff (be it placebo or physiological, either way I’m not complaining). Even when my workout finishes and my muscles are fried my mind still wants more and I don’t feel tired afterwards (physically I do, not mentally), most importantly I don’t get that after workout crash which most pre workouts cause in my experience. So for my clients for the rest of the day I talk at 100mph, feel energised and clear minded…I felt like I had taken that nzt pill from the film limitless.

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You might be thinking “whose paying him to write such a biased review” “hasn’t he got anything bad to say about it” but to tell you the truth (believe me if you want) I just haven’t ever experienced anything like it before, my body just responds so well to it….will it respond for everyone as well, chances are no. Plus I’ve only been in the game for 4 months (eating and training perfectly) so my knowledge and experience of products is about as well nourished as the majority of the UK population – take that as you will.

Moving on from my experiences and lets dig deep into how they’ve managed, In my opinion, one of the best pre workout supplements around. I’m going to look at what I consider as the key ingredients:

PERFORMANCE BLEND
First up is their ‘performance blend’ which consists of 5000mg of AAKG, leucine, l-carnitine, l-tartrate, HICA, isoleucine, Valine. All of which claim to help in endurance, recovery, growth, blood flow and fat metabolism so lets break the key ingredients down to see how and if this is true;

– AAKG (arginine alphaketoglutarate) – has been marketed as a vasodilator in recent years and seems to becoming more popular within pre workout supplements. AAKG is said to work via the up-regulation of the endothelial L-Arginine-Nitric-Oxide pathway (for all you science geeks out there), in other words blood can get pumped to the working muscles more efficiently resulting in enhanced strength and hypertrophy (due to nitric oxide signalling to enhance vascular tone to working muscles during exercise). Despite the research seeming to swing both ways (as research ALWAYS will) there are plenty of people raving about its effects with a simple google search. AAKG in my view gets the nod.

– leucine – I don’t want to go into any detail with this one as we should know about its benefits by now (enchanted protein synthesis being the key one) however what I would be interested In finding out is the amount of leucine in each scoop. Leucine definitely gets the nod.

– HICA (Alfa-hydroxy-isocaproic acid) this is an end product of leucine metabolism and is allegedly an anti-catabolic substance. It has been suggested to reduce delayed onset of muscle soreness (DOMS). Also promotes anabolism (muscle growth). The metabolites from leucine and their effects (HMB is another I believe) have only recently began to surface and HICA is becoming more and more popular. From what the research suggests, it’s a must for a pre workout stack if you want to maintain/build muscle. I’m still digging around to understand the physiology behind this ingredient, which looks very interesting, so I’m sure ill be able to expand on it in the future. But not right now 🙂

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NEUROFIRE BLEND
Then there’s the neuro fire blend (1255mg) which is comprised of tyrosine, green tea extract (non caffeinated), bacopa monniera, ashwagandha root and hyperzine A. All aimed to increase mind/muscle connectivity and alertness. The use of nootropics have become more and more popular (nootropics are any drug/supplement/food/nutraceutical that enhances mental function – in this case alertness and connectivity) and as they’re not caffeine based there isn’t the associated post activity crash (bit like sugar rush from any simple carbohydrate).

I have had a small amount of experience with nootropics back at university using aniracetam, piracetam, oxiracetam, pramiracetam, vinpocetine and DMAE (choline source, not nootropic). However I was also a student so my diet probably didn’t let me experience their full potential. But I did get awesome effects from them for the gym and for my studies.

Bacopa monniera – apart from the health benefits such as inhibiting the oxidation of LDL and VLDL as well as improving certain behavioural problems such as attention disorders and speech defects. It is also awesome at improving mental sharpness and alertness via the frontal cortical muscarinic cholinergic receptor activity (check out http://www.mindnutriton.com for a better explanation than what I’m probably giving). Therefore it has properties which improves memory, concentration and overall mental performance.

Ashwagandha – considered as an adaptogen “herbs that improves energy and athletic ability”. It’s also been shown to improve immunity (increased white blood cells), improves anxiety and has protective effects on the nervous system. Importantly it has a beneficial effect on cortisol and has been shown to help alleviate chronic cortisol levels with studies suggesting improved energy, sleep and less fatigue in participants.

I will look more into nootropics and the positive effects it has mentally soon, from previous experience I have found enhanced cognitive function from vinpocetine, aniracetam and a choline source resulting in improved workouts.

– vinpocetine – has been shown to improve memory, improve brain circulation, improved awareness, increase brain blood flow to and from the brain and aids in helping to remove free radicals and toxicity from the brain. Therefore, I believe, may be worthwhile researching and considering to also supplement with.

– aniracetam – improves focus, memory and relaxes you to allow for better cognitive and physical function.

– choline source – e.g. DMAE and alpha GPC, stimulates production of choline and results in production of acetylcholine in the brain. ACl works in the peripheral and and central nervous system, some of the functions include aiding in muscle function and decision making.

I hope this review has firstly made sense as its my first one Ive ever written, secondly given you an insight into the ingredients which makes up this awesome product. I would STRONGLY recommend giving this product a go as it definitely does what it says on the tin.

On a constructive note, I would appreciate feedback and comments on anything you feel like I’ve missed so I can improve next time I write a review.

Sources for information
http://www.mindnutrition.com
http://www.anabolic-designs.com
http://www.wikipedia.org (yeah yeah unreliable I know…)
– various other google sites for checking information (didn’t take note, sorry!)

Dream. Believe. Achieve!

Think about all the previous times that you’ve been injured and your mum, coach,doctor or physiotherapist said to just go away and rest the injury, usually followed by recommending ice, compression and elevation. The old school ‘rice’ recommendation.

Now imagine if someone told you to go and increase your olive oil, red meat and vegetable intake you’d be thinking they’ve been smoking Amsterdam’s finest. But, in reality, it’s potentially useful information when applied correctly.

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When we get injured we go through stages of inflammation which help to recover and rebuild the injured site (be it a tendon, muscle or ligament problem for example). We get a wide variety of different enzymes and hormones which will come into the site and out of it to help lay down, take away and strengthen anything which needs to be. Now where do we get these enzymes and hormones from? Two places…firstly what our body creates, secondly what we put into ourselves (see my article on the nutrition basics to get an understanding of this).

But before we get into that we need to understand the process the body goes through straight after an injury and during rehabilitation. Firstly we will look at soft tissue injury and repair:

Stage 1: inflammation
This is referring to the acute version (4-5 days post injury) rather than the chronic version of inflammation which lasts for lengthy periods of time and is destructive to our tissue. This is the period when our very clever bodies clear out the damaged and dead cells and start to lay down new ones. It is considered as a mechanism of innate immunity (first line of defence) and involves the increased movement of plasma and leukocytes from the blood to the injured area…causing a cascade of biochemical events which is going to be important in a later part of this article.

Pain, swelling, redness and heat all signify inflammation however shouldn’t be interpreted as something bad as it is our body healing itself (hence why taking NSAIDs immediately after an injury isn’t advised). However prolonged inflammation is detrimental and means that something isn’t working correctly so needs to be sorted!

Stage 2: proliferation
This starts just as the first stage is finishing. The majority of the damaged tissue will be removed and new tissue will have come in, but won’t be very strong. Oxygen and nutrient flow should have restored allowing collagen and fibronectin to be laid down, commonly known as scar tissue. Scar tissue is the building blocks of the new muscles being laid down, the force in which you place now on this injured site will dictate/influence the alignment of the new forming tissue. The scar tissue is contracting on a daily basis once it has started and brings the wound closer together, hence why wounds get smaller during rehabilitation!

Stage 3: remodelling
This is when the initial scare tissue (collagen and fibronectin) gets replaced with newer and stronger collagen to make the site stronger (it will be about 80% as strong as the previous tissue but that’s better then nothing). This period can last up to 2 years (even longer in bones!) so efficient and clever rehabilitation and training strategies will ensure a good recovery.

Bone remodelling:
It has similar stages to soft tissue injury however the length of time is usually longer for recovery. Callus formation is the main difference in this injury as it is used to create new bone which soft tissue obviously doesn’t need. Bone strength and shape can be nearly returned to previous condition also after injury! All good news despite the inconvenience of the actual injury!

Why tell me that? Your boring me now!
I can appreciate that what I’ve just told you is either 1) really boring and too complicated for you OR 2) you already new you so I just wasted your time 🙂 either way its my blog and this is how I chose to write it….but here’s what I know your desperate to here (desperate is probably an exaggeration).

How can we NUTRITIONALLY optimise the above response to ensure a safe and more efficient recovery (let me point out I am not about to state that you can Speed any of the above processes as these things take time but you can optimise the recovery period).

There are three points to consider:
1) how to manage the inflammatory period
2) how to support immune function
3) how to help the long term repair and regeneration of new tissue

INFLAMMATORY PERIOD
Remember we WANT this to occur as it will allow recovery so trying eliminate it will be costly. In a review by Hertel (1) it was found that the use of NSAIDs immediately post injury caused greater muscle healing and function short term however long term it was seemed to delay the inflammatory process, causing longer rehabilitation and less efficient recovery. So what do we want to do? Manage the inflammatory process to ensure a smooth transfer from stage 1 to 2.

Dietary fats should be your first thought for this stage, the majority of people are deficient in omega 3 and have to much omega 6. Now too much omega 6 causes what? You guessed it, excessive inflammation which means potentially a disrupted stage 1. Therefore consider the following:
1) supplement with omega 3 daily (3-9g)
2) decrease your omega 6 consumption (vegetable oil, sunflower oil, processed foods, soy)
3) increase your monounsaturated (MCT) fats such as nuts, seeds, olive oil and avocados (has been suggested to repress pro-inflammatory genes (2))
4) the use of herbs and phytochemicals such as garlic, turmeric, bromelian, flavanoids should be considered as they all have proven anti-inflammatory effects.

*just remember you don’t want to stop inflammation, just control it so dont go overboard on your omega 3

CALORIC INTAKE FOR STAGES 2-3
What do you think will happen if your immobilised/inactive for a lengthy period of time? You’ll waste away, lose all your muscle and lose everything you’ve trained for – not really but that hopefully woke you up a bit. You will lose weight, decrease strength and atrophy as your body will only keep what is necessary (natural homeostatic adaptation – don’t keep onto what we don’t use). However is it possible to limit these losses? Of corse! Will you have to eat more despite doing less activity? Definitely.

Winthrop et al (3) conducted a study looking at basal metabolic rate (BMR) and protein turnover and concluded that post injury BMR went up by a significant 15% and protein synthesis increased by 93%. There is an alteration in the internal environment/composition of the body reflected in electrolyte metabolism, energy and intermediary metabolism and endocrine function (4). Due to the increased stress (injured site) the body requires more nutrients and minerals to assist in repair and remain functioning to its day to day rate. Therefore overall caloric intake should be increased by around 15-20% to assist the body during the repair states (especially stages 1 and 2).

Anabolism is the process of building muscle, however due to decreased activity overall net protein balance becomes negative and catabolism (protein breakdown) dominates. Therefore it has been suggested that increased protein intake is required in order to increase the rate of protein synthesis to around 1.5g/kg bodyweight.

Fat intake has been previously discussed and you should be looking to balance out your omega 3 and 6 ratio. Finally, carbohydrates which aren’t essential (see my nutrition basics article) should be considered to help regulate insulin. The more stable your blood glucose levels the more efficient you’ll be. Insulin is known for being one of the most anabolic hormones in the body so the theory is control insulin then help control repair and growth.

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MICRONUTRIENTS DURING INJURY REPAIR
Vitamins: any group of organic compounds that are essential for normal growth and nutrition and are required in small quantities in the diet
Minerals: a solid inorganic substance of natural occurrence

Now imagine if we were deficient in any vitamins and minerals, optimum growth would be hindered. Guess what….we are all deficient somewhere in the body (which is normal so don’t freak out), however for improved overall health and well being we should strive to balance out any deficiencies to alleviate any stress for our body to allow homeostasis to occur.

Vitamin A- Gives inflammatory support, assists in collagen remodelling and reverses post injury immune suppression…beautiful stuff!

Vitamin c – enhances neutrophil and lymphocyte activity (stage 1), assists in collagen remodelling, antioxidant and immune system modulator

Zinc – zinc has hundreds of different functions within the body, protein synthesis, DNA synthesis and cell division are all influenced by zinc which are all necessary for tissue remodelling and repair

Other micronutrients which may have an effect: leucine, arginine, copper, glutamine and HMB, however I haven’t got the time at the moment to research all of these and the links no the recommendations so I will leave that down to you (or probably myself at a later date).

Here is an example of a daily nutrition plan for someone who has recently undergone surgery and is looking at 3-4 months out:

Assuming a 80kg male

Breakfast: 50g oats in water with 2 eggs mixed in + 50g blueberries + 3G omega 3

Meal 2: 100g chicken + 1 avocado + 100g vegetables + 10g walnuts

Meal 3: 150g salmon + green vegetables + 3G omega 3

Meal 4: 150g chicken + vegetables + 50g rice

Meal 5: 250g mince + vegetables + 10g walnuts

Pre bed: 150g full fat Greek yoghurt

Optional supplements:
– vitamin A: 10,000IU a day (first 4 weeks post injury)
– zinc: 20mg a day (first 4 weeks post injury)
– vitamin c: 1-2g a day (first 4 weeks post injury)
– glutamine 10g morning and night

I hope this gives you a fresh perspective of nutrition at all times in your lives and not just for enhancing performance. A healthy body is a healing body and will grow and become stronger so much more easily than an unhealthy one.

Dream, believe, achieve 🙂

1) Hertel, J (1997). The role of non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs in the treatment of acute soft tissue injuries. The journal of athletic training, 32(4), 350-358.

2) Rahman, I., Biswas, S.K., & Kirkham, P.A. (2006). Regulation of inflammation and redox signalling by dietary polyphenols. Journal of biochemical pharmacology, 72, 1439-1452.

3) Winthrop, A.L., Wesson D.E., Pencharz, P.B., Jacobs, D.G., Heim, T & Filler, R.M. Injury severity, whole body protein turnover, and energy expenditure in paediatric trauma. Journal of paediatric surgery, 22(6), 534-547.

4) Moore, F.D & Ball, M.R. (1952). The metabolic response to injury, Springfield, USA: Thomas Roe, C.F (1966). Monographs in surgical sciences (3), 85.