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WORKOUT SUPPLEMENTS: AN INTRODUCTION TO WHAT WE ALWAYS HEAR, BUT BARELY UNDERSTAND

Date Posted: July 30, 2014
Defined cuts, exploding rip, herculean strength. These adjectives basically mean, SEXY. Apparently, many people are extremely fanatical in achieving the magazine cover model body that entices drool, admiration, and sometimes, envy from peers. Some people dream of having one while lounging on their couch. Some seek scalpel intervention. Some “sort of” do their work outs. Some do their workouts with increasing intensity, duration, and proper diet (or not). And some do their workouts with increasing intensity, duration and proper diet (or not), while being aided with supplements.

Nutritional Supplements, particularly muscle building and weight loss supplements, are some of the staples of many gym aficionados to hasten the result of their muscle build-up and fat burning. Because of the popularity that these supplements are gaining, and the demand that these have created through-out the years, we present the most commonly used workout adjuncts with full objectivity and explanation for your reference.

WHEY vs CASEIN

Many ask which to choose and which weighs more benefits in contrast to the other. Whey is the liquid protein part of the milk and the waste product of cheese manufacturing, while casein is the solid part which makes-up most of the curd. In nutrition, both have high essential amino acids content (building blocks of proteins not manufactured in the body) but the digestion rate differs. Whey is fast digesting and casein is slow digesting. Since whey is naturally fluid, it can be digested easily and dispersion and absorption of essential amino acids will be quicker. Another benefit it gives is higher rate of protein synthesis and muscle build-up, essential for people, particularly athletes, who want to gain lean mass. On the other hand, casein, since it is the solid part and slow digesting, absorption rate is much slower but steadier and long lasting, promoting positive protein balance by decreasing protein breakdown in our muscles.

It is therefore conclusive that both give the same effect but differs in approach. Since whey is fast acting, athletes use this every morning and few minutes after workout, and casein, being slow acting, is used before sleep. To utilize the optimum benefit they can give, it is advisable to use the two-but not, as much as possible, through supplements.

Alternative: Whey is receiving a huge marketing hype as the “gold standard” which consumers bite with no hesitation; while casein is the upcoming star that would rival the former. Both give great results, but unjustly separated from each other. However, ironically, they came from same source--milk.

Milk is comprised of 20% whey, and 80% casein. Aside from that, it can also be a source of carbohydrates and BCAA (for fast muscle recovery)-which is most of the time, though present in these products in small amounts, is sold separately from whey or casein. That’s why milk is basically recommended to be consumed twice a day, morning and before sleep. You can actually enjoy the best of both worlds in a stick, so no need to skip the basics and jump to complexities to achieve your fitness goals.

CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid)

Is a type of linoleic acid, which is a type of Omega-6 Fatty Acid. CLA is commonly found in grass fed cow meat and raw dairy products, coming also from grass-fed animals since strict grass diet to poultry animals is believed to increase CLA to their products. CLA has many benefits that sparked interest to the health conscious. It has been found out that it is a potent anticancer agent and antioxidant. It was also seen eventually as a weight loss aid because it may have a potential as a fat burner since animal tests and later on, human tests results dictate so.

According to its discoverer Dr. Micheal W. Pariza, CLA does not decrease total body weight. Rather, it keeps the small fat cell from getting bigger, therefore, increasing the ratio of muscles against body fat. Further studies suggest that after a person stops doing diet, but still consistent in taking CLA, rebound will not be significant in fat but at a 50-50 fat-to-muscle ratio, compared to 75-25 ratio to non CLA takers.

CLA can be a help in controlling fat tissue expansion in the body. However, this must not be considered as the sweeping factor, rather just an adjunct in achieving leaner body mass.

Alternative: Organic meat, particularly beef and dairy products are good sources. However, in a more realistic point of view, food can be insufficient in providing CLA and can be unsafe if the recommended 3.7 grams a day must be followed. Since CLA comes majority from the fat part of its sources, and daily regular serving of meat does not give enough of it, and consuming big chunks of meat high in saturated fats just to get the recommended daily serving can be detrimental, supplements, surprisingly, is the safest way. But it’s notable that according to Dr. Pariza, “Researches in CLA is still young…it’s something that can help (with weight loss), but certainly there are no miracles”.

L-CARNITINE

L-Carnitine must have been partially introduced to us few years ago, thanks to commercials parading its simplified benefit to weight loss. But how does it actually work? L-Carnitine is a natural substance found in our body. It transports broken down fats to our cells to have them be used as energy. Result it gives is, your glycogen (stored carbohydrates) will be spared and stored fats will be used as energy instead, particularly during long duration aerobic activities.

Because of its perceived benefits, supplement production skyrocketed to realize the hopes of many people of trimming-down their stubborn body fats with lesser effort. Since supplements will provide more L-Carnitine than what our body produces, chances of fat burning will be higher since more fat transporters will be present. With no doubt, extra L-Carnitine can give great results when it comes to weight-loss and energy production and for years, it has enjoyed an uninterpolated status. But according to the recent separate studies conducted by Harvard Medical School and Cleveland Clinic’s Heart and Vascular Institute, L-Carnitine, consumed more than what our body normally needs, is linked to cardiovascular diseases. Even Dr. Memeth Oz of Dr. Oz show, acknowledged this study and withdrawn his support to the supplement. So the question is, will you bank on the short term gratification that it will give?

Alternative: Red meats can be a great source but too much of it, aside from saturated fats, and with accordance to the recent studies conducted, is high in L-Carnitine. So it’s obvious that supplementation might give you worse. Don’t worry, you don’t have to cut-off red meat to your diet. Just have enough amounts and let your body produce what your body only needs.

CREATINE

This substance might be the most complicated to explain when it comes to how it works in our body, so let’s simplify things more. Theoretically, and in a larger view, creatine produces extra boost of energy to make you do more reps to your crunches, and lifts to you dumbbells. In a cellular level, creatine acts as a reservoir for ATP (adenosine triphosphate) production. ATP is used as a fuel supply to your muscles, especially when doing high intensity workouts. So the more reps you do, the more ATP you need. So technically, the more creatine for ATP you have, the more reps you can do.

Creatine is the most widely studied sports supplement to date when it comes to its benefits. Nonetheless, studies when it comes to its safety and recommended dosage to each age group, specifically ages 18 years old and below are still debatable because even though there are no recorded side-effects, using creatine for long term, and the impact it may give is still under study.

Alternatives: Sleep well, increase endurance naturally through proper exercise, and eat properly. Following these simple and basic things will not make you think of having creatine supplements anymore.

STEROIDS

You might say that steroids already received immense bad publicity throughout the years, so no need to antagonize it more. But yes, many are still tempted to do the shortcut and skip the consequences it gives. And sad to say, many are still using it and are trying to justify their use. Anabolic steroids, or just steroids, are patterned to the effects that testosterone gives. Since testosterone is the dominant sex hormone in men that promotes muscle growth and other manly features, steroids, which mirrors testosterone’s effect, promotes the same. Anabolic steroids are not entirely bad; in fact, it is used for patients experiencing muscle wasting, commonly by people with AIDS. But many athletes abuse the use of it just to be notches higher against their competitors. Side-effects? We are definitely aware of them. Shrinking of testicles, decreased sperm count, painful erections among men, excessive hair growth on body and face, deeper “manly” voice, reduced breast size among females. Both can experience oily skin, acne eruptions, mood swings and many more.

Alternative: Have protein high in biologic value in proper amount. Examples of which are milk, eggs, white and red meats and seafood. Though these foods will not guarantee an abrupt and teeming muscle mass, these are safe and even enjoyable to have. Heck, ironically, these foods should not be even considered as alternatives, rather as primary sources!



 
Remember this: Supplements are technically made for people with health concerns and for people who are susceptible to nutrient deficiency in which diet cannot solve alone. Synthetic nutrients that are being made in the lab are still considered incomplete. Every year, experts are still discovering new things about these nutrients that they just incorporating to their past researches. So natural is still way ahead against its synthetic counterpart. If you don’t need one, why even bother to have one? Do not underestimate the capacity of your body to do its best. But if you think that you really need a dose or two, do your research first, ask the experts, and be conscious. Because what you take inside your body, can either give you a positive effect, or an unfavorable conclusion to your life.

By: Romer B. Estrada, RND
Nutritionist
Ringside Fitness

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