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03.07.2014, admin  
Category: Nutrition Plan

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I began my weight training and fit lifestyle the summer before my senior year of high school.
If I hoped to compete on a regular basis, I needed a starting point to gauge my progress and pinpoint my weaknesses. All the major supplement companies claim to have the best supplements for muscle growth…and most are lying. I was at Vitamin Shoppe the other day and I figured I’d take at look at the fancy stuff they keep locked up in the back. As usual, the cabinet was packed full of loud, shiny bottles that claimed to contain revolutionary natural muscle builders. They’re little more than placebo pills and powders and anything you might think is happening is merely a confirmation of how the mind can affect the body. Which supplements do and don’t help you build muscle faster and why, and how to get the most muscle-building bang for your supplement buck.
In the spirit of full disclosure, I want you to know that the supplements I recommend in this article are not just what I personally use but they are from my supplement line, LEGION. That’s why I decided to create the products I myself have always wanted: science-based formulations, clinically effective dosages of all ingredients, no fillers or unnecessary junk, and natural sweetening and flavoring. You can learn more about LEGION and my goal to change the supplement industry for the better here. It’s because of people like you that I get to spend my time writing articles like this that help others get into the best shape of their lives.
With testosterone levels generally on the decline, natural testosterone boosters have quickly become of the biggest sellers for supplement companies. The first point is self-explanatory: the ingredients in the products either have no evidence to support their use or have actually been proven to be ineffective in raising testosterone levels. For example, three of the most popular ingredients in these supplements are Tribulus terrestris, ZMA, and D-aspartic acid. Multiple studies have proven that supplementation with Tribulus terrestris has no effect on testosterone levels, body composition, or exercise performance. Research was published in 2009 that shows that D-aspartic acid could increase testosterone levels in both humans and rats, and supplement companies had a field day.
Bottles flew off the shelves as guys tried to get any and every muscle-building edge possible. Well, two more studies on D-aspartic acid supplementation have been published since the 2009 one, and they help put this amino acid into perspective. That is, if your testosterone levels are right-down-the-middle normal, and you increase them to a high-normal, you may feel a little better and notice a boost in libido…but it won’t enable you to build more muscle. For example, a study conducted by researchers at McMaster University investigated if the acute hormonal changes that happen during weightlifting affect muscle and strength gains. The subjects were young, resistance trained men, and they did 5 weightlifting workouts per week and followed a standard “bodybuilding” diet. After 12 weeks, scientists found that exercise-induced spikes in anabolic hormones like testosterone, growth hormone, and IGF-1 had no effect on overall muscle growth or strength gains.
That is, the size of the hormonal responses seen in the subjects varied widely but there was no significant difference in terms of muscle and strength gains. This involved manipulating the testosterone levels of 61 young, healthy men using a combination of testosterone and drugs to inhibit natural testosterone production.
The strength and power gains would have been higher if subjects had been weightlifting, of course, but it’s telling nonetheless. And just to lend further perspective on the matter, let’s review a bit of steroid research. Muscle gains in people lifting weights on steroids ranged between 4.5 and 11 pounds over the short term (less than 10 weeks).
The largest amount of muscle gain over the short term was 15.5 pounds over the course of 6 weeks. Even when you blast your testosterone through the roof with drugs and add additional anabolic steroids on top, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to gain “shocking” amounts of muscle. So, all this is why natural testosterone boosters are just a waste of money and will never deliver the type of results you want. Use this workout and flexible dieting program to lose up to 10 pounds of fat and build muscle in just 30 days…without starving yourself or living in the gym. Open any fitness magazine and you’re going to see at least a handful of advertisements for human growth hormone (HGH) boosters.
And the long story short is many of these ingredients have no effect on growth hormone production and those that do aren’t powerful enough to confer any real benefits. Research shows that supplementing with this compound increases post-exercise growth hormone levels…but this transient increase will do nothing in the way of improving muscle growth. Another bestseller is deer velvet antler, which is used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for various preventative health purposes. Research supports the well-known fact among chemically enhanced bodybuilders that growth hormone alone doesn’t help you build more muscle–it must be combined with large amounts of anabolic steroids to have this effect.
If directly injecting the hormone every day doesn’t help you build more muscle and strength what could a natural supplement that can, at best, slightly increase daily production possibly do? Research shows that fluctuations of anabolic hormones within natural levels has little-to-no effect on muscle growth. Someone with a middling anabolic hormone profile can do more or less as well in the gym as someone with a superb one. HMB (beta-Hydroxy beta-methylbutyric acid–a mouthful indeed) is a metabolite of the amino acid leucine, and it has been making the rounds as a powerful new muscle builder.
The problem, though, is that the few studies used to sell these claims were conducted by Steven Nissen, the inventor of HMB and owner of the patent.
Well, lo and behold, when you look at unbiased research on HMB, which has also been conducted with resistance-trained men and not the elderly, it’s much less effective than Nissen has reported. A study conducted by Massey University found that HMB supplementation improved lower-body strength, but had negligible effects on body composition in resistance trained men.
A study conducted by the Singapore Sports Council found that HMB supplementation had no effect on strength or body composition in resistance trained men.
A study conducted by the University of Memphis found that HMB supplementation did not reduce catabolism or affect training-induced changes in body composition and strength in experienced resistance-trained males. There is one benefit of HMB that’s well established, however: it’s an extremely effective anti-catabolic agent. That is, it’s very good at preventing muscle breakdown, which means you will recover faster from your workouts and experience less muscle soreness (and the free acid form shows the most promise in this regard). It also has no effect whatsoever on insulin levels, which makes it perfect for use with fasted training. Its powerful anti-catabolic effects and non-existent insulin effects means you reap all the fat loss benefits of training fasted without any of the problems relating to muscle loss or insulin secretion.
It’s also worth noting that HMB is superior to leucine in suppressing muscle breakdown because it’s more anti-catabolic than its “parent” amino acid. This means it’s also more effective than branched-chain amino acid supplements because they rely on leucine for their anti-catabolic effects (isoleucine and valine are very weak in this regard). In terms of which specific HMB supplement I recommend, I’ve included a clinically effective dosage in every serving of my pre-workout fat burner FORGE. The bottom line is FORGE helps you lose fat–and “stubborn” fat in particular–faster, preserve muscle, and maintain training intensity and mental sharpness.
These are the main reasons why protein powders are the most popular types of supplements out there.
If you’re like me, and most people, you’ll find that dieting is just more enjoyable with a protein powder, and that’s why I recommend and use them. In terms of an actual product, mine is called WHEY+, and it’s essentially the whey protein powder I myself always wanted. WHEY+ is made from milk sourced from antibiotic- and hormone-free cows on small dairy farms in Ireland, which are known for their exceptionally high-quality dairy. Creatine is a substance found naturally in the body and in high amounts in foods like red meat. When it comes to improving body composition and workout performance, creatine is basically all pros and no cons. There are many forms of creatine available, however, such as monohydrate, hydrochloride, citrate, ethyl ester, nitrate, and others. The other forms on the market are no more effective and, in some cases, even less effective than good ol’ monohydrate. And that’s why I went with creatine monohydrate when creating a post-workout supplement for my line of supplements, LEGION. This gives you the proven strength, size, and recovery benefits of creatine monohydrate plus the muscle repair and insulin sensitivity benefits of L-carnitine L-tartrate and corosolic acid. It’s also 100% naturally sweetened and flavored and has no artificial fillers or other unnecessary junk. Beta-alanine is a nonessential amino acid, which means it isn’t a necessary part of the human diet because our bodies can create it. Your body primarily uses beta-alanine to form a compound molecule called carnosine, which is stored in your muscles and brain. It does this by combining beta-alanine with an essential amino acid, L-histidine.


When a muscle contracts repeatedly, it becomes more and more acidic. This, in turn, impairs its ability to continue contracting, until eventually it can no longer contract at all. Carnosine counteracts this by reducing muscle acidity, thereby increasing the amount of work the muscles can do before they become fatigued. While there are many ways a muscle can fatigue during a workout, by targeting just one (acidity), performance can be enhanced. Well, beta-alanine is a popular supplement because it gets converted into carnosine in the body, which then accumulates in the muscles. Beta-alanine’s major benefits lie in improving physical endurance and possibly body composition as well. One rather impressive meta-analysis conducted in 2012 involved an in-depth review of 15 studies on beta-alanine as an ergogenic aid (performance enhancer). Researchers found that beta-alanine supplementation resulted in a minor but statistically significant improvement in endurance (2.85%) when the exercise duration was between 60 and 240s (the duration you see in supersetting, Crossfit-style workouts, and the like).
And while beta-alanine tended to improve exercise lasting less than a minute or greater than three minutes in duration, the magnitude was very small and was not statistically significant. This is why many weightlifters take both beta-alanine and creatine, which notably improves performance in the sub-60-second realm and slightly improves performance in the 60-to-240-second realm.
In this way, they’re “covered” for everything they’re going to be doing in the weight room.
As for beta-alanine and muscle growth there are a few studies that note that even when performance between groups is controlled for (ie. That is, despite following the same types of diets and workout programs, people that supplement with beta-alanine seem to gain more muscle than those that don’t.
This effect doesn’t appear to be merely a byproduct of improved workout performance, either.
We don’t know exactly why just yet, but beta-alanine supplementation appears to directly (albeit slightly) augment muscle growth. When you look at the data, 4.8 grams of beta-alanine per day is slightly more effective than 2 grams but there isn’t too much of a difference when the supplement is taken every day. Like creatine, beta-alanine also seems to benefit from a “loading phase,” which allows it to accumulate carnosine in the muscles faster.
It’s also worth noting that it’s generally thought that people doing higher volume weightlifting programs may benefit from the upper end of the clinically effective range of beta-alanine.
So, given all the above, I think beta-alanine is a worthwhile supplement for boosting both muscle growth and exercise performance, and that’s why I included it in my pre-workout supplement PULSE. Citrulline Malate. Citrulline is an amino acid that improves muscle endurance, relieves muscle soreness, and improves aerobic performance. Betaine. Betaine is a compound found in plants like beets that improves muscle endurance, increases strength, and increases human growth hormone and insulin-like growth factor 1 production in response to acute exercise. Ornithine. Ornithine is an amino acid found in high amounts in dairy and meat that reduces fatigue in prolonged exercise and promotes lipid oxidation (the burning of fat for energy as opposed to carbohydrate or glycogen). Theanine. Theanine is an amino acid found primarily in tea that  reduces the effects of mental and physical stress, increases the production of nitric oxide, which improves blood flow, and improves alertness, focus, attention, memory, mental task performance, and mood. The bottom line is if you want to know what a pre-workout is supposed to feel like…if you want to experience the type of energy rush and performance boost that only clinically effective dosages of scientifically validated ingredients can deliver…then you want to try PULSE.
When you see a supplement claim it can help you build muscle faster, you should be skeptical. You see, supplements don’t build great physiques–dedication to proper training and nutrition does. That said, while workout supplements don’t play a vital role in building muscle and losing fat, and many are a complete waste of money…the right ones can help.
The truth of the matter is there are safe, natural substances that have been scientifically proven to deliver benefits such as increased strength, muscle endurance and growth, fat loss, and more.
And you now know the two most reliable ones for building muscle faster–creatine and beta-alanine. You see, depending on how you eat, train, rest, and supplement, building muscle and losing fat can be incredibly simple or seemingly impossible. I've also learned a lot about what DOES work, and I wrote Bigger Leaner Stronger and Thinner Leaner Stronger to teach you EVERYTHING you need to know to build the body you've always wanted. I'm Mike and I'm the creator of Muscle for Life and Legion Athletics, and I believe that EVERYONE can achieve the body of their dreams. If you like what I have to say, sign up for my free newsletter and every week I'll send you awesome, science-based health and fitness tips, delicious "diet-friendly" recipes, motivational musings, and more. What I am about to tell you is not going to make me a very popular person with many supplement manufacturers. The only people who I know are going to be happy about this article is the consumer, but I am getting ahead of myself.
At that point creatine was only being produced by a few companies, so creatine was basically creatine and the price was the only real consideration.
At this time there are probably four-five companies large enough to mass produce creatine for the sports nutrition market. If we don't do it, then we allow the "powers that be" (who have an interest in discrediting the supplement industry) to get one step closer to the Orwellian scenario of other countries. As far as I am concerned, this is us airing out or own dirty inter-industry laundry and policing our own, instead of waiting for the "don't confuse us with the facts" popular media or other groups to come after the supplement industry.
Most of us are always happy when we get more than we paid for, but in some instances, it's not such a good idea. Also, I know this company to be one of the worlds most reputable companies, so I had no problems with their testing results or methods.
Before we bother with the results, we need to take a look at the chemicals that were tested for-and subsequently found- in these samples.
Considering the fact that some creatine products contain fairly high amounts of these chemicals, the lack of solid safety data did not make me feel very comfortable. Dicyandiamide (DC): DC is actually a derivative of one of the starting chemicals (cyanamide) used in creatine production. At the concentrations found in some of the creatine products (see below), it's a good thing this stuff does not appear to be particularly toxic. Dihydrotriazine (DT): DT appears to be the real mystery chemical as far as potentially toxic contaminants found in some creatine products. However, DT is part of a large family of chemicals known as the "triazines." It is an organic base with many derivatives.
Bill Roberts, a medicinal Chemist and writer for Dan Duchaine's Dirty Dieting news letter commented after I sent him over this information: "There really is no way to say just how high a chronic intake of this chemical [these chemicals] is safe in humans from the information given.
But if a creatine brand has say 1% of this impurity [these impurities] then people are going to be consuming thousands of milligrams of this compound [these compounds] over time. Believe it or not, the company who did the testing told me that although those were the main chemicals they tested for, some creatine products read like a who's who of different chemical compounds, though they admitted that they are usually found in trace amounts. I knew that I wanted to do it right and not have any regrets about what I could have done differently. The primary supplements I used were: Pre JYM, Pro JYM, Post JYM, Vita JYM, Shred JYM, Alpha Lipoic Acid and D-Aspartic Acid. There are a handful of supplements that are scientifically proven to work…if you buy and use them intelligently.
The truth is the majority of the supplements you see in the magazines and on the shelves aren’t going to help you reach your goals faster.
As in, will do more or less nothing to help raise testosterone levels and absolutely nothing to help you build muscle faster. That is, some people may see an increase in testosterone and some won’t, and in many that do, the effects will be short lived. So there’s no need to waste money chasing minor increases in testosterone, growth hormone, or IGF-1.
As you now know, HMB is very good at preventing muscle breakdown, and this means you will recover faster from your workouts and experience less muscle soreness.
Research shows that yohimbine enables your body to reduce fat stores faster, and it’s particularly useful as you get leaner and are battling with stubborn fat holdouts. Creatine and proper protein intake with adequate carbs has been the only thing that ever gave me noticiable gains in size and over several years non the less. As is typical of the market place, once creatine became big business, several new manufacturers popped up and it became no longer a price war as much as a quality war.
These companies in turn sell their product in huge bulk amounts to various distributors around the world. Unlike other countries, we (the USA) don't have government constantly telling us what we can and cannot do with our supplements.
I thought long and hard as to whether or not I should write this article, but in the end, as a person of good conscience and ethics, I knew I had to. I know it must sound like I am almost apologizing for writing this article, and in a way I am.
If we are buying say vitamin C and the label says "500mg per capsule" and laboratory analysis reveals it contains 600mg, then that is a great thing.
Recently, a company tested the five largest creatine manufacturers products and tested the products of various distributors from the USA, Germany, Great Britain, and other countries. What really bothered me was the fact that there is little safety research on some of these chemicals, most notably the dihydrotriazine. The major point of this is really the amount of creatine ingested in relation to the amount of contaminant present.


For example, one creatine product contained as much as 18,000 parts per million (PPM) of Dicyandiamide. DC is formed during the production of creatine products, and large amounts found in a product are considered the result of an incomplete or inefficient process.
Some of these derivatives are toxic while others are known to be non-toxic, so it is very difficult to come to any real solid opinion regarding the potential toxicity of this chemical.
If the amounts were very small, say a few milligrams per week, it's a reasonable guess that there would probably be no problem. I think we have to be concerned about taking so much of something that really isn't well studied in humans for safety.
For me, the less I know about a chemical the less of it I want to find in any product I am ingesting. Creatinine is actually a natural byproduct of creatine metabolism in the human body and of creatine production.
As for the consumer, if it were me, I would demand the HPLC test results from whom ever I was buying my creatine from regarding the chemicals listed in this article. What often happens, however, is that the long sought after muscle that they manage to pack on comes at the price of increased body fat. BSN Lean Dessert is a suitable nutritious meal alternative, containing an impressive 21 grams of protein per serve, along with 3.5 grams of fat and 8 grams of carbohydrate, with a total calorie count of 150. At the start of my transformation, my primary goal was to be stage-ready and compete in my first natural bodybuilding show. That being said, I hired a trainer for the first time so that I would have someone with experience to support me and push me along my journey.
Not only that, people at the gym began to notice, too; people I had never talked to began to compliment me and ask me about my training and diet. I took my JYM supplements with confidence, knowing they were quality products and free of banned substances.
While I’m unsure of my exact body-fat percentage, I was amazed that I was able to transform my body into a stage-ready physique. On the other hand, some of them are going to be happy someone spilled the beans and told the truth. As far as the mass producers are concerned, there is a large German company, two companies out of China, and two in the United States. In the end, it will cost the entire supplement industry far more than any one loss could ever cost a single company if problems with a certain product are not exposed.
However, if we test a product and not only does it contain what the label claims, but several other compounds we did not know were in there and had no place being in there, then that's a completely different story. At this time, the company who did the testing wishes to remain anonymous, lest they be accused of throwing stones at the supplement industry. It's not that a compound has a small amount of some contaminant per se, but the levels of the contaminant is found in relation to how much of the product is consumed is the real question. If a person is taking in ten grams per day of creatine, that's 180 mg of this chemical a day. One interesting point as it relates to DC and toxicity is, if one looks at the safety sheet on the stuff it states that DC breaks down into hydrogen cyanide gas when exposed to a strong acid.
This substance is a byproduct of non-optimized creatine productions and consequently widely spread over creatine products. One chemist I spoke to from a major pharmaceutical supply company said to me on the phone "it's safe to say that there will be major differences in toxicity between derivatives since 'triazine' simply means possessing three C=N-H groups.
At the levels found in these creatine products, the amount of sodium added to the diet is very small and should pose no problems, even to the most sodium phobic person. Ita€™s available in a wide range of flavours and mixes to produce a thick, dessert-like shake.
Once I found what worked, I monitored my results and lowered my carbs on a regular basis in order to keep the results coming. At the end of the day, I accomplished my primary goal of participating in my first competition. Finally, some of them will be totally unaware of this information and will be shocked when they read it. Though there are various other companies, for this article we will basically concern ourselves with these five major producers which probably comprise 80-90% of the creatine production market.
On the other hand, it could also make some other person a great deal of money, depending on where they fall (this will make more sense to the reader as you read along). For example, when the amino acid L-Tryptophan was taken off the market for the death of several people, it was not because of the L-Tryptophan itself, but because of a chemical contaminant found in a batch of the L-tryptophan that was not supposed to be there.
However, this is a very large and reputable company and they stand behind their test results.
The creatine products were tested for: Dicyandiamide, Creatinine, Dihydrotriazine, and sodium content. If you are taking in 30g a day of creatine-as is often the case during the loading phase-you would be getting a whopping 540mg a day of dicyandiamide! Dihydrotriazine is a compound with unknown pharmaceutical and toxicological properties." It was virtually impossible to find any useful safety data on this chemical. However, in some products large amounts can be found, as high as 7700 ppm in one case (see chart). As for me, I will make sure my creatine comes only from companies and distributors who sell creatine made by the large German company, or other companies, who clearly have their collective act together when it comes to producing an ultra pure creatine product. It comes in either 2 or 5 pound quantities and is available in either vanilla or chocolate.
When I struggled and craved those sugary carbs, it was nice to have my friends and trainer there to pull me back into focus and keep my eye on the prize. Now I have a new goal: to use JYM supplements and Jim Stoppani’s training programs to help me gain quality mass so that I can step off the stage with a trophy in hand next time!
Basically, I fully expect this article to cause a sh*% storm that will reverberate throughout the supplement industry.
Let me state here and now, I am all for self-regulation and totally against government regulation when it comes to supplements. This was a perfect example of getting more than you paid for in the worst possible scenario. Oral studies with animals (rats and dogs) lasting up to 90 days have not shown serious toxicity or carcinogenic effects, and acute poisoning also takes very high amounts. As Bruce Kneller points out (see side bar), stomach acid, which has a PH of 2, is a very strong acid. When creatine was first introduced it was sort of pricey, but no one really cared because it worked so well. What I am going to write about in this article certainly is not as bad as the L-tryptophan fiasco, but it could be a potential health concern.
It revealed that there is a wide range of differences between creatine products from different manufacturers. Given the high doses of creatine most people take, even a minute toxic impurity could have a dangerous effect. Is even a tiny amount of hydrogen cyanide gas produced from the intake of large amounts of DC? There is some research that links the ingestion of creatinine from meats with increased colon cancer incidence, but in all honesty I would not put much stock in that or get all worked up about it . To get lean, youa€™ve got to eat clean a€“ and that includes putting supplements into your system that are going to help, not hinder, your ripped muscle ambition. As time went on and more companies began selling creatine, the inevitable price war began and prices came down. Any supplement that is found to be potentially dangerous, terribly misleading, or otherwise a total scam, must be exposed as such. The purity level of all the creatine products were also tested and they generally fell between 88 and 92%. Some of the more interesting is the use of DC in the production of fertilizers, explosives, fire proofing compounds, cleaning compounds, soldering compounds, stabilizer in detergents, modifier for starch products, and a catalyst for epoxy resins. The chemist I spoke to did not seem to think so and the safety data with animals would tend to support this, but who knows. Now before you go off yelling "but my creatine says 99% pure creatine monohydrate on the bottle," you have to remember there is a small amount of water in creatine monohydrate. Bruce might be overreacting a bit on this, but it's better to lean on the cautious side with such things. Though a natural byproduct of creatine metabolism, it does not have any ergogenic effects and therefore I don't want large amounts of it in my creatine, period.
That means choosing a product that has less than 2 grams of fat and no more than 5 grams of carbohydrate. A high quality creatine product should contain less than 100ppm of creatinine in my opinion.



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