Hype, Claims and Fact!
Almost daily I get a question or two concerning one or more of the supplements being hyped. There are over 250,000 on the market , which makes it difficult to know about all of them. Be smart, before trying any supplement ask this question:
Where is the 3rd party, randomized, double-blind, crossover, peer reviewed, published research to support the claims being made? If they won’t supply you with it then don’t waste your money on testimonials, hype & false claims. You could be endangering your health!
Here are comments on some of the more popular supplements being hyped today.
1. Amino Acid Supplements:
Over 100 companies in the US market alleged ergogenic (growth) stimulants. Weightlifters, body builders, and athletes use amino acid supplements believing they will boost the body’s natural production of the anabolic hormones testosterone, growth hormone (GH), insulin, or insulin like growth factor I (IGF-I) to increase muscle size, strength and decrease body fat. These manufacturers would like you to believe their products do what they say they are going to do, but research on healthy subjects does NOT provide convincing evidence for a muscle growth (ergogenic) effect, or increase in exercise performance.
2. Pre-Post Carbohydrate/Protein Supplementation:
Good studies indicate up to a potential 4 fold increase in protein utilization of carbohydrate and/or protein supplementation prior to, or immediately after resistance exercise workouts. The same thing applies to post exercise glucose(carbohydrate) ingestion. The real question is the degree to which any positive effect contributes to long-term muscle growth and strength improvements. Recent research has FAILED to show any effect of immediate post exercise ingestion of an amino acid-carbohydrate mixture on muscle strength or size gains.
Is found mostly in meat and dairy products. While patients with progressive muscle weakness have benefited from carnitine administration, little data suggests that healthy adults require carnitine above those in a well-balanced diet. Research shows NO ergonenic (growth) benefits, or metabolic alterations or body-fat reduction from using L-carnitine supplementation.
Is the "advertiser’s dream" as a cancer preventing, life-prolonging "perfect food." Unfortunately, NO reliable data will attest to its effectiveness as an ergogenic (muscke growth) aid. Furthermore, no effects of bee pollen supplementation have been shown for maximal oxygen uptake, endurance performance, or other physiological responses to exercise. In addition to a lack of scientific evidence to justify its use as an ergogenic aid, supplementing with bee pollen can be risky. Individuals allergic to specific pollens may experience extreme reactions when taking this supplement.
Current information indicates that boron supplements do NOT effect testosterone levels in individuals adequately nourished for this mineral. The promise of increased testosterone output tempts weightlifters and body builders to consume excess boron to promote an anabolic (growth) effect. There is NO research to support this claim.
Chromium occurs widely in soil. Chronic chromium deficiency increases blood cholesterol and decreases sensitivity to insulin, thus increasing the chance for type 2 diabetes. Chromium rich foods are brewers yeast, broccoli, wheat germ, nuts, liver, prunes, egg yolks, apples with skins, asparagus, mushrooms, wine and cheese, but often times these are not part of the regular diet. Processing also removes a significant amount of chromium from foods.
Advertised as a "fat burner" and "muscle builder," chromium represents the largest selling mineral supplement in the United States, second only to calcium in today’s health food/fitness literature. Chromium is usually taken as chromium picolinate.
Americans believe the unsubstantiated claims of advertisers, television infomercials and exercise zealots who say additional chromium promotes muscle growth, curbs appetite, fosters body fat loss, and lengthens life. These beliefs persist despite good scientific evidence that chromium supplements exert NO effect on glucose or insulin concentrations in non-diabetic individuals.
In November 1996, The Federal Trade Commission ordered three makers of chromium supplements to cease promoting unsubstantiated weight loss and health claims (reduced body fat, increased muscle mass, increased energy level) for chromium picolinate.
CoenzymeQ 10 (ubiqunone)
Is found primarily in meats, peanuts, and soybean oil and functions as an important part of the electron transport system. It does NOT improve aerobic capacity. Further research is necessary to verify any potential benefits. On a negative note, CoQ10 may cause harmful effects. Increased cell damage has occurred in subjects receiving 60 mg of CoQ10 twice daily for 20 days.
Meat, poultry, and fish provide rich sources of creatine. Because the animal kingdom contains the richest creatine-containing foods, vegetarians have a distinct disadvantage in obtaining ready sources of creatine.
Creatine supplements, sold as creatine monohydrate, come as a powder, tablet, capsule, and stabilized liquid. Currently, an athlete can supplement with creatine in international competition because governing bodies (including the IOC) do not consider creatine an illegal substance – yet!
Creatine received notoriety as an ergogenic (muscle growth) aid when used by British sprinters and hurdlers in the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games. Creatine levels at the recommended level exert ergogenic effects in short-duration, high-intensity exercise (5-10% improvement) without producing harmful side effects. However, there is a possible association between creatine supplementation and cramping in multiple muscle areas during competition or lengthy practice by football players and other athletes. Gastrointestinal tract disturbances such as nausea, indigestion, and difficulty absorbing food have also been linked to creatine ingestion.
Oral supplements of creatine monohydrate (20-25 g per day) significantly increase muscle creatine and performance in high intensity, particularly repeated intense muscular effort. This effect does not vary between vegetarians or meat eaters.
For division I football players, creatine supplementation with resistance training increased body mass, lean body mass, cellular hydration, and muscular strength and performance. However, creatine supplementation does NOT improve exercise performance that requires a high level of aerobic energy. It also has little effect on isometric (static) muscular strength or dynamic force measured during a brief single movement.
Are There Risks?
Limited research exists about potential dangers of creatine supplementation in healthy individuals, particularly the effect on cardiac muscle and kidney function. As a nutritional supplement, creatine requires less stringent regulations governing its manufacturing standards, purity, and reporting of adverse side effects than if classified as a drug.
Not all research reports positive results from standard creatine supplementation. For example, no effects on exercise performance, fatigue resistance, and recovery appeared for untrained subjects performing a single 15-second bout of sprint cycling, sport specific physical activities such as swimming, cycling, and running.
The Next creatine on the supplement scene – RIBOSE:
Ribose has emerged as a competitor to creatine as a supplement to increase power and replenish high energy compounds after intense exercise. The diet provides small amounts through ripe fruits and vegetables. Because of its role in energy metabolism, ribose ingestion has been promoted as a means to quickly restore the body’s limited amount of ATP. However, only limited research exists to assess this potential for ribose. Some research has demonstrated no ergogenic effects of ribose supplementation in healthy untrained or trained groups.
When dealing with supplements be aware that there are NO restrictions on what manufacturers can claim. There might be ingredients in the supplement that are not on the label or ingredients listed on the label that are not in the supplement at all. You take the risk of ingesting something that may have harmful side effects or can lead to losing eligibility because of an illegal drug used in the supplement without your knowledge. Why Take The Risk?
The very best advice is to eat lots of fresh-raw fruits and vegetables 9-13 servings per day), athletes need to eat 13 servings of fresh-raw fruits & vegetables every day, along with a good balanced diet. I personally recommend the Nutripoints Program for Optimal Nutrition. Then you can bridge the gap between your current nutrition level and optimal nutrition by adding Juice Plus+ to your nutrition program; the "Most scientifically Documented Whole Food Based Nutritional Concentrate" in History.
Author/speaker and an expert in ”Sports Performance Enhancement”. Jack Medina is available for speaking engagements, consultation and personal training of athletes in various sports, professional and amateur. Jack has written a new book, “The Winning Edge: Fueling & Training The Body For Peak Performance” with Dr. Roy Vartabedian, an internationally known New York Times Best Selling Author of the “Nutripoints” program for optimal nutrition. Both books are available online at www.jackmedina.com. Jack also has a monthly ezine (newsletter) available free which can be subscribed to on his website. All subscriber’s addresses will be confidential and not sold or given to any other organization or group.
This article contains copyrighted material. Copies of this article may be reprinted without permission of the author only when this bi-line is included with each copy. Jack can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org