Major Key to Lowering Body Fat
By Jose Antonio PhD
In the ongoing search for answers to the mass-building/fat loss challenges, we’ve heard quite a bit of press lately regarding cortisol’s role in this equation. As we continue to investigate and understand this debilitating hormone, here is what we do know: high cortisol levels are profoundly catabolic, in addition to causing other mayhem. Cortisol breaks down body proteins, opposes anabolism, raises blood glucose, contributes to insulin resistance, and generally screws everything up for the aspiring muscle-gainer. All that is in addition to promoting abdominal fat growth (no small matter, especially for those of us over about age 35). And to top it all off, excessive cortisol is also involved in the overtraining syndrome.
For both bodybuilders and the general population, excess cortisol contributes to obesity, insulin resistance, Type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. One study suggested that the rise of cortisol immediately after awakening might be an indicator of an “increased risk of developing serious, prevalent diseases via the metabolic syndrome.”1
Stress and subsequent high cortisol levels can trigger binge eating, which results in central fat accumulation (“beer belly”). Worse yet, the hyper-cortisol response to stress persists even after successful treatment for abdominal fat, suggesting that cortisol might be a primary causal factor.2 (If you’ve found it difficult to maintain a good “six pack” this might be the reason!)
Some researchers have suggested that activation of cortisol secretion is not an irreversible abnormality in people with abdominal fat problems, and that a good diet may help lower cortisol and help keep the abdominal fat from accumulating.3
At any rate, managing cortisol is clearly an important angle for increasing your muscle-to-fat ratio, accelerating muscle gains, and minimizing abdominal fat. This is especially true if you are a “Type A”, high-stress kind of person.
What is Cortisol?
Cortisol is a catabolic hormone produced by the body during times of physical and emotional stress. It is synthesized and released by the adrenal cortex and can lead to numerous detrimental effects, including:
- – Conversion of protein in lean tissue (muscles) into glucose (gluconeogenesis–which breaks down muscle and decreases protein synthesis) – Decreased utilization of glucose and decreased insulin sensitivity
– Increased water retention, because it upsets sodium/potassium balance in the body
– Possible inhibition of growth hormone
– Decreased utilization of fat and fat metabolism
– Compromised immunity
– Impairment of mental functioning and cognitive acuity
For all of the aforementioned reasons, we’ve got to get cortisol under control.
Corralling Cortisol with Supplementation
Fortunately, there are several high-powered supplements that can help tame cortisol.
Supplement Strategy #1: Vitamin C
Linus Pauling, the late Nobel Prize winner, was correct in asserting the importance of supplemental vitamin C. Apart from the many well-known roles it plays (collagen synthesis, antioxidant action, immune function, etc), it also helps to greatly reduce and normalize cortisol levels.
For example, in a study of 45 runners in the 1999 Comrades 90 km marathon, researchers divided subjects into equal groups (15 subjects per group) receiving 500 mg/day vitamin C (VC-500), 1500 mg/day vitamin C (VC-1500) or placebo for 7 days before the race, on the day of the race, and for 2 days following completion. Researchers discovered that the immediate post-race serum cortisol was significantly lower in the VC-1500 group than in the placebo and VC-500 groups. The investigators stated “the study demonstrates an attenuation, albeit transient, of both the adrenal stress hormone and anti-inflammatory polypeptide response to prolonged exercise in runners who supplemented with 1500 mg vitamin C per day when compared to < or = 500 mg per day.”4 Several other studies have shown similar results.
All that is not to mention the general importance of vitamin C for athletes–such as the fact that hard training causes oxidative stress and increases requirements for antioxidants like vitamin C.
Supplement Strategy #2: Omega-Rich Fish Oil
In addition to vitamin C, fatty fish and fish oil (omega-3 fatty acids) are also potent cortisol fighters. In a three week study of seven human volunteers who consumed placebo or 7.2 grams daily of fish oil, plasma epinephrine, cortisol, heart rate, and blood pressure were all significantly blunted in the fish oil/omega-3 group.5
For cortisol reduction and overall health, make it a point to include fatty fish (wild salmon, mackerel, herring and sardines) in your diet, and find a top-quality fish oil supplement to get plenty of the omega-3 fatty acids.
Supplement Strategy #3: Phosphatidylserine
Perhaps the best of this category is a phospholipid (a type of fat with a phosphate molecule attached) called phosphatidylserine. Phosphatidylserine has been shown to dampen the ACTH (adrenocorticotropic hormone) and cortisol response to physical stress.
In one study, scientists investigated the effects of soy lecithin phosphatidic acid and phosphatidylserine complex (PAS) supplementation on pituitary adrenal reactivity (ACTH, cortisol) and on the psychological response to a mental and emotional stressors. Four groups of 20 subjects were treated for three weeks with daily dosages of either 400 mg PAS, 600 mg PAS, 800 mg PAS, or placebo before exposure to the Trier Social Stress Test (TSST). Treatment with 400 mg PAS resulted in a pronounced blunting of both serum ACTH and cortisol, and salivary cortisol responses to the TSST, but did not affect heart rate. Interestingly when they looked at the psychological response, 400 mg PAS seemed to exert a specific positive effect on emotional responses to the TSST.6
Another study investigated the activity of brain cortex-derived phosphatidylserine (BC-PS) on the neuroendocrine and neurovegetative responses to bicycle exercise in 8 healthy men. Before starting the exercise bout, each subject received intravenously, within 10 min, 50 or 75 mg of BC-PS or a volume-matched placebo diluted in 100 ml of saline. They found that pretreatment with both 50 and 75 mg BC-PS significantly blunted the ACTH and cortisol responses to physical stress.7 Yet another study showed that phosphatidylserine (800 mg/d for 10 days) significantly blunted the ACTH and cortisol responses to physical exercise without affecting the rise in plasma GH and PRL.8
Another study investigated the activity of brain cortex-derived phosphatidylserine (BC-PS) on the neuroendocrine and neurovegetative responses to bicycle exercise in 8 healthy men. Before starting the exercise bout, each subject received intravenously, within 10 min, 50 or 75 mg of BC-PS or a volume-matched placebo diluted in 100 ml of saline. They found that pretreatment with both 50 and 75 mg BC-PS significantly blunted the ACTH and cortisol responses to physical stress.7 Keep in mind that this was intravenous administration. Don’t try that at home! But there’s more. Yet another study showed that phosphatidylserine (800 mg/d for 10 days) significantly blunted the ACTH and cortisol responses to physical exercise without affecting the rise in plasma GH and PRL.8
It should be evident that phosphatidylserine is a potent anti-cortisol agent. Certainly, the stress response to exercise is blunted. But phosphatidylserine can also improve mood. For instance, 300 mg daily of phosphatidylserine for a month was associated with feeling less stressed and having a better mood. According to the authors, “the study for the first time reports an improvement in mood following PS supplementation in a sub-group of young healthy adults.”9
By Anssi Manninen, M.H.S.
The human body needs fatty acids and it can make all but two of them: linoleic acid (omega-6 fatty acid) and linolenic acid (omega-3 fatty acid). Given linolenic acid, the body can make the 20- and 22-carbon members of the omega-3 series, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). These omega-3 fatty acids are absolutely critical for normal growth and development and they play a very important role in the prevention and treatment of diseases. It should be noted, however, that only a small amount of linolenic acid is converted to DHA and linolenic acid does not raise blood DHA levels. One of the primary reasons linolenic acid is so poorly converted to EPA and DHA is that it is mostly used for energy.
Fish, especially oily species like mackerel, lake trout, herring and sardines, provide significant amounts of EPA and DHA. A growing body of evidence indicates that these fatty acids can help:
- decrease risk for arrhythmias (an alteration in rhythm of the heartbeat), which can lead to sudden cardiac death.
- decrease risk for thrombosis (the formation or presence of a blood clot within a blood vessel), which can lead to heart attack and stroke.
- decrease triglyceride and remnant lipoprotein levels.
- decrease the rate of growth of atherosclerotic plaque.
- improve endothelial function.
- reduce inflammatory responses.
It is very important to realize that only omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil have cardio-protective properties. A systematic review, published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, concluded that "increased consumption of [omega-3 fatty acids] from fish or fish-oil supplements, but not of [linolenic acid], reduces the rates of all-cause mortality, cardiac and sudden death, and possibly stroke."
Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Athletic Performance
Omega-3 fatty acids have been suggested to be ergogenic (performance-enhancing), not because of their energy content, but because they may elicit favorable physiological effects relative to several types of physical performance. Omega-3 fatty acids can be incorporated into the membrane of red blood cells, making these cells less viscous and less resistant to flow. Less viscous red blood cells and the vasodilative effect may enhance blood flow, facilitating the delivery of blood and thus oxygen and nutrients to the muscle. Another theory is based on the role of certain eicosanoids (by-products of omega-3 fatty acids), which may stimulate the release of growth hormone.
A study by Dr. Derek Huffman and colleagues at the University of Missouri, Columbia, examined the effect of an acute high dose and a chronic low dose of fish oil on fat oxidation (burning) during exercise. The acute high dose fish oil had no significant effect on fat use during exercise. In contrast, chronic supplementation significantly augmented total fat energy expenditure. The study suggests that by increasing fat use during exercise chronic fish oil supplementation may have some ergogenic and fat loss benefits.
Furthermore, recent data suggest that fish oil supplementation has a markedly protective effect in suppressing exercise-induced bronchoconstriction (constriction of the bronchial air passages) in elite athletes, and this may be attributed to their anti-inflammatory properties.
Other Benefits of Fish Oil
Studies indicate that omega-3 fatty acids have benefits in rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and immunoglobulin A nephropathy. Also, there is compelling evidence that diets high in fish oil may protect against the development of Alzheimer’s disease and prostate cancer.
Fish Oil Supplement-Related Nonsense
A poorly written nutrition textbook, misleadingly titled Understanding Nutrition, claims that “Fish oil supplements are not recommended for a number of reasons… Fish oil supplements are made from fish skin and livers, which may contain environmental contaminants.”4 This statement is utter nonsense. Fish oil capsules contain no mercury. Mercury is water-soluble, not oil-soluble, so when the oil is extracted from the fish, the mercury (and other heavy metals) stays behind in the fish meat. Organic pollutants are potentially another concern. However, fish oil concentrates, the most commonly used supplements, are not derived from the liver of fish, but from the muscle, and so they are lower in pollutants than liver oils.1 Consumer Reports wrote, “Our tests of 16 top-selling fish-oil supplements were reassuring: All those pills contained roughly as much EPA and DHA as their labels promised. None showed evidence of spoilage, and none contained significant amounts of mercury, the worrisome PCBs, or dioxin.”
ProSource Omega-1250 – The Number 1 Source for EPA and DHA
ProSource Omega-1250 contains a whopping 450 milligrams of EPA and 300 milligrams of DHA of from the highest-quality deep sea cold water source per softgel capsule, making it the number 1 source for this heart-healthy nutrient. As the regular fish oil capsules dissolve in the stomach and release the oil, many people experience a “fishy burp.” Fortunately, Omega-1250 has a natural lemon flavor minimizing or even eliminating this problem. I take two capsules of Omega-1250 every day and I have never had any problems with fishy burps.
A Sample Supplementation Program for Cardio-Protection
- 2 capsules of Omega-1250
- 1 capsule of Super Vitamin C
- 1 capsule of Vitamin E
- 1 capsule of Ultra Lycopene*
Important notice: Consult a licensed healthcare professional before starting this supplementation program if you are taking any medication, or if you have any medical condition.
*A recent study indicated that lycopene supplemenentation also protects muscle tissue from oxidative stress after exhaustive exercise (Br J Nutr. 2005 Oct;94(4):595-601).
About Anssi Manninen Anssi Manninen holds an M.H.S. in sports medicine from the University of Kuopio Medical School. His numerous cutting-edge articles in Muscular Development firmly established his reputation as a leading authority on hard-core sports nutrition. Anssi?s articles have also been published in scientific journals, including The British Journal of Sports Medicine, The Journal of International Society of Sports Nutrition, Metabolic Syndrome and Related Disorders, Nutrition & Metabolism, and Journal of Sports Science and Medicine. Anssi is also an Associate Editor for Nutrition & Metabolism, a leading scientific journal in the area of nutritional biochemistry.
Harris WS. Fish oil supplementation: evidence for health benefits. Cleve Clin J Med. 2004 Mar;71(3):208-10, 212, 215-8 passim.
Harris WS. Are omega-3 fatty acids the most important nutritional modulators of coronary heart disease risk? Curr Atheroscler Rep. 2004 Nov;6(6):447-52.
Gebauer SK et al. n-3 fatty acid dietary recommendations and food sources to achieve essentiality and cardiovascular benefits. Am J Clin Nutr. 2006 Jun;83(6 Suppl):1526S-1535S.
Harris WS, Bulchhandani D. Why do omega-3 fatty acids lower serum triglycerides? Curr Opin Lipidol. 2006 Aug;17(4):387-93.
Richardon AJ. Omega-3 fatty acids in ADHD and related neurodevelopmental disorders. Int Rev Psychiatry. 2006 Apr;18(2):155-72.
Wancg C et al. n-3 Fatty acids from fish or fish-oil supplements, but not alpha-linolenic acid, benefit cardiovascular disease outcomes in primary- and secondary-prevention studies: a systematic review. Am J Clin Nutr. 2006 Jul;84(1):5-17.
Huffman DM, Michaelson JL, Thomas TR. Chronic supplementation with fish oil increases fat oxidation during exercise in young men. J Exerc Physiol 2004;7:48-56.
Mickleborough TD et al. Protective effect of fish oil supplementation on exercise-induced bronchoconstriction in asthma. Chest. 2006 Jan;129(1):39-49.
Apr 30, 2007 General Health & Fitness
Anssi Manninen, M.H.S.
The Underappreciated Role of Proteins in Human Health
Did you know that:
The anabolic effects of resistance exercise are amplified by amino acids or protein.
Higher protein/lower carbohydrate diet favorably affects body mass and composition independent of energy intake (“metabolic advantage”).
High protein intake plays a key role in weight management, through (i) increased satiety, (ii) its effect on thermogenesis, (iii) body composition, and (iv) decreased energy efficiency.
Prospective epidemiologic observations indicate that higher protein intake is associated with increased bone mineral mass and reduced incidence of osteoporotic fractures.
Exchanging protein for carbohydrate significantly reduces LDL cholesterol (“bad cholesterol”) and triacylglycerol (harmful blood lipid) levels and increases HDL cholesterol (“good cholesterol”).
Higher consumption of protein has been inversely associated with blood pressure in several studies, i.e., protein decreases blood pressure.
It is possible to improve blood sugar control in people with type 2 diabetes by increasing protein intake while decreasing carbohydrate intake (and without weight loss).
Higher protein intake has no adverse effects on healthy kidneys, liver or fluid status.
Well, the first one was easy. Physique athletes have known for years what science is now showing: the anabolic effects of resistance training are clearly amplified by amino acids or protein. The second one was also relatively easy thanks to popular high-protein diets (e.g., Zone diet). However, the other points may come as a surprise to some. But who can blame them when many health care professionals and even some scientists cannot get it straight, even though it takes about 10 seconds to find such evidence from PubMed.
All Proteins Are Not Created Equal
Not all proteins are of equal nutritional value; this reflects their differing amino acid content. Most dietary proteins contain most of the 20 or so amino acids; however, these are present in widely differing proportions. So-called “complete proteins” contain all of the essential amino acids in sufficient amounts to maintain life and support growth. In general, plant proteins are deficient in one or more essential amino acids while animal proteins contain all of the essential amino acids. A lack of essential amino acids in the diet results in a variety of adverse effects that depend on the degree and length of deficiency.
Whey protein has been singled out as the ultimate source of protein based on an excellent amino acid profile. Whey may offer other benefits too (e.g., enhanced immunity). More information on whey protein is provided at the end of this article.
Ignore Protein DRIs
Although a real amino acid defiency is extremely rare in the US, a growing body of evidence indicates that many individuals (especially the elderly) are not getting enough quality protein to optimize physical and metabolic functions of muscle. This may have something to do with the misleading protein recommendations, i.e., Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs). DRIs are entirely based on nitrogen balance measures. While use of nitrogen balance may be appropriate for establishing the amino acid requirements necessary to prevent deficiency, it is clearly inadequate to establish intakes that are optimal for maximizing muscle mass, strength, and metabolic functions.
As pointed out by Dr. Robert Wolfe in the latest issue of American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, "there is no necessary relation between nitrogen balance and any variable of muscle mass or function… the amount of protein needed to maintain lean body mass is likely below that needed to optimize physical and metabolic functions of muscle." So, when it comes to optimal muscle function, protein DRIs are meaningless. For serious athletes who wish to maximise muscle mass and strength, I recommend about 2 – 2.5 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight. For those who are only moderatelty active, I recommend about 1.5 grams per kilogram.
NytroWhey Extreme – The Ultimate Whey Protein Isolate
All whey proteins have an excellent amino acid profile but they are still not created equal. Cross-flow micro-filtered (CFM) whey protein isolate is the cleanest form of whey protein known to mankind. CFM whey is virtually fat and lactose free and has a pleasant taste. Cross-flow micro-filtration is a high-tech manufacturing process that uses ceramic filters to remove undesirable materials, so protein is not subjected to chemicals, therefore protein is left unharmed. CFM whey isolate offers at least the following benefits over ion-exchange whey isolate:
- More calcium and less sodium.
- Contains some proteins fractions (e.g., glycomacropeptides) that are important for the immune system.
- The highest level of undenatured protein available (99%).
NytroWhey Extreme’s sole source of protein is a CFM whey protein isolate. However, it is not just a whey protein powder. NytroWhey Extreme is enriched with glutamine peptides, arginine-alpha-ketoglutarate (AKG), and DigeZyme enzymes (amylase, protease, cellulase, beta-D-galactosidase, lactase, lipase). So, NytroWhey Extreme is a true Rolls-Royce of whey protein supplements!
However, I recommend that you ingest a serving of BioQuest MyoZene immediately after resistance training, because it contains hydrolyzed (pre-digested) whey protein, which is absorbed more rapidly than intact whey protein isolates. Also, I would suggest that you take in a serving of ProSource NytroPlex before bed, as it contains slow-acting proteins (in addition to CFM whey isolate).
A Sample Protein/Amino Acid Supplementation Program for a Serious Strength-Power Athlete
- 2 servings of NytroWhey Extreme daily between meals
- Pre-Exercise: 1 serving of ProSource MyoSurge or 8 capsules of Mega BCAA
- Post-Exercise: 1 serving of MyoZene
- Before bed: 1 serving of NytroPlex
Important notice: If you have a kidney or liver disease, consult your doctor before starting this supplementation program.
About Anssi Manninen Anssi Manninen holds an M.H.S. in sports medicine from the University of Kuopio Medical School. His numerous cutting-edge articles in Muscular Development firmly established his reputation as a leading authority on hard-core sports nutrition. Anssi’s articles have also been published in scientific journals, including The British Journal of Sports Medicine, The Journal of International Society of Sports Nutrition, Metabolic Syndrome and Related Disorders, Nutrition & Metabolism, and Journal of Sports Science and Medicine. Anssi is also an Associate Editor for Nutrition & Metabolism, a leading scientific journal in the area of nutritional biochemistry.
Manninen AH. Hyperinsulinemia, hyperaminoacidemia and post-exercise muscle anabolism: the search for the optimal recovery drink. Br J Sports Med. 2006 Sep 1; [Epub ahead of print].
Tipton KD, Wolfe RR. Protein and amino acids for athletes. J Sports Sci. 2004 Jan;22(1):65-79.
Coburn JW et al. Effects of leucine and whey protein supplementation during eight weeks of unilateral resistance training. J Strength Cond Res. 2006 May;20(2):284-91.
Krieger JW et al. Effects of variation in protein and carbohydrate intake on body mass and composition during energy restriction: a meta-regression. Am J Clin Nutr. 2006 Feb;83(2):260-74.
Westerterp-Platenga S et al. Protein intake and body-weight regulation. Appetite. 2005 Oct;45(2):187-90.
Bonjour JP. Dietary protein: an essential nutrient for bone health. J Am Coll Nutr. 2005 Dec;24(6 Suppl):526S-36S.
Hu FB. Protein, body weight, and cardiovascular health. Am J Clin Nutr. 2005 Jul;82(1 Suppl):242S-247S.
Gannon MC, Nuttall FQ. Control of blood glucose in type 2 diabetes without weight loss by modification of diet composition. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2006 Mar 23;3:16.
Martin WF et al. Dietary protein intake and renal function. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2005 Sep 20;2:25.
Martin WF et al. Effects of dietary protein intake on indexes of hydration. J Am Diet Assoc. 2006 Apr;106(4):587-9.
Di Pasquale MG. Amino Acids and Proteins for the Athlete: The Anabolic Edge. CRC Press, 1997.
Wolfe RR. The underappreciated role of muscle in health and disease. Am J Clin Nutr. 2006 Sep;84(3):475-82.
Ha E, Zemel MB. Functional properties of whey, whey components, and essential amino acids: mechanisms underlying health benefits for active people (review). J Nutr Biochem. 2003 May;14(5):251-8.
Yalcin AS. Emerging therapeutic potential of whey proteins and peptides. Curr Pharm Des. 2006;12(13):1637-43.
By Dr. Dwayne N. Jackson, Ph.D.
The understanding of the mind-body relationship has come a long way since the beginning of Cartesian dualism. In fact, we can all pretty much agree that, in order for optimal performance to occur, we must have both the mind and body ticking like a fine Swiss timepiece. Since you are reading this, one thing is most likely certain, you have already made an effort to get your body looking and working perfectly. However, very few active people ever wonder whether their mind is holding them back from achieving their potential. This article will discuss a number of supplements that act to optimize the mind-body relationship and enable you to reach holistic supremacy.
Tyrosine is a naturally occurring amino acid that is the precursor to the endogenous production of many important neurotransmitters (i.e., norepinephrine, epinephrine, and dopeamine). These neurotransmitters play pivotal roles in fat burning and weight-loss but also conduct a plethora of internal chemical reactions associated with, motivation, mood, attention, alertness, motor activity, and anxiety. Stress (physical, environmental, emotional, etc) can severely impact the turnover of these neurotransmitters in the brain such that transmitter levels decline as stress prevails (supply cannot meet demand). It has been suggested that this decline is due to a limit in neurotransmitter production by the precursor substance tyrosine.
Interestingly, research clearly illustrates the benefits of L-tyrosine ingestion in combating the adverse effects of stress. In a double-blind placebo controlled study, commissioned by the US Army Research institute, 23 US Army personnel were exposed twice to two levels of environmental stress (cold and hypoxia) for 4.5 hrs per trial. It was concluded that tyrosine ingestion (50mg/kg twice per day) reversed the symptoms of stress (headache, coldness, distress, fatigue, muscular discomfort), were beneficial to all aspects of mood state ( clear thinking, unhappiness, dizziness, hostility, confusion, fatigue, tension), and augmented measures of mental performance, reaction-time, and vigilance performance (Banderet & Lieberman, 1989). It is clear that L-tyrosine supplementation can help you manage stress while maintaining a serious workout regime, as we all know that mental stress blunts gains in the gym.
Citidine 5′-diphosphocholine (CDP-choline)
Citidine (or cytidine) 5′-diphosphocholine, is a relatively new player in the supplement industry. Its role is as an intermediate in the synthesis of structural phospholipids in cell membranes, particularly phosphatidylcholine. Ingestion results in virtually complete absorption and bioavailability and very soon after ingestion citicoline is distributed throughout the body and reaches the central nervous system (CNS). Citicoline increases brain metabolism, and has been experimentally shown to increase norepinephrine and dopamine levels in the CNS. Based on its unique pharmacological mechanisms, citicoline provides neuroprotection during stress conditions and improves learning and memory performance (Secades & Lorenzo, 2006). The increased levels of norepinephrine and dopamine in the brain enables us to maintain focus under conditions of stress (i.e., mental, physical, environmental) and assists in curbing your appetite. Additionally, with citicoline supplementation, you can expect increased focus, motivation, mental performance, reaction-time, and sense of well-being.
Everyone who works out early in the morning or after work knows the benefits of a strong cup of coffee (or a few caffeine pills) before hitting the gym. In fact, that caffeine hit can make the difference between going to the gym and not going to the gym. But did you know that the effects of caffeine on the brain may decrease muscle soreness after a work out? In a recent double blind placebo controlled study from the University of Georgia it was found that caffeine ingestion (approximately 300mg) before maximal voluntary isometric contraction reduced muscular pain intensity by almost 50%. The authors hypothesize that this dramatic decrease in muscular pain is due to caffeine’s ability to bind to adenosine receptors that blunt nociception (pain sensation) in the brain (Maridakis et al., 2007). To put this finding in perspective, a previous study concluded that the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory Naproxen had only a 30% reduction in post-exercise muscle soreness (Dudley et al., 1997).
Green Tea Extract
Green tea contains high concentrations of pharmacologically bioactive polyphenols including: epigallocatechin, epicatechin, epicatechin gallate, and epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) (Kao et al., 2000). By now you should know that green-tea extract is a potent fat-burner and antioxidant. However, many of you may not realize the positive impact that green-tea extract has on the central nervous system and performance. In a recent and detailed study, Vignes et al. concluded that EGCG supplementation can reverse states of anxiety. In fact, the authors claim that the anxiolytic effects of EGCG supplementation are equipotent to prescription therapies (Vignes et al., 2006).This is a huge benefit for sports athletes, as pre-game anxiety means death to even the most promising careers.
It is clear that we can optimize our performance and gains if we feed our brains as well as our bodies. Once the brain is in-tune with the body (and vice versa) you will be able to run faster, jump higher, lift heavier and feel good while doing it. Of note, most of the supplements I have discussed in this article also have direct influences on the body (e.g., fat-burning, muscular strength). Imagine feeling great, having increased focus, decreased feelings of stress and muscle soreness and, all the while, lifting heavier and melting fat off your body. Now wouldn’t it be miraculous if a company was intuitive enough to design a formulation that included all of these substances? Well, hold on to your seat because the scientists at ProSource have done it again with their product Provadex. Always remember to feel as good as you look!
Banderet LE & Lieberman HR (1989). Treatment with tyrosine, a neurotransmitter precursor, reduces environmental stress in humans. Brain Res Bull 22, 759-762.
Dudley GA, Czerkawski J, Meinrod A, Gillis G, Baldwin A, & Scarpone M (1997). Efficacy of naproxen sodium for exercise-induced dysfunction muscle injury and soreness. Clin J Sport Med 7, 3-10.
Kao YH, Hiipakka RA, & Liao S (2000). Modulation of endocrine systems and food intake by green tea epigallocatechin gallate. Endocrinology 141, 980-987.
Maridakis V, O’Connor PJ, Dudley GA, & McCully KK (2007). Caffeine attenuates delayed-onset muscle pain and force loss following eccentric exercise. J Pain 8, 237-243.
Secades JJ & Lorenzo JL (2006). Citicoline: pharmacological and clinical review, 2006 update. Methods Find Exp Clin Pharmacol 28 Suppl B, 1-56.
Vignes M, Maurice T, Lante F, Nedjar M, Thethi K, Guiramand J, & Recasens M (2006). Anxiolytic properties of green tea polyphenol (-)-epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). Brain Res 1110, 102-115.
Apr 19, 2007 Product Reviews
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–Muscle & Fitness
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–Fitness Rx for Women
“When it comes to serious thermogenic power, Tetrazene ES-50 is a #1 recommendation for rapid and significant results.”