Stop Counting Sheep, I Have The Answer
[ Q ] My question is on Melatonin. I was wondering if you could tell me a little more about this supplement. What is it exactly and how does it work? Is it really that effective for helping you fall asleep? I am interested in knowing how it works? Please explain more in detail so that I can make a wise choice when I go to the health food store.
A: Hey Joanne I am glad to hear from you. It's nice to hear from some of the Power Vixens out there too - not always just the men writing in. So for all you ladies of power - feel free to write me too, I am not going to bite... unless you want me to. Ok, joking aside, you want to know what the deal is with Melatonin. No worries my dear you will find what you are looking for.
The Sleep Wake-Cycle & The Powerlifter:
Scientists have done many different studies to understand how the human body relates and reacts to Sleep-Wake Cycle. As for all humans (except for those vampire like ex-wives; ha, ha) to be awake during the daylight hours and to fall asleep during the dark period of the day is the normal function of rest and play. One major key in this process is how the exposure to darkness or light affects our Sleep-Wake Cycle.
Studies have shown that when a human is exposed to light it causes a stimulation of a nerve pathway located from the retina in the eye to a very important part of the brain known as the Hypothalamus. In the Hypothalamus there is a control center known as the Suprachiasmatic Nucleus (SCN).
This control center is responsible for initiating signals to different parts of your brain that control many different processes and physiological reactions. These include such things as body temperature, hormone production as well as processes that affect if we feel alert and awake or sleepy.
The SCN is basically your body clock that sets up patterns that regulate your activities. You may not know this but from the first time you are exposed to light in the morning your SCN clock begins its work. In no time your body temperature is raised and hormone production is increased for those that are needed and inhibits those that are not required until a later time.
| Suprachiasmatic Nucleus:
The suprachiasmatic nucleus is one of four nuclei that receive nerve signals from the retina, the other three being the lateral geniculate nucleus (aka LGN), superior colliculus, and the pretectum. The LGN is responsible for passing information about color, contrast, shape, and movement on to the visual cortices. The superior colliculus is responsible for controlling the movement and orientation of the eyeball itself. The pretectum is responsible for controlling the size of the pupil.
What, Why & Who:
Melatonin is used to help induce sleep. It is actually secreted by the Pineal gland. This pea-sized gland is located at the center of the brain. Melatonin's purpose is to regulate the human sleep and wake cycles that allow us to function efficiently and keep healthy. Melatonin is synthesized by the pineal gland on the action of the neurotransmitter called Serotonin.
As with many things, the aging process takes its toll on all of us and it leads to a decreased production of Melatonin as we age. This is one reason why young people can sleep like a log while older people encounter different sleeping problems. Melatonin has been shown to help individuals fall asleep, even those who suffer from sleep disorders, much easier.
It also is a potent antioxidant. I am sure many of you didn't know that. It has also been shown to increase immune response as well. This can help you fight off foreign invaders from taking over your body and turning into a coughing, aching, sneezing germ factory.
Another group of people that find a lot of benefit to Melatonin is those that travel frequently by flying through different time zones. For those that do this frequently like pilots, stewardesses, or businessmen this can be a major problem making the body feel worn down and out of sync. Melatonin has been shown to help overcome this jet lag and fatigue that is associated with constant cross time zone travelling.
How Much To Take:
With Melatonin you do not need a lot to get the job done that is for sure. I recommend for those who have not used it before to use 1-1.5mg to start before bedtime. If you are not getting the desired effect you can increase it to 3mg but this should be the maximum dose.
Side Effects & Toxicity:
Now many of you will be wondering what the side effects are. Any educated individual will be wondering about this. The only thing that makes me laugh is those individuals that down 40oz. of Jack Daniels over the weekend, eat fast food daily, and eat enough junk food to give diabetes to a small country then worry if this herb or that supplement may hurt them. Ha...
I guess I have to laugh at these fools. Anyway before I get sidetracked on the horrible nutritional practices of a large majority of people in North America let's get back to Melatonin.
In regards to the toxicity level with Melatonin it really isn't something to worry about. In some studies, test subjects were given in the range of 3,000 times the normal dose and they didn't have a toxic reaction.
Now just because I let you in on this info don't go out and do something stupid and take a lot of it because that Nutrition Guy said it was ok. Morons take note... do not do this! The major complaints for side effects include nightmares, headaches, and mild depression. This occurred with about 10% of test subjects suffering from them.
Those Who Should Not Take Melatonin:
There are specific individuals that should not take Melatonin. These include women who are pregnant or breast-feeding. Those women who are trying to get pregnant should also avoid it because when taken in higher dosages it can work like a contraceptive. Those with allergies and auto immune diseases should also not use it.
This also includes different types of cancers including leukemia or lymphoma. The best thing to remember is if you do have any medical condition it is best to check with your doctor to make sure there are not any interactions with your current prescription.
Is It For You?
So as you can see Melatonin can provide some huge benefits for those who are frequent travelers or those who occasionally suffer from sleep disorders. There are also those that should avoid it either due to their medical conditions or current situation. I personally have used Melatonin with great results.
I have found that I fall asleep much easier but even more important than that I wake up feeling very fresh and rested. Even the nights where I have gotten little sleep due to my hectic work schedule and I have taken Melatonin, I noticed that I didn't wake up groggy nor did I feel tired the rest of the day.
I didn't have to drag my @ss around like a zombie either. I have also used it with some of my athletes and they have all noticed some positive response. Many athletes noted that they felt like they attained a deeper level of sleep while using it. Many also claimed that it helped their rate of recovery due to the fact that their body was better rested.
So if you are interested in trying Melatonin give it a shot if you are not one of the people mentioned above and make sure that you use it in a proper fashion about half an hour before bedtime.
Are You Getting In Enough Fiber?
[ Q ] I wanted to let you know that I am a big fan of your articles. I have learned so much reading them, not only about the science behind nutrition but even more importantly for me is how I can use it to get a bigger total. I have read how you preach about getting in enough fiber in your plan. I was wondering if you can give me some ideas to help me get more in my diet?
A: Rebecca it is good to hear from you. Thanks for the kind words about my articles. I try my best to help educate the lifter in maximizing his or her performance and making sure that they stay healthy at the same time.
Fiber... this is the word that evokes fear in a lot of lifters. For what reason I don't know but a large majority of lifters avoid it like I told them to have a Botulism sandwich. I have touted the health and performance benefits of getting enough fiber in ones daily meal plan.
| What Is Botulism?
Botulism (from Latin botulus, "sausage") is a rare but serious paralytic illness caused by a nerve toxin, botulin, that is produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. Botulin is the most potent known toxin, blocking nerve function and leading to respiratory and musculoskeletal paralysis.
It will not only help you maintain your blood sugar levels and drop fat but it will also help keep your arteries from clogging. Ok, so you want some ideas on how to get your fiber intake in without having to eat a pound of hay everyday. Well you should be getting in at least 25 grams per day as a minimum, but 40-50 is really where lifters should be at in their daily fiber intake.
Let's take a look at high fiber fruits first. Raspberries have a whopping 10 grams of fiber per cup. Blackberries have about 7.5 grams, kiwi have 5.5 per 2 medium sized fruits, and blueberries have 4.4 grams per cup.
For your high fiber veggies: lima beans are the king with 9 grams per cup, peas rate an 8.8, while broccoli has 5.5 grams. Carrots round the bunch out with 5.2 grams, cauliflower with 4.5 grams and spinach comes in last with 4.3 grams.
Now here is where all powerlifters should be come breakfast time. Yes it's the dreaded high fiber cereal that their grandmothers used to eat. All Bran leads the pack with a colon busting 19.5 grams per cup. Multi Bran Chex, which tastes great by the way, has 9 grams per cup, while Shredded Wheat and Bran come in third with 6.4 grams.
Let's not forget my all time favorite oatmeal, which rounds things out with 5.8 grams per cup. So now that you know what some of the best high fiber foods are it is time to start dropping them in your plan.
Another thing that you can do is take some psyillium powder in your diet.
This is a great way to get in enough fiber daily especially when you are guilty of not eating the above foods on a daily basis. If powerlifters would just heed my words and understand how important it is to keep enough fiber in their diet they would be getting it in no matter what.
Physilium can make a world of difference in getting in the total number of grams that you need everyday. The fact remains that you should be having 2-3 bowel movements per day and that's everyday not just on Saturdays when you go to the $2.99 all you can eat Fajita Madness Marathon.
Burn Fat & Build Muscle Like Never Before!
[ Q ] I want to do two things at the same time. I want to drop fat but yet I don't want to lose strength. I know that I want my cake and eat it too but is such a thing possible?
I have heard from lifters that you have worked with. They have actually done this but I am not a pro powerlifter like them? Can this still work for me even though I am a beginner?
A: Hey Bob thanks for reading my column. Now to let you know, to build lean muscle tissue while decreasing your body fat level at the same time is not something your body wants to do.
To make this scenario even more complicated, powerlifters being strength athletes want to increase their strength or at the bare minimum maintain it as they go down a weight class. If you have noticed lifters of yesteryear - going down a weight class always caused them to make some major decrements in their strength.
This is due to the fact they did not know how to maintain their lean tissue while only dropping fat. They also didn't understand the science behind making sure strength is not sacrificed in this process. Of course what I am saying here is something that is very complicated.
I have worked with several different lifters that have actually gone down a weight class, dropped a huge amount of body fat and yet have hit PR's in their lifts. I know most of you can't imagine this and without a very detailed and customized nutrition and supplementation program I guarantee you it won't happen.
The fact remains that what you put in your mouth plays a huge role in your performance. For all those haters out there, sitting on their couch eating ice cream and potato chips by the pound I am sure you will disagree with me. But when your arteries are clogged like a Los Angeles Free Way at rush hour and your Pancreas is the size of a football, I am sure then you will look me up hoping that I can get things cleared up before its too late.
When you are trying to do something as complicated as going down a class while maintaining or increasing your strength, not just any type of nutrition plan will get the job done.
Your macronutrient balance, your micronutrient intake, your pre- and post workout nutrition and supplementation plans, your fat intake and ratios, hydration level, hormonal manipulation and much more will all play a distinct role in your dream becoming a success.
The fact that I work with each athlete on a weekly basis and sometimes even more often with phone consults (email is another reason for this success being possible). When you have an expert guiding you along the way and constantly monitoring you step by step, I will be able to make sure things are going as planned.
|WHAT'S YOUR GOAL|
If there is any area of concern I can alter things to adjust to the current situation to make sure that your progress continues until you reach your goal and beyond. So yes if you are interested in dropping some fat while maintaining your strength... I can do one better.
I will get your fat down and improve, not maintain your strength, all at the same time. As for you being a beginner this is not a problem. The fact remains: if a lifter who is just getting into the sport gets his nutrition angle maximized will see much higher quality gains and he will overtrain less, suffer from fewer injuries down the road and hit PR's that would have taken him much much longer to attain without this important area being overlooked.
Get In The Zinc... Unless You Want Man Boobs!
[ Q ] I have heard that zinc is a very important vitamin. Is this true? What are some of the benefits that it has on the body and the performance of the powerlifter? I was wondering if you can give me a good breakdown on this because I heard that taking in the right amount can actually increase your performance from different angles.
I don't really know anything on how it works in the body or what it actually does so I figured you would be the best guy to ask to get a comprehensive answer. Thanks for all your help.
A: Hey John what's up man? So you are wondering what the deal is with zinc eh? Ok buddy here it goes. First off Zinc is not a vitamin like you thought. Zinc is an essential mineral that is found in almost every cell in the human body. I bet you didn't know that one my friend.
One thing that is very important about zinc is the fact that it stimulates the activity of close to 300 different enzymes in the body. These enzymes in turn (just in case you don't know) are what promote different biochemical reactions in your body.
One very important biochemical reaction that all powerlifters especially of the male species (ha, ha) should take note is the fact that zinc is a key attribute in the production of testosterone. This alone should make you sit up and take notice because this is crucial for the success of your training.
Zinc also plays a major role in protein metabolism. Remember its not just how much protein and the quality that you take in per day, but your body's ability to process, metabolize and use in the process of protein synthesis.
Zinc has been shown to increase your immune response and this is something all lifters can benefit from. So not only is this good to take when you are sick but keeping it in your supplement plan before hand can help make sure you don't get ill in the first place.
Androgen & Estrogen Receptors:
For those "Pharmaceutically Enhanced" lifters out there pay attention this is important. A zinc deficiency can actually reduce your number of androgen receptors while at the same time increasing your estrogen receptors. As I have mentioned before your muscle cells contain different receptors on them.
In layman's terms you can picture these receptor sites to be like a satellite dish on the cell. So when a specific molecule (like our friend Testosterone) is floating through your blood it can bind to the receptor (and without going into the science of it all) will be activated to do the work it is responsible for.
So a decrease in androgen receptors means that less of the "Pharmaceuticals" that you are taking will bind with these receptors. This in turn means that depending on how severe a decrement that has occurred with your androgen receptors, you will not be able to maximize your "Anabolic Environment" as efficiently and optimize your results from your Pharmaceutical Cycle.
To make this even better it will also cause an increase in estrogen receptors so this will lead to an increase in things like bloating, gynocomastia or "Bitch Tits", water retention, fat gain, the smooth and soft look and much more horrible things that real men don't like happening.
So to all the "Enhanced" lifters out there make sure that your zinc intake is optimal. You see the Nutritional Sciences and the Pharmaceutical Sciences work hand in hand to produce maximum results and to reach levels that were never thought possible.
The next thing you need to know about this is because the ratio of androgen receptors decreases and at the same time the estrogen receptors are taking over like a communist army, this means your androgen to estrogen ratio of binding activity will be all out of whack setting you up for more side effects from the pharmaceuticals that you are taking.
This deficiency will also set you up for the androgens that are in your blood to aromatize into estrogen. So not only is your body using the androgens, that you are administering, not as efficiently as it should due to less receptor activity, but at the same time the androgens that you do have floating in your bloodstream are also converting to estrogen.
This is a double whammy attack on your results as well as your manhood. This in turn will allow them to bind to the increased number of estrogen receptors leading you to become a DD Model in no time. So as you can see this is a very serious thing here because you are basically setting yourself up for increased side effects, and decreased activity of your pharmaceutical plan (meaning you won't get the gains you should).
You also get to join the "CLUB" that many of the old men in the change room of your local gym already have a lifetime membership to... MAN BOOBS INTERNATIONAL. So as you can see the above scenario isn't too exciting at least for those who are not members of this worldwide organization.
Zinc is also responsible for healthy sperm production. For those men who want to keep their "Swimmers" healthy then make sure that you a taking in enough zinc on a daily basis. Now if you read my column from a few months back about Cortisol then you should pay attention.
As you probably already know if you read that issue, Cortisol is a catabolic hormone that is responsible for not only eating up your muscle and strength while making you resemble the Michelin Man, but also for many different health condition.
To View Top Selling Cortisol Blockers Click Here.
When you are zinc deficient your blood levels of this nasty hormone increase dramatically. So if you remember from that article when this happens GH and IGF-1 production go out the window. It can also throw you in a major catabolic state since your testosterone to Cortisol ratio has become favorable for this muscle eating hormone and not for the one that builds muscle and makes a man a man.
Another very important fact is how zinc affects your thyroid hormones. I mentioned this in a previous article but I will recap just in case you missed it.
The thyroid hormone T4 is the inactive form and it must convert to the active form known as T3. The all-important liver enzyme that is responsible for this conversion taking place is 5-deiodinase. For this enzyme to activate, one of the minerals that needs to be involved is zinc.
Let's not forget that T3 is what controls your metabolic rate, your ability to burn fat and it is also responsible for protein synthesis. So as you can see here this is very important for keeping your thyroid healthy.
How Much & When?
So with all the above knowledge that you probably never even had a clue about you need to take best advantage of it. First off, shoot for about 15-30mg of zinc per day. Next don't take it with your fiber supplement because it will block its absorption.
Two of the better-absorbed forms of zinc are Monomethionine and Gluconate. By getting an optimal amount of zinc in on a daily basis you can look forward to a higher testosterone level, a healthier sperm count, increased androgen to estrogen receptor ratio, improved immune function and much more. So take it from me get your zinc in because your health and performance will be glad that you did.
To View Top Selling Zinc Products Click Here.
So until next month train hard, eat like a beast, and make sure that you don't earn your Membership in the Man Boob International club.