Feeling tired and sluggish? Struggling with depression? Perhaps you’re having muscle and back pain? These symptoms may indicate that you are lacking vitamin D. In fact, up to 15 percent of people worldwide are vitamin D deficient. The risk is higher among seniors and individuals living in cold climates or spending a lot of time indoors. Vitamin D is an essential vitamin known as the sunlight vitamin, since it is synthesized in the skin when exposed to the sun’s radation. It provides benefits for bone structure, mood state and much more.
Vitamin D plays a key role in overall health and well-being. It regulates calcium levels, supports cardiovascular function, and keeps depression at bay. Even the slightest deficiency can put you at risk for osteoporosis, immune disorders, recurring infections and more.
What Is Vitamin D?
This fat-soluble vitamin is produced by your body after exposure to sunlight. It also occurs naturally in a small number of foods and can be purchased in supplement form. Commonly referred to as the sunshine vitamin, it supports calcium absorption and regulates several key processes in the human body.
Vitamin D2 is derived from plant sources, while vitamin D3 can be found in eggs, dairy, and other animal foods. The first one is synthesized through exposure to UV radiation from the sun; the latter can be obtained from diet and supplements.
However, food can only provide five to 10 percent of the recommended daily amount of vitamin D. That’s why health experts recommend spending at least 10 minutes outdoors on a daily basis. This helps increase vitamin D levels in the body and may prevent deficiencies.
The Role of Vitamin D
This nutrient plays a key role in bone health and immune function. Without it, your body cannot absorb calcium and must take it from your bones. Rickets, osteoporosis, fractures, and joint pain are common complaints among those who are deficient in vitamin D.
The human body needs this nutrient to maintain optimum phosphorus levels and normal immune system function. An adequate vitamin D intake may help lower your risk of heart disease,multiple sclerosis, depression, and obesity.
In a clinical trial, healthy overweight subjects who took vitamin D supplements experienced significant improvements in heart disease risk markers. Another study has found that those who added vitamin D and calcium to their diet lost more weight compared to the placebo group. According to researchers, this combo may suppress appetite and offset the risks associated with obesity.
If you’re struggling with depression, you may benefit from a higher vitamin D intake. In a study, depressed people who received this nutrient in supplement form reported major improvements in their symptoms. Furthermore, vitamin D may reduce your risk of developing neurodegenerative disorders.
How much vitamin D you need depends on several factors, including your age, overall health, and lifestyle. For example, people who have dark skin or spend a lot of time indoors require larger doses of this nutrient.
The recommended daily allowance (RDA) of vitamin D for those who are deficient is 50,000 IU per week. If you’re at risk for osteoporosis, consider taking anywhere from 400 to 1,000 IU per day. Calcium supplements will be necessary too.
Healthy individuals are advised to get at least 600 IUs of vitamin D per day. However, some experts say that this is not enough, and recommend a minimum daily intake of 9,600 IUs. Research shows that an intake of up to 40,000 IU is unlikely to have any side effects.
Who’s at Risk for Vitamin D Deficiency?
According to science, vitamin D deficiency is the most under-diagnosed condition worldwide. A staggering 40 percent of Americans are not getting enough of this nutrient in their diet. The primary risk factors include:
Being a vegan or vegetarian
Having dark skin
Living in cold climates or being homebound
Wearing clothes that cover up most of your skin
Having kidney or liver problems
Suffering from celiac disease, IBS, and other medical conditions that affect fat absorption
Using sunscreen frequently
The aging process contributes to vitamin D deficiency as well. As you get older, your liver becomes less efficient at processing this nutrient. Additionally, you’re spending more time indoors, so your exposure to sunlight is limited. That’s why health professionals recommend seniors to eat plenty of foods containing vitamin D and take supplements if necessary.
Some of the best dietary sources of vitamin D include fatty fish, egg yolks, liver, red meat, fortified orange juice, and fortified cereals. Fish, krill, and cod oil can help too. A single tablespoon of cod liver oil, for instance, provides over 1,360 IU of vitamin D. One serving of salmon delivers about 566 IU, while beef liver contains 42 IU.
To maximize your vitamin D levels, get outdoors for 10 minutes once or twice a day, especially early in the morning and late in the afternoon. The sun is strongest between 10 am and 4 pm, so it’s better to avoid outdoor activities during these peak times. Prolonged or regular exposure to UV radiation may lead to skin cancer.
Are Vitamin D Supplements Really Necessary?
Vitamin D deficiency can weaken your bones, cause severe fatigue, and affect cardiovascular function. It also interferes with your body’s ability to fight infections, contributes to back pain, and may trigger depression. Slow wound healing, inflammation, hair loss, muscle pain, and decreased bone density are all common side effects.
Considering these risks, it makes sense to include more vitamin D in your diet. If you’re spending enough time outdoors, you may not need supplements. People who live in big cities, however, often develop deficiencies because of pollution.
Since this nutrient is found in a small number of foods, you might not get enough from your diet alone. Additionally, too much sun exposure may put you at risk for melanoma. Vitamin D supplementation is highly recommended – just make sure you don’t go overboard.
When consumed in excess, vitamin D may cause toxicity. Common side effects include elevated blood calcium levels, nausea and vomiting, stomach pain, digestive distress, vitamin K deficiency, and even kidney failure.
Discuss your options with a healthcare professional. He or she can recommend an optimum dose and help you choose a vitamin D supplement that meets your needs.
How to take Vitamin D?
Going out into the sunlight is most likely the best way to get vitamin D but this can be tricky if you are working in an office all day or if you live in northern countries with limited sun exposure. If for some reason you cannot escape the office or get by a window where the sun shines then you should really think about supplementing with vitamin D.
The recommended daily allowance for Vitamin D is currently set at 400-800IU/day, but this is too low for adults. The safe upper limit in the United States is 2,000IU/day, while in Canada it is 4,000IU/day.
Research suggests that the true safe upper limit is 10,000IU/day. For moderate supplementation, a 1,000-2,000IU dose of vitamin D3 is sufficient to meet the needs of most of the population. This is the lowest effective dose range. Higher doses, based on body weight, are in the range of 20-80IU/kg daily. Vitamin D3 supplementation (cholecalciferol) is recommended over D2 supplementation (ergocalciferol), since D3 is used more effectively in the body. Vitamin D should be taken daily, with meals or a source of fat, like Fish Oil.
As a Strength and Conditioning coach, I often get asked by athletes or clients what supplement they should get or what brand I would recommend. On the other hand, some are concerned about not being able to digest whey protein and what would be a better alternative for them.
My first answer is a question as well, and it’s, do you actually need a protein supplement? But, let’s imagine that your macros are on point and that the majority of your protein comes from whole food, but for whatever reason, you need that extra protein from a supplement powder. How do you choose the right protein for you? What are the things to look out for in a protein supplement? In this article, I’m going to go over the different kinds of protein supplements and how they fit into a diet and training routine. Once you understand the ins and outs of protein itself, we can discuss how to choose an appropriate supplement.
What Is Protein?
Proteins are nitrogen-containing substances that are formed by amino acids. They serve as the primary structural component of muscle and other tissues in the body that are used to produce hormones, enzymes, and hemoglobin. Proteins can also be used as energy though they are not the primary choice as an energy source. For proteins to be used by the body, they need to be metabolized into their simplest form, amino acids. There have been 20 amino acids identified that are necessary for human growth and metabolism. Twelve of these amino acids are termed nonessential, meaning that they can be synthesized by our body and do not need to be consumed in the diet. The remaining amino acids cannot be synthesized in the body and are described as essential meaning that they need to be consumed in our diets. The absence of any of these amino acids will compromise the ability of the tissue to grow, be repaired or be maintained.
What Protein Is Right for You?
First, let me say that if you’re going to invest money in a supplement, make sure that it is tailored to your needs and not because your favorite athlete or “Instagram celebrity” is promoting it. Ask yourself these questions: Are you looking to lose weight? Are you looking to gain weight? Are you vegan? Do you have digestive issues? These types of questions will narrow down the choice of supplement brands out there for you.
Below is a list of the types of protein powders commonly used for dieting and training:
Whey Concentrate Protein
Whey protein is derived from milk and is made by the same process as cheese-making, stemming from the liquid that separates from the curds. This liquid is high in protein (70-80%), but also contains lactose, a milk sugar that many people have difficulty digesting. Many people think whey protein concentrate is inferior to whey isolate, but a well-made whey concentrate made from grass-fed cows, may, in fact, be a better choice than a whey protein isolate depending on what your goals are.
Though whey protein concentrates will contain less total protein than whey isolate, a high-quality concentrate contains more of the other helpful compounds found in milk. Good concentrates contain far higher levels of growth factors such as phospholipids and lipids, such as conjugated linoleic acid CLA. They also often contain higher levels of immunoglobulins and lactoferrin.
Whey protein is quickly digested into the bloodstream with a high content of BCAA especially high in leucine which is the king of the amino acid when it comes to muscle growth and recovery. When amino acids are digested and absorbed into the bloodstream, they are available for muscle protein synthesis or the process of building new muscle. Studies have shown that whey protein helps to build and maintain muscle mass, assist with recovery from heavy exercise and increase muscle strength in response to strength training.
Other studies in normal-weight, overweight and obese individuals have shown that whey protein may improve body composition by decreasing fat mass and increasing lean mass. One study gave lean men four different types of liquid protein meals on different days. The whey protein meals led to the most substantial decrease in appetite and the most significant reduction in calorie intake at the next meal.
Whey Isolate Protein
While whey protein concentrate has a protein content of around 80%, the protein content in whey isolate is around 90%. This is because whey protein isolate undergoes a process called Cross-Flow Micro-filtration. This filtering process separates the protein from fat, cholesterol, and lactose meaning a purer protein as the end product.
Whey protein isolate has less fat, cholesterol, lactose, carbohydrates, and calories than whey concentrate. It is, therefore, a common choice for those looking to maintain low levels of body fat but who still require the protein to help their muscles repair and recover. Although whey protein concentrate is considered low in lactose, whey protein isolate is considered even lower because of the additional manufacturing processes. It is therefore often recommended for athletes who suffer from lactose intolerance.
Whey Hydrolyzed protein can be made from either whey concentrate or whey isolate; the difference is the size of the peptide structures, often referred to as “pre-digested” because it has already undergone partial breakdown. To reduce their size, enzymes in your digestive system have to break the bonds between select amino acid sequences to yield smaller peptides that your body can actually use. This reduces the digestion time and easier absorption compared to the other two forms of protein.
This process is costly to the manufacturer, so more than likely whey hydrolysate is the most expensive form of protein on the market.
Casein is the other protein found in milk. However, casein is digested and absorbed much slower because it forms a gel when it interacts with stomach acid. This results in the stomach slowly emptying and delaying the absorption of amino acids into the bloodstream. The delayed absorption leads to a gradual, steadier exposure of the muscles to amino acids and reducing the rate of muscle protein breakdown.
Based on the results of most studies, casein appears to be more effective than soy and wheat protein but, not as effective as whey protein at increasing muscle protein synthesis and strength.
However, one study suggests that when calories are restricted, casein may have the edge over whey in improving body composition during resistance training. The study followed overweight men who consumed a diet providing 80% of their calorie needs. Some took casein protein, and others were given whey protein. Those who took casein protein had twice the reduction in fat mass, a gain of lean mass and increase in chest strength as the whey protein group.
In athletes supplementing their diets with additional protein, casein has been shown to provide the greatest benefit for increases in protein synthesis for a prolonged duration. However, whey protein has a greater initial benefit for protein synthesis. These differences are related to their rates of absorption. It is likely a combination of the two could be beneficial and produce the greatest gains.
Eggs are a very popular source of high-quality protein. I mean we all saw Rocky drinking raw eggs (please don’t do it) while listening to eye of the tiger song. Of all the whole foods, eggs have the highest protein digestibility-corrected amino acid score (PDCAAS). This score is a measure of a protein’s quality and how easily it is to digest.
Eggs are also one of the best foods for decreasing appetite and helping you stay full for hours. However, egg protein powders are typically made from egg whites rather than whole eggs. Although the protein quality remains excellent, feelings of satiety may be reduced, and all the other good nutrients are gone when the yolks are removed.
Like all animal products, eggs are a complete protein source. That means they provide adequate amounts of all the 9 essential amino acids your body can’t make for itself.
What’s more, egg protein is second only to whey protein as the highest source of leucine, the BCAA that plays the most significant role in muscle health.
Although egg white protein hasn’t been studied as much as whey or casein. In one study, female athletes taking egg white protein experienced similar gains in lean mass and muscle strength as the carb-supplemented group. Egg white protein could be a good choice for people with allergies to milk protein or on a budget as egg protein is considerably cheaper than it’s counterparts.
Let’s make one thing clear; I am not here to start a war or to state that one protein is better than the other. Whether you are vegetarian or vegan and doing it from a religious, spiritual, or political standpoint that is your choice and not my place to tell you otherwise. My goal is to bring clear science information and educate whoever is reading this. Now that I cleared the elephant out of the room let’s begin.
Before we go into details about different plant protein, let’s begin by stating what they have in common.
Plant proteins are commonly known to be an incomplete source of amino acid, they do not have all of the essential amino acids that the body needs, and if they do (we will go over which one has full amino acid profile) they have a very low amount of leucine and lysine content, which as you already know will affect the anabolic properties and protein synthesis. Furthermore, when plant protein is high in non-essential amino acids, down-regulation of insulin and up-regulation of glucagon is a logical consequence. Which means in the simplest way possible that your body is more efficient at breaking down glycogen and using glucose as an energy source, however by doing that you reduce the use of insulin and more importantly a hormone call (IGF-1) Insulin growth factor, another crucial hormone in the anabolic equation and putting on lean body mass.
Another claim that I hear a lot is the omega-3 profile that plant protein have. Of the three main types of omega-3 fatty acids, plant foods only contain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).
ALA is not as active in the body and must be converted to two other forms of omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) to bestow the same health benefits. Unfortunately, your body’s ability to convert ALA is limited. Only about 5% of ALA is converted to EPA, while less than 0.5% is converted to DHA. Thus, you see the difficulty of having a high range of omega 3 fatty acid.
Now with that said, plant protein also offers a lot of benefits such as lower cholesterol, lower total calories, cardiovascular health and many other which you will learn about later. The fact that their leucine content is lower does not mean you don’t get protein synthesis, according to research the ideal amount of leucine to take is a matter of debate. When single doses have been studied, intake of as little as 2.5 grams of leucine stimulated protein synthesis. In long-term studies, leucine intakes equivalent to 8 or more grams per day are recommended in divided doses so that at least 2.5 grams of leucine are consumed at each meal.
All it means is that you would need to have more in your diet or in a supplement form.
let’s review all the different forms of plant protein.
Hemp protein powder is a plant-based supplement that is gaining popularity. Especially in more recent years. Although hemp is related to marijuana, it only has trace amounts of the psychoactive component tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), so don’t expect to have a fun trip on it.
Hemp is rich in beneficial ALA omega-3 fatty acids and several essential amino acids. However, it is not considered a complete protein because it has very low levels of the amino acids lysine and leucine. Although there is very little research on hemp protein at this present time, it appears to be a well-digested plant protein source.
Pea protein powder is relatively new and especially popular among vegetarians, vegans and people with allergies or sensitivities to dairy or egg proteins. It’s made from the yellow split pea, a high-fiber legume particularly rich in BCAA and also contains all the essential amino acids although very low in leucine, lysine and methionine levels, it is still considered a complete protein.
Pea protein powder is also among the most hypoallergenic of all protein powders, as it contains no gluten or dairy. It’s also easy on the stomach to digest and won’t cause bloating, a common side effect of many other protein powders.
In a controlled study made by the ISSN (International Society of Sports Nutrition) 161 men who performed resistance training for 12 weeks, the group who consumed 50 grams of pea protein daily experienced similar increases in muscle thickness over the group which took 50 grams of whey protein per day. In addition, a study found that humans and rats with high blood pressure experienced a 20% decrease in blood pressure when they took pea protein supplements. Pea protein powder shows great promises and a favorite for people looking to substitute animal-based protein, more research is needed to confirm the results of these studies.
Protein powders made from brown rice have been around for some time, but they have generally been considered inferior to whey protein for muscle building. Rice protein does not contain all of the essential amino acids, which makes it an incomplete protein, which is why you will often see it coupled with quinoa or chia proteins to compensate for what the brown rice lacks. There isn’t a lot of research on rice protein powder, but one study made by the Nutrition Journal in 2013, compared the effects of rice and whey protein powders in fit college athletes males.
The 8-week study found that taking 48 grams of rice protein or whey protein daily resulted in similar changes in body composition, muscle strength, and recovery. However, more research is required to determine whether brown rice protein would provide the same benefits as whey over the long term or in other populations.
A personal note on this study, from what I have read and my own experience in researching on college athletes, it is impossible to control or establish a good nutrition journal for the subjects. This makes the findings a little bias in my opinion.
Rice protein benefits are similar to pea protein; it is an excellent hypoallergenic protein, packed with plant-based nutrients, and will aid in muscle recovery, fat burning, stabilizing blood sugar and more.Soy Protein
Soy protein is derived from the soybean and is considered a complete protein as it contains all nine of the essential amino acids for muscle growth and development. Although Soy is a good alternative for vegetarians or vegans, the nutritional drawbacks to bodybuilding can’t be avoided such as having sulfur-containing amino acid methionine. Although for a plant protein leucine content is quite high and for that reason it has been a very popular alternative for athletes requiring an alternative from animal protein.
Another big down point for soy protein and the reason why I really don’t recommend it even for my vegan athletes, due to its high concentration of phytoestrogens and the fact that 90% of all soy in the U.S is genetically engineered. Excess estrogen and GMO food is detrimental to your health. Genetically modified foods are linked to many health problems because they kill off good bacteria in your gut and also damage the function of your digestive system. Also during growth and processing soybean oil is exposed to certain pesticides that may have negative effects on human health. These pesticides also seem to survive processing.
In my opinion, I would stay away from soy protein, although it has a reputation of being the king protein for vegetarians and it’s protein content, especially leucine is high for a plant protein but I truly believe it is an inferior product to the other plant-based protein for the reason stated above.
What to look for in a protein supplement label?
First and most importantly you want to look at the serving size, some manufacturers are tricky and sometimes use 2 scoops compared to the usual 1 scoop serving size. Why is this important? Simply because you are probably paying more for less protein.
-Protein content, how much protein are you actually getting in 1 serving?
-The rest of the macronutrients, obviously this is important to how much carbohydrates and fat does the supplement have?
-Finally, probably one of the most important things to look at, INGREDIENTS.
That’s where it becomes very tricky. The first ingredients should always be a protein source because whatever is listed first is always the most abundant substance in the mix. So you should always look for “Whey protein” or “Plant protein.”
Next thing you should look at in the ingredient list is all the additives and artificial sweeteners which is typically what makes the taste of the protein. Use caution with how many and which artificial ingredients are used, however, these are perfectly legal and safe to use at low dosage like soy lecithin, but you have to ask yourself do you really want all that in your body?
Lastly still in the ingredient list, if you see any amino acid listed such as creatine, arginine, anything with an -ine at the end. Stay away from that brand.
Protein spiking is nothing new, manufacturers have used it since the 90’s. You see the way we find out how many grams of proteins there are in 1 serving size is established by measuring the nitrogen level in the protein blend itself.
“Protein spiking is the practice of adding some non-protein substance to a protein powder to increase the overall nitrogen content of the powder. Proteins are the only nutrients that provide nitrogen (Gene Bruno Natural Product Insider, Vol 4, No 10, April 2014)
A way for manufacturers to boost nitrogen levels is to add amino acids such as glycine, taurine, arginine (and all the derivatives) and the supplement creatine. These can be bought from China, and usually, are made from bird feathers or human hair. A company does this to increase their profit margin by adding cheaper ingredients while fooling the lab tests.
Who can we trust?!
Now that you know the science behind “protein spiking” who can we trust to give us good quality protein supplement? Well, let me begin by saying that thank goodness the FDA is tracking down on those cheap, lying manufactures and is now becoming a lot stricter. Big companies have to have tests done to have a “Dietary supplement” or “Supplement Facts” label. Conversely, here is a list of what to look for before investing in a brand:
– Google search the brand and find out if they are in a protein spiking lawsuit.
– This is not a must, but do they have their own manufacturing facility or are they a private label company? You would be surprised that a lot of popular brands are made in the exact same facility. The only difference is the sticker of the brand and a few tweaks on the formulae.
Why is that a potential problem? Well, sometimes the private label owner does not know what goes on in the manufacturing facility. Potentially the manufacturer could be lying to the brand owner to make a bigger profit margin.
– Do they use a third party company to test their product? A third party test is great because these guys cannot be bought. Companies such as Labdoor.com offers testing of any supplement on the market and provide a complete report of supplements. This is an excellent resource if you want to know more about the supplements you are using.
Each test reports includes Label accuracy, Product purity, Nutritional value, Ingredient safety, and Projected efficacy and it’s entirely FREE for us to view the reports.
-Buy protein powders whose protein is INSIDE the supplement facts panel, not outside. This tells you exactly how much protein powder is used in the supplement.
– Finally, and this comes from me personally, buy from a small family owned business.
For these guys to survive in a multi-billion dollars industry, they have to have a top of the line product. It’s that simple, if they only rely on marketing alone, they will get crushed by the giant corporations. But being in a family business, small and depending on product quality to grow makes all the difference. We need to help the little guys out there make a difference.
Protein I recommend
I just want to state that I am not sponsored by either of these brands and only contacted them once to let them know if it was ok for me to talk about them. It is essential for me to remain neutral as a scientist to bring you, the readers, the best product available.
Both of these brands are American family-owned business with the only goal of providing top quality products.
Muscle Feast Founder and president Sean Gillespie work with his wife and son on this fantastic supplement brand, and it all started because he was concerned about what his son was ingesting after workouts.
Muscle Feast Whey protein is made with certified 100% grass-fed, hormone-free cow’s milk, no artificial sweeteners or additives, instead, they use Stevia a natural sweetener and Cocoa (if the flavor is chocolate). That’s it! That is literally what you should look for in a protein supplement ingredients facts.
Muscle Feast is currently rated number 1 on labdoor.com lab testing as best protein supplement on the market.
It tastes amazing, it’s so easy to mix, and I highly recommend you guys to try this brand.
For the vegans and vegetarians don’t worry I got you too! Here it is
Conscious Muscle supplements, Owned again by an American Family trying to make a difference by offering top quality products.
CEO and Owner Marco Galindo, a pro powerlifter with some incredible lifting records is also a vegan and wants to prove to anyone that you can be vegan and strong af!
Conscious Muscle supplement offers vegan protein made from an all natural plant blend of pea protein, brown rice protein, quinoa powder, spirulina, amaranth powder, and artichoke powder. No Soy! It is a complete protein with all the essential aminos the body needs and the other ingredients are natural flavor (depending on the flavor of the protein) and Stevia sweetener. That is it, and again that is all you need, to have a great quality product.
Also important to note that 10% of all sales go to an animal sanctuary to help animals. What’s not to love about these guys?! Make sure to try their supplements.
Joy, J., Lowery, R., Wilson, J., Purpura, M., De Souza, E., & Wilson, S. et al. (2013). The effects of 8 weeks of whey or rice protein supplementation on body composition and exercise performance. Nutrition Journal, 12(1). doi: 10.1186/1475-2891-12-86
SC, P. (2018). Extremely limited synthesis of long chain polyunsaturates in adults: implications for their dietary essentiality and use as supplements. – PubMed – NCBI. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17622276
GC, B. (2018). Metabolism of alpha-linolenic acid in humans. – PubMed – NCBI. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16828546
Babault, N., Païzis, C., Deley, G., Guérin-Deremaux, L., Saniez, M., Lefranc-Millot, C., & Allaert, F. (2015). Pea proteins oral supplementation promotes muscle thickness gains during resistance training: a double-blind, randomized, Placebo-controlled clinical trial vs. Whey protein. Journal Of The International Society Of Sports Nutrition, 12(1), 3. doi: 10.1186/s12970-014-0064-5
Kraemer WJ, Ratamess NA, Volek JS, Hakkinen K, Rubin MR, French DN, Gomez AL, McGuigan MR, Scheett TP, Newton RU, et al: The effects of amino acid supplementation on hormonal responses to resistance training overreaching. Metabolism. 2006, 55: 282-291. 10.1016/j.metabol.2005.08.023.
Garlick PJ: The role of leucine in the regulation of protein metabolism. J Nutr. 2005, 135: 1553S-1556S.
Norton L, Wilson GJ: Optimal protein intake to maximize muscle protein synthesis. AgroFood industry hi-tech. 2009, 20: 54-57.
Tang JE, Moore DR, Kujbida GW, Tarnopolsky MA, Phillips SM: Ingestion of whey hydrolysate, casein, or soy protein isolate: effects on mixed muscle protein synthesis at rest and following resistance exercise in young men. J Appl Physiol. 2009, 107: 987-992. 10.1152/japplphysiol.00076.2009.
TC Luoma, T. (2018). Protein Trickery: Nitrogen Spiking | T Nation. Retrieved from https://www.t-nation.com/supplements/protein-trickery-nitrogen-spiking
Magnesium deficiency is likely the #1 mineral deficiency in our world today. Estimates suggest nearly half of adult men and women in the United States aren’t getting enough magnesium.
What is Magnesium?
Magnesium is an element and mineral found throughout nature and one of the body’s electrolytes. In the body, it is the fourth most abundant mineral and is crucial to many aspects of health. It is often under-rated over its big brother calcium in terms of supplementation. The 12th element in the periodic table is utilized in more than 600 biological reactions in a variety of ways such as:
Production of ATP, the energy currency of the body
DNA and RNA replication and repair during cellular division
Combining amino acids to synthesize complex proteins and enzymes
Neurotransmitter regulation in the brain
Regulating big brother calcium’s transport in the body, necessary for muscle contraction and relaxation.
And many more.
The daily recommended intake of magnesium for women is about 320mg/day (360mg/day during pregnancy), and 420mg/day for men. Children below 14 years of age require up to 240mg/day.A major percentage of this can be obtained from a well-balanced diet.
How do I know if I am deficit?
To know for sure, you would need a blood work done but there are symptoms often related to magnesium deficiency such as:
Insomnia or difficulties sleeping
Low energy levels, weakness or laziness
Anxiety and stress
If you tick some of the above or all of the above maybe you should try supplementing with magnesium.
Benefits of Magnesium
Magnesium intake and supplementation is shown to improve many of the common conditions and diseases ailing today’s generation. Let’s take a look at the benefits of magnesium intake and supplementation in 5 of them:
Exercise and Sports
Several studies done on athletes on magnesium supplementation have shown its efficacy in improving athletic performance. Runners reported faster sprinting and cycling times. Volleyball players noted improved joint movements. Other subjects also showed reduced cortisol levels.
Magnesium works by increasing muscle uptake of glucose and disposal of lactic acid, thereby increasing muscle recovery and efficiency that translates into improved performance in sports.
Type II Diabetes
Magnesium has been studied for its correlation with diabetes. One study states that not only have 48% of diabetic patients been shown to have a magnesium deficiency, but inadequate magnesium intake can also further predispose non-diabetic people to a pre-diabetic state (aka Syndrome X).
Another study demonstrated highly improved levels of HbA1c (Glycated Hemoglobin) in diabetic patients who were started on regular magnesium supplementation.
Furthermore, magnesium supplementation has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity in diabetics as magnesium is crucial to how target tissues respond to insulin.
Magnesium has been shown to decrease both systolic and diastolic blood pressure in a case-controlled interventional study. This effect makes magnesium supplementation a noteworthy addition to drug regimens for Hypertension. This effect, however, is not seen in people with normal blood pressure suggesting it uses limited to hypertension only.
Depression and PMS
Magnesium deficiency has been linked to a significantly higher risk of depression. One study estimates that risk to be about 22% higher in adults with low dietary intake of magnesium. While the mechanism is not yet fully known and more detailed research and study are required in this area, a randomized controlled trial in older adult patients if depression has shown that a regimen of 450mg supplementation improved mood as effectively as popular anti-depressants such as SSRIs.
Similarly, Post-menstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms have shown improvement with better magnesium intake. Women reported better mood with decreased frequency of water retention and abdominal cramps.
Those debilitating migraine headaches accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and hypersensitivity to light and sound may be signaling that you’re deficient in magnesium. Magnesium rich foods and, in one study, one gram of supplemented magnesium improved migraine symptoms on par with painkiller medication such as Dexamethasone.
Getting your magnesium levels up can almost instantly reduce your body’s stress load and improve the quality of your sleep. Insomnia is a common symptom of magnesium deficiency. People with low magnesium often experience restless sleep, frequently waking during the night. Maintaining healthy magnesium levels often leads to more profound sleep. Magnesium plays a role in supporting deep, restorative sleep by maintaining healthy levels of GABA, a neurotransmitter that promotes relaxation and sleep. Research indicates supplemental magnesium can improve sleep quality. (Nielsen, 2015)
How to take Magnesium supplements?
Without stating the obvious but nutrition is a big part of where you will find magnesium. A well-balanced diet should provide you with the amount that you need to live healthily. Magnesium can be found in some types of food such as the example below:
top 10 magnesium-rich foods based on magnesium content (values of mg in food from the USDA):
Spinach, cooked — 1 cup: 157 milligrams
Swiss chard, cooked — 1 cup: 150 milligrams
Dark Chocolate — 1 square: 95 milligrams
Pumpkin seeds, dried — 1/8 cup: 92 milligrams
Almonds — 1 ounce: 75 milligrams
Black beans — 1/2 cup: 60 milligrams
Avocado — 1 medium: 58 milligrams
Figs, dried — 1/2 cup: 50 milligrams
Yogurt or kefir — 1 cup: 46.5 milligrams
Banana — 1 medium: 32 milligrams
Most likely the easiest way to take magnesium is through supplements. The price varies from $10 – $20 depending on what brand you choose and the average dosage are between 100mg to 200mg which is a pretty decent amount so if you are going to supplement with magnesium the key is always to start small and increase the dosage if you can tolerate it.
Magnesium Salt Bath and oil
A lot of research are claiming the effectiveness and superiority of transdermal magnesium over an oral application. (Absorbing magnesium through the skin instead of eating it). It is claimed that the transdermal absorption of magnesium in comparison to the oral application is more effective due to better absorption and fewer side effects as it bypasses the gastrointestinal tract and goes straight to the lymphatic system. Although research is not conclusive on how much salt is needed for the requisite of healthy levels of magnesium.
One of the latest fitness crazes, IV infusion is exactly what it sounds like, you are hooked to an IV with a cocktail of your choice, in our case and in the purpose of this article let’s choose magnesium, and you basically sit and relax for 30 mins while the IV infusion works its way through your bloodstream. IV Therapy bypasses the gut, delivering essential nutrients and fluids directly into the bloodstream for quick and easy 100% absorption.
Side effects of Magnesium
Magnesium has shown a few side effects when it is taken in excess either via diet or supplementation.
Oral magnesium supplementation can sometimes cause diarrhea and lead to dehydration. Interestingly, magnesium excess can hinder absorption of dietary calcium as both elements compete at the same receptor on intestinal cells for absorption into the bloodstream.
Intravenous administration of magnesium is done mostly in severe deficiencies, but an excess of it can lead to feelings of nausea and vomiting in some people. And it can cause disruptions in cardiac conduction and beating, leading to decreased heart rates and rarely, arrhythmias as well.
Consult your physician before supplementing with magnesium.
Note: People with kidney problems should NOTtake magnesium supplementations until expressly indicated by their doctors.
The number one stimulant in the world isn’t a steroid or cocaine—it’s caffeine. Looking collectively at the western world, research suggests that an incredible four out of five people consume caffeine in some form every day. Many turn to it to boost their daily production, so it is not surprising that it is believed caffeine can enhance sports performance. In fact, caffeine has even been banned in the Olympics and the NCAA in the past because of the edge it is believed to give sports players. Therefore, we should dive intothe science behind how caffeine works to enhance sports performance, the advantages that it gives competitors,and what athletes should know before they decide if caffeine is a good way to boost their performance.
Scientists do agree on one thing—caffeine is an ergogenic aid or a substance that can provide heightened speed and stamina after consumption. Most athletes are using this substance to their advantage, it is estimated that as many as 75% of elite athletes around the world turn to caffeine to give them a competitive edge. There are even reports of athletes truly committed to giving their performance that extra energy to stay at the top of the pack—Chris Hoy, a six-time gold medalist, and Scottish cyclist, is said to have brought along his own coffee grinder and machine to every sporting event he competed in—even the 2012 London Games (Kuzma, 2014).
How to Take it
Caffeine is mainly taken as a drink served hot or cold in today’smainstream coffee shops such as Starbucks and other brands. Caffeine can be supplemented through popular beverages, like Coffee, Tea and Energy Drinks, but it can also be taken in the form of a pill. Many of caffeine’s effects includesfat burning, strength benefits, and euphoria, are subject to tolerance, and may not occur in people used to consumingcaffeine, no matter how large the dose is. The average amount ofcaffeine in a cup of coffee is around 100mg which is considered to be mild. Caffeine dosages should be tailored to individuals. If you are new to caffeine supplements, start with a 100mg dose. Typically, 200mg of caffeine is used for fat-burning supplementation, while acute strength increases occur at higher doses, 500mg and above. Overall researchers tend to use a dosage range of 4-6mg/kg bodyweight
Restrictions on Caffeine in Sports
Though attitudes have changed on caffeine and its use by athletes, not everyone has always approved of its use. One of the first times caffeine was brought into the spotlight in sports was in 1984, when caffeine was banned from the Los Angeles Summer Olympic Games. The ban would last for two decades. It did not bar athletes from consuming caffeine completely, but they could be disqualified from competitions if their urine had more than 12 micrograms of caffeine per milliliter. The problem was that the testing for caffeine was not precise, especially considering people may have anywhere from 1-3% of the caffeine that they consume pass through the body and into the urine. Even a person who did pass 3% of the caffeine into their urine could still consume a fair amount of caffeine. For example, a 140-pound athlete could consume 576mg of caffeine and not pass the legal limit—that’s as much as four lattes from Starbucks (Kuzma, 2014).
According to the most recent research, however, the edge that athletes experience after consuming caffeine isn’t nearly as intense as it was once thought—the margin is just 3-6% improvement. While this small amount can make a huge difference, especially among elite athletes, it is the same advantage that a runner gains after eating carbohydrates during a long race. Athletes also do not need to consume nearly as much caffeine as experts thought. Rather than slamming back several lattes or popping a handful of caffeine pills, a single cup of coffee can be beneficial to athletic performance. This means that even though some athletes turn to a little caffeine to give them a competitive edge, it is usually only a small part of a much larger regimen to ensure they are performing their best (Kuzma, 2014).
How Caffeine Effects Sports Performance
Caffeine has numerous applications in sports use. One of the ways that it works in sports is the same as it works for the average Joe enjoying their coffee as they go about their daily tasks. It delays feelings of fatigue in the body. The mind and body get tired when the body sends out the neurotransmitter adenosine, which is a sleep-related neurotransmitter. There are receptors assigned to detecting adenosine and, when they do, it creates the feeling of fatigue. Caffeine works by blocking thesereceptors that detect adenosine, and therefore stopingyou from feeling tired (Kuzma, 2014).
Pre-workout caffeine supplementation can also reduce poor training performance due to sleep deprivation reported researchers in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism. Although sleep deprivation led to large decreases in total workout load in this study, sleep-deprived subjects who took caffeine performed as well as those who were rested. Yet non-sleep-deprived individuals who received caffeine performed better than all other groups.
In addition to testing the use of caffeine and how it affects mental focus and fighting off fatigueduring sports, it has been tested in the areas of endurance, strength and short-term performance. Most scientists agree that there is only a minimal impact, if any, on short-term exercise. Though athleteslike sprinters might ingest caffeine prior to their race, it has less effect than consuming carbohydrates. However, it is very beneficial in long-term performance and endurance. One study gave one group of cyclists a moderate dose of caffeine, with two other groups (a placebo and a control group). The cyclists performed for an hour and the result was that those who had ingested the caffeine had 4-5% better performance than those who did not. The same study found that caffeine without water (in the form of powder or a caffeine pill) was more effective than caffeine from a cup of coffee. It has also been found that there is not a significant difference in performance when considering caffeine amounts—a lower dose has the same effect as a moderate dose (Evolution Nutrition, 2016).
One of the reasons that it is believed caffeine improves endurance is because of the way that it mobilizes fat in the body. In the average person, the body burns glycogen to create energy. Glycogen is a fuel source, that isstored in the liver and muscles of thebody and isthe second fastest energy source for us to use. The problem is, once glycogen stores are depleted, the athlete starts to feel fatigued and may not perform as well as they did at the beginning of the athletic event (Kattouf, 2015).
This is the reason that marathon runners may consume carbohydrates while they are training. The additional carbs can be burned as fuel during the race. This means they do not have to worry about feeling exhausted or “hitting the wall” before they finish, because the body is more adequately prepared with fuel for the race.
When athletes consume coffee it mobilizes fat stores in the body, or in other words, your body burns fat for fuel, which delays the depletion of glycogen stores, allowing you to go a little longer and push a little further through that workout or athletic event.In other words, caffeine can helpthe athlete perform more repetition during times of muscle endurance, push themselves harder for longer periods, and improve their overall performance (Kattouf, 2015).
Regarding the performance of strength athletes, the information from studies has been mixed. The general conclusion shows that there may be an increase in performance for muscular endurance but that the effect on power and strength come from the release of noradrenaline, adrenaline, and dopamine, giving the user a feeling of energy, wakefulness, and well-being. (Evolution Nutrition, 2016).
For this reason, pre-workout supplements do a very good job in stimulating these hormones to give you the effect of being “wired” with a sharp focus on the task ahead.
Why Caffeine is Banned/Limited in Some Sports
Even though numerous studies have been conducted on how exactly caffeine affects performance, the jury is still out on if it truly gives sucha competitive edge, and if at allshould itbe banned in sports. This is reflected in the numerous times that caffeine has been added to and removed from various ‘banned drug’ lists for sporting events. As new evidence and research shifts opinion on the use of caffeine as a sports stimulant, so do the attitudes about how ‘fair’ it is for use during sporting events. It was once banned for use by Olympic athletes, with limits being placed on the amount of caffeine they were allowed to have in their system during an Olympic sporting event. In 2004, however, these restrictions were lifted (Kuzma, 2014).
Even though the ban in the Olympics was lifted, there are still some sports where it is not allowed. For example, the NCAA (National College Athletes Association) added caffeine to their banned drug list for the 2018 sports year (NCAA, 2017). Many of those who support caffeine being kept on a banned list believe that it can hurt players in the long run. The NCAA, for example, cites their decision because health risksassociated with high doses of caffeine, especially for long-term use. This includes things like anxiety, high blood pressure, gastrointestinal issues and even irregular heartbeat whichhas the potential of causing death (Kuzma, 2014). One could argue, however, that asingle cup of coffee discovered to enhance performance cannot cause these severe side effects of long-term use.
Additionally, it must be brought to attention that athletes may not even be consuming caffeine intentionally. Caffeine comes in more forms than energy drinks, coffee, and caffeine pills. It can also be found in chocolate, tea, and soft drinks, just to name a few. Food labelsdonot have to listcaffeineeven though those food items may very well contain caffeine some sources include guarana berries, yaupon holly, guayusa, and yerba mate (Coffee & Health, 2014). This explains why there have been limits placed on caffeine consumption for sports, rather than banning it altogether. It was to distinguish between those that consume caffeine to gain an advantage over their competitors and those who consumed caffeine as part of a daily habit (Human Kinetics, 2017).
If you didn’t know already,I was an NCAA DivisionI strength coach and I cannot countthe amount oftimes we had meetings about pre-workout supplements with our athletes, trulycrazy. We actually had one of our athletes suspended after testing positive for stimulants found in one of theirpre-workouts. I cannot stress this enough to student-athletes, even if it is sold in a local GNC, do not take it if it has a banned substance on it!
Common Opinions on Caffeine Use by Elite Athletes
One study, after the ban was lifted by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), was conducted byadministering a questionnaire to 140 triathletes. These athletes were dispersed among 15 different countries and included many elite competitors, including competitors from the 2005 Ironman Triathlon. By investigating the results of the questionnaire, it becomes clear that athletes have a ‘pro-caffeine’ attitude. An astonishing 84% reported that they ingested caffeine to boost their focus during the competition, while 73% reported believing caffeine could enhance their stamina. Surprisingly, coffee was not the most popular way of ingesting caffeine—24% experienced positive results using caffeinated gels, while 65% reported positive feelings after drinking cola before a sports competition (Human Kinetics, 2017).
While it was clear that the athletes from the sample had positive feelings and experiences after ingesting caffeine, there was a lot of confusion regarding the legality of the substance. What they did know about caffeine and performance either came from experimenting on their own results, journal articles or magazines,or fellow athletes. Additionally, although 89% of these athletes planned on using caffeine for future performances, 25% were unsure of how ‘legal’ it was to do so. Interestingly enough, the athletes who admitted to consuming the most caffeine were aware of its status—they ingested an average of 415 mg of caffeine, compared to those who dosed around 222mg of caffeine (Human & Kinetics, 2017).
Even though it is no longer illegal, just restricted in some sports arenas, caffeine still remains a supplement of interest. Athletes submit to testing before each competition to monitor for aids that might be improving performance. Caffeine remains among those tested, more as a way to detect trends in usage than to discourage use however (Evolution Nutrition, 2016).
Legality is not the only ‘gray’ area regarding caffeine consumption. It turns out, there are many misconceptions regarding its use for athletic performance. One regards caffeine’s status as a diuretic or a dehydrating factor. The truth is that when caffeine is consumed as coffee or any other caffeinated beverage, especially by people who drink it regularly, it does count as fluids in the body. Even the United States military has conducted studies on this—wondering just how much caffeine troops need to stay awake and primed for battle while keeping good levels of hydration in dry desert areas. While extremely high doses can be detrimental to overall levels of hydration through the day, the amount that athletes can legally (and effectively) use for training does not even come close to this amount (Clark, 2005).
Practical Advice for Athletes Using Caffeine for Performance
Instead of focusing on restricting caffeine, when there are much more dangerous substances that have worse long-term risks, it may be better to advise athletes on the best way to consume caffeine for sports endurance. Some guidelines that athletes should follow include (Kuzma, 2014):
Never try it for the first time during competition – If athletes do choose to consume caffeine during a competition, they should use it during practice to see how it affects them. This is especially true in high-stake performance when athletes should be sure they are competing at their best.
Timing is everything – The effects of caffeine are usually felt 45 minutes to an hour after ingestion. This is how long it takes to pass through the digestive tract and be absorbed into the bloodstream. This means athletes should drink caffeine about an hour before they perform. Instead of doubling up on coffee for later events (drinking a cup in the morning and then a cup before the performance), some experts recommend that athletes skip the morning dose and consume their caffeine closer to the time of their athletic performance.
Remember that caffeine is not a miracle supplement – Caffeine might give you a competitive edge, but it is only a small fraction of the things athletes must do to give their performance a boost. It is not a substitute for proper hydration and nutrition, as well as, being familiar with the equipment and regular training.
Something else to consider regarding caffeine’s effectiveness is the amount that athletes already consume daily. The stimulant effect of caffeine does not work as well for people who are used to its effects. Athletes may want to abstain from caffeine for this reason, aside from part of their training regimen or when they are preparing just before their athletic event (Clark, 2005). Finally, even though many experts recommend consuming caffeine just an hour before a performance, athletes should remember that the effects come in anywhere from three to six hours later. Some professionals even recommend consuming caffeine 2-3 hours before a performance, so that it has a chance to mobilize the fats and make it ready to be burned for energy. This is because the first 15 minutes of the activity is when the body needs to preserve its glycogen stores the most (Karrouf, 2015).
Even though caffeine has been analyzed and studied for effectiveness in sports performance for decades, there is still much research to be done. One of the best things an athletes who isinterested in caffeine for performance can do is train with the use of caffeine to see how it affects them. Try it out an hour before exercising, as well as three hours before an intense workout regimen. Additionally, athletes should keep in mind that there is a maximum amount of caffeine that can boost performance, and more is not always the better choice. In fact, to prevent jitteriness, edginess, and potential irregular heartbeat, athletes should stick to the amount that works best for them individually to increase their performance. Additionally, it is important to stay current on the information regarding caffeine in performance and if it has been banned in certain competitions. Always adhere to the guidelines provided by sports organizations to prevent disqualification.
Once you got your nutrition and training dialed in you may want to consider using supplements. Supplements should be used just as their name implies; to supplement an already sound training and diet plan. Too many times novice lifters will get caught in the hype of muscle magazines and waste their money on ineffective and potentially dangerous supplements. However, there is one particular supplement that has proven itself time and time again. That supplement is creatine monohydrate.
What is creatine?
Creatine is arguably the most research tested and proven supplement available for strength/hypertrophy athletes. In fact, in over 500 studies conducted on creatine’s performance benefits, 70% have shown significant improvements, and none have seen detriment (Wells & Esgro, 2013). Technically speaking, creatine is a non-protein nitrogen-containing compound that is made from the amino acids arginine, glycine, and methionine (Brunzel, 2003). In other words, creatine is a compound that is naturally occurring in the body. Most of the body’s creatine stores reside in skeletal muscle, although trace amounts are also found in the eyes, brain, testes, and kidneys (Kreider et al., 2008). Not only that, creatine is also commonly found in foods such as meat and fish.
What does it do?
One of creatine’s functions in the body is to buffer ATP (Feldman, 1999). This means that was your body uses ATP for muscle contractions, creatine donates its phosphate group to help sustain ATP production. Within the body creatine also functions as an osmolyte (Alfieri et al., 2006). Osmolytes help to draw water into cells. This can give your muscle “fuller” appearance and will also enhance cell swelling, a potent anabolic stimulus (Schoenfeld, 2010). Creatine may also assist in recovery from exercise if combined with a carbohydrate source. A study by Nelson, Arnall, Kokkonen, Day, and Evens (2001) found that muscle glycogen levels can be enhanced by taking creatine prior to ingesting carbohydrates. The enhanced glycogen stores will provide more energy to fuel you through your grueling workouts.
Perhaps creatine’s most widely known benefits are its ability to increase both lean body mass and strength. A recent study just reconfirmed these benefits when they saw greater strength and lean body mass in subjects how took creatine over a placebo, regardless of timing (Candow, Vogt, Johannsmeyer, Forbes, & Farthing, 2015). Although strength may seem more beneficial to a powerlifter than a bodybuilder, do not underestimate its value. The ability to lift heavier weights during your workout will result in an increased overload and volume. If periodized correctly the greater training volume will work wonders in developing muscle mass.
If my body naturally stores creatine then why do I need to supplement?
The body naturally stores about 120 grams of creatine for a 70 kg individual. However, after creatine supplementation, the body has shown to hold up to 160 grams (Buford et al., 2007). The extra creatine equals additional explosive energy and the ability to better utilize the body’s alactic (non-lactate producing) energy system.
Creatine Myths and Misconceptions
Now that we have covered what creatine does, it’s time to dispel the most common myths about creatine. The most prevalent myths surrounding creatine are: all weight gained during creatine supplementation is due to water, creatine causes renal distress, creatine causes cramping and dehydration, long-term effects of effects of creatine supplementation are entirely unknown, and creatine use is illegal. Over the years research has refuted all of these claims (Buford et al., 2007). As with any supplement, you should be an informed consumer and understand what the literature has to say about a product before you buy it.
Before creatine can express its full ergogenic effects, it must be loaded into the body. A recent meta-analysis on creatine found the typical load to be about 20 grams per day over the course of 5 to 7 days (Lanhers et al., 2015). The dose is typically split up to several smaller amounts taken during the day. Following a creatine load, a maintenance dose of 5 grams daily is common. A wash-out period for creatine is not needed because long-term creatine use does not result in suppression of endogenous creatine production after cessation of use (Wells & Esgro, 2013).
Is creatine safe?
As addressed earlier, the myth that creatine causes renal distress is not supported by research. Additionally, there have been studies conducted on individuals taking creatine for decades with no side effects (Buford et al., 2007). The only significant side effect seen with creatine supplementation is weight gain.
When should I take creatine?
Like other nutrients, there may be a benefit to strategically timing creatine ingestion. Research by (Antonio & Ciccone, 2013) showed that in resistance trained males, creatine taken post-workout was slightly more advantages in terms of body composition and strength gains when compared to pre-workout consumption. A practical recommendation is to add creatine to the post-workout shake/meal to possibly elicit synergistic benefits such as the increase in glycogen replenishment.
What form of creatine is best?
Over the last few years, there has been a surge of novel forms of creatine coming out. The newer forms include ethyl esters, tri-creatine malate, buffered creatine, conjugated creatine, and others. The efficacy of these newer types is favorable for some and not so much with others (Wells & Esgro, 2013). From an economical and performance standpoint, it is best to stick with the basic creatine monohydrate. To date, research has not found alternative forms of creatine to promote greater retention than the monohydrate variety.
When taken in the appropriate dosage, creatine monohydrate supplementation has shown to be both safe and effective. Creatine can improve muscular strength, lean body mass, cell swelling, glycogen storage, and more. All of these ergogenic benefits will help the bodybuilder progress towards optimal performance. Even better is that most of the negative aspects rumored around creatine turn out to be untrue and unsupported. In the wild west supplement industry, creatine is a compound you can count on.
Antonio, J. & Ciccone, V. (2013). The effects of pre versus post workout supplementation of creatine monohydrate on body composition and strength. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 10(36). doi: 10.1186/1550-2783-10-36
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Kreider, R.B., Kalman, D.S., Antonio, J., Ziegenfuss, T.N., Wildman, R., Collins, R., … Lopez, H.L. (2017). International society of sports nutrition position stand: Safety and efficacy of creatine supplementation in exercise, sport, and medicine. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 14(18).
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Nelson, A.G., Arnall, D.A., Kokkonen, J., Day, R., & Evens. J. (2001). Muscle glycogen supercompensation is enhanced by prior creatine supplementation. Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise, 33(7), 1096 – 1100.
Schoenfeld, B. (2010). The mechanisms of muscular hypertrophy and their application to resistance training. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 24(10), 2857 – 2872.
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