The Stack!

I'm writing this article in response to the back and forth bickering between Stephen Andersen, Callum Mahoney and Todd Torns. I will tell you the TRUTH regarding these supplement stacks.

Peer Review
Reviewing other articles around Bodybuilding.com.

This is a review of other articles that have been published on Bodybuilding.com. The articles in question this time are:

I'm writing this article in response to the back and forth bickering between Stephen Andersen, Callum Mahoney and Todd Torns. It's obvious neither of these guys has the faintest clue what they are talking about to begin with, and now it seems they are peer reviewing each other just to spite each other. Which pissed me off, because if we are going to have a peer review system to target bad articles, I find it pointless if we're only going to use it to badger each other when we know we are wrong and fill up the extra space with bad peer reviews. The drop that did it for me was when Steve Andersen went crying to Callum Mahoney (how mature is that?) after Todd Torns posted a peer review to his ridiculous article called the stack. The rebuttle he wrote afterwards was based purely on the correspondence between Todd and Callum (in other words he didn't even have the guts or the knowledge to do his own dirty work, so why is he defending something he knows is bad?) And as I intend to prove, Callum knows equally little about these matters. Instead of drawing conclusions and realizing none of them are capable of writing on the subject, they intend to fight it out in a back and forth peer review war. I'm sick and tired of Steve's immature attitude and tend to rectify the situation once and for all. Below is his peer review called defending the stack based on what "Callum said". I copied it and added my version which is slightly more accurate. Enjoy and learn how a know-it-all like Steve Andersen is getting away with writing articles he knows absolutely squat about.

"Todd, I have just read your stack article and as a fellow Bodybuilding.com writer I must say I'm pretty pissed off. Not that you criticized Stephen Andersen's article (He is my training partner but we both have discussed how bad this article of his was) but the fact you would attack a fellow writer's article when clearly you yourself have little idea what you are on about."

I, for one, fail to see the relevance of this paragraph to begin with. So they're buddies and they stick up for each other. There is no reference here as to what qualifies either person to give advice on supplementation, nor of why "the Stack" would in fact work. As for people attacking each other, I have to agree that the opening paragraph of Todd Torns' peer review was kind of crude and direct, where it should have stuck to pointing out why the stacks did not work.

"Ando's statement about glutamine and t-levels was wrong but he probably meant GH levels. [I did, that was a mistake on my behalf - SA] Glut raises them 500% in some cases but of course you didn't know that. Then you said glutamine doesn't aid in muscle growth. (?) Increasing GH builds muscle. You yourself said it suppresses cortisol. Cortisol is one of the main reasons muscle isn't grown. Cortisol is CATABOLIC. It eats at muscles and is made while you sleep. Taking glut before bed suppresses cortisol=more muscle."

Now we are getting lessons in terminology. I'll get into the specifics of why glutamine doesn't do all the things it claims to do in a minute, for this paragraph I want to limit myself to the Cortisol. Cortisol is catabolic, glutamine can suppress cortisol build-up. Totally correct. Cortisol is catabolic. Still on the right track. Taking glutamine = more muscle, well that's incorrect. More muscle is a term dubbed anabolic. Since cortisol is catabolic, the act of stopping it is dubbed anti-catabolic. Not meaning more muscle, but meaning it decreases the chance of losing existing muscle. It's terminology, but there is a HUGE, nay VAST difference between the two. As I intend to demonstrate glutamine has no action in building new muscle which is what I understood from "more muscle". One added noted my friend fitforlife called attention to is that even if the glutamine did raise GH levels that still means nothing, since GH is not anabolic at all. For the reference: Two studies administered in humans have shown NO BENEFICIAL EFFECTS ON MUSCLE OR PERFORMANCE.

Acta Endocrinol (Copenh) 1993 Apr;128(4):313-8 Effect of growth hormone treatment on hormonal parameters, body composition and strength in athletes.

Deyssig R, Frisch H, Blum WF, Waldhor T.

Department of Paediatrics, University of Vienna, Austria.

Exerc Sport Sci Rev 1994;22:285-312 Growth hormone effects on metabolism, body composition, muscle mass, and strength.

Yarasheski KE.

Metabolism Division, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri

"Also glutamine's main claim to fame is restoring glycogen levels = more muscle and better recovery and it also dramatically improves the nitrogen balance in the muscle (hold on, wait for it) = more muscle. This is why glutamine should be in every serious bodybuilder's cupboard."

Ok, now glutamine can do a lot of things. This has been established scientifically. Of course for a nutrient to operate within the system it has to be in that system. Now the physiology of a non-essential amino acid (in this case glutamine) is such that it is only absorbed readily when there isn't enough of it to go around. Now observe the bulking bodybuilders lifestyle. Eating 1 to 1.5 grams of protein as every good bodybuilder does supplies 15 to 20 times the needed amount of glutamine. On top of that the diet is high in carbs, at least if they want to grow because carbs spare protein. Meaning all 15 to 20 times are being used. Should because of some freak occurrence you be left without adequate glutamine, the body prefers to make it out of essential amino acids which are readily absorbed. Such is also the physiology of the non-essential amino acid. This means supplemental glutamine sits in your lower intestines, isn't used and is finally excreted. Now how exactly does it do all those things you claim if the stuff never even gets in your system? Also I'd like to know who told you that glutamine increases nitrogen retention. Only arganine is a source for NO. My conclusion here would be glutamine is not absorbed = less money you could have spent on something that did get absorbed.

On a diet things are different. You are burning protein, your carbs are low, no protein sparing and glutamine is easily used as an alternate fuel source. Meaning supplying extra glutamine is important so that gets burned instead of body glutamine being pulled from muscle tissue. That's catabolism, so once again glutamine is an anti-catabolic with its main and in my opinion only use of keeping the lean muscle on while dieting down.

"Let's see what's next. Ah yes, Vanadyl. What magic vanadyl do you use and where can I get some. Vanadyl doesn't stop the conversion of carbs into fat. I wish it did. Vanadyl mimics insulin which drives more carbs into the blood steam leaving less to be turned into fat. It also drives more Creatine into the cells, like ALA. How does it aid muscle growth. Well it mimics insulin driving the nutrients into the muscles. Insulin is the main mass building hormone believe it or not. It is VERY ANABOLIC. The whole logic for low carb cutting is to control insulin levels so fat can be burnt because insulin builds mass!

I for one would like to know who would spend money on vanadyl? First of all a good dose of vanadyl is 75 mg. The toxicity line, the dangerous part, starts at 100 mg. What you need to know about the trace element vanadium is that it stores readily in the body. Meaning 75 mg over 2-3 weeks will build up to toxic doses that can damage gains and health. That means use of vanadyl should be 3 weeks on and 12 weeks off, approximately the period it takes for it to clear from the body. That doesn't make this a very user-friendly product. Now as Callum likes to make my case, it mimics insulin and regulates blood-sugar levels. Just like D-Pinitol and ALA, both of which do a better job of it and cost considerably less per serving. I might add that neither is toxic at the used doses nor does either store well in the body, avoiding the problem of build-up. Insulin is anabolic, true. Vanadyl however is toxic and useless. And by the way, insulin does not build mass. Insulin provides the basic compounds for building mass, namely protein. Arganine and some enzymes make NO, NO is retained by cholesterol hormones. Nitrogen (NO) retention is what causes growth. Not insulin.

"Point taken on Tribulus but your T-levels are infinite and I know lots of teens who use trib religiously. I was one of these people. Trib is great!"

Excuse you? T-levels are infinite What freak planet of 500+ lbs bodybuilders do you come from? If that were true, nobody would need anabolic steroids to raise t-levels. T-levels are not infinite. Also trib is a friggin waste because it doesn't raise t-levels at all. To date two studies were done on tribulus and both proved it to be utter crap at raising t-levels. It gives you a boner, and most people associate that with testosterone, but it does nothing of the sort. Most of the establishment will agree with me on this, including Mr. Patrick Arnold, who knows more about anabolic chemistry than I ever will and that means a heck of a lot more than you will ever know. For reference I give you the two studies:

1. Brown GA, Vukovich MD, Reifenrath TA, Uhl NL, Parsons KA, Sharp RL, King
DS. Effects of anabolic precursors on serum testosterone concentrations and adaptations to resistance training in young men.
Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab 2000 Sep;10(3):340-59

2. Antonio J, Uelmen J, Rodriguez R, Earnest C.
The effects of Tribulus terrestris on body composition and exercise performance in resistance-trained males.
Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab 2000 Jun;10(2):208-15 Related Articles, Books, LinkOut

"Methoxy - Well I'll use my well worn creatine analogy. Creatine only works for 78% of people. Who says methoxy doesn't work for maybe 5%. You don't know. It doesn't work for me but I can vouch it does wonders for Steve. It helped him put on about 6 kg or 13 lbs in about six weeks and others such as Todd Blue etc."

Neither of which could establish anything because they were both using other sups at the time. This is something Psychologists like to call the placebo effect. Something happens and you accredit it to something else, even though it did no such thing. Any studies proving methoxy work were done on rats, in-house, by the company that owned the patent at the time (Chinoin, Hungary). All of the information spread about methoxy today is based on the 1977 US patent form by the way. Now for your entertainment I also give you this bit of trivia. There are two forms of methoxy, methoxyisoflavone and ipriflavone. Now the latter was found useless by Chinoin itself. This is a company that made the supplement that has been trashed in scientific peer reviews for the past three years, and it did not deem this good enough. Yet you are taking it. Something can be said for researching your material both ways here.

Moreover an article recently published in MD (courtesy of fitforlife) went on to prove to a lengthy extent that flavones, like methoxy, are potentially harmful to both gains and health. At this point I know I'm not jumping to try it. Your analogy also fails here. Creatine has a sound scientific backing and is heavily supported by thousands of clinical documents and trials. Methoxy is being trashed by thousands of clinical documents and trials. If methoxy does work for a percentage, as you claim, its about 0.000000001% and its always some skinny rookie or someone who can't prove it wasn't a placebo. These are facts, and unless you can present me with something other than theories please do not dicuss these matters any further.

"You are right ALA is an anti-oxidant but it works exactly like Vanadyl mimicking insulin and is in fact stronger that Vanadyl. It does increase energy too something to do with blood sugar and glycogen. It increases glycogen in your cells, so it combines well with Creatine."

Great comeback, first you promote vanadyl, now you are saying that this supplement which is cheaper and safer is also more effective. So why use vanadyl at all? Also like the defense on how it stacks well with creatine. Well he didn't stack it with creatine, he stacked it with ribose. So for what use? Ribose is a sugar and as such raises insulin by itself and gets stored as glycogen. Please enlighten me as to where exactly the ALA fits in?

"Dymetadrine Xtreme while a fat burner of such is more used to create balls to the wall intensity, you can lift heavier, harder and with more focus as long as you eat enough you will grow like anything. Xtreme isn't a typical fat burner--more stimulant."

Ephedrine raises the blood pressure. Meaning more calories are burned. Meaning unless you add more calories you aren't going to grow at all. Sounds a bit counterproductive if growth is your concern. I'd also like to refute that "as long as you eat you grow like anything" remark. Eph raises the amount of cathecholamines in the blood which have the habit of turning glycogen back to glucose, diminishing your energy storage (leaves for nasty depressions when coming of ECA) and switching the body over to burn fat and protein. Protein is consequently robbed from the muscle, meaning the muscle is catabolized. Explain to me now that remark about growing like anything?

"To be honest your stacks aren't bad. But could you explain how ribose will build mass better than anything Steve said? Don't get me wrong I love ribose but all it does is help with ATP production giving more energy. It has no muscle building effect at all unless you take a reasonable amount to spike your insulin levels but any sugar would do this as well as, hold on, Vanadyl or ALA."

Really? I thought Todd's stacks weren't that much better. But in defense of Ribose, it is the source of ATP production meaning more short-term anaerobic energy equating to heavier lifts, ending in more growth. Anybody disagree? Ribose is also the base compound of RNA, making RNA in the body transponds genetic messages allowing the build of new tissue. Muscle, FYI is a tissue. Sounds pretty sound to me. Now on the offense Ribose is too expensive to recommend to anyone for what little it does anyway. Creatine will do the same for less. Creatine can be absorbed using a weight gainer which is two flies at once since you need calories to grow. Again, why do we need vanadyl?

"Perhaps instead of saying "OK, the Creatine/Ribose stack will help you gain a lot of weight." You maybe should have said "Creatine would help you gain a lot of weight." Frankly my dear, ribose doesn't add an ounce."

It does, but at what cost? In fact you yourself stated that 22% of people don't respond to creatine, so how is creatine better?

"Anyway we all like constructive criticism and I hope you appreciate this, Fell free to criticize me next time but make sure you have half a clue about what you are talking about first."

Sound advice, try taking it next time. Besides, none of this is constructive, the three of you are arguing over opinions and nothing constructive has come out of this yet.

"All I have to say is that if you honestly think that Glutamine increases muscle mass, and Ribose doesn't go well with Creatine, you should not be writing for this site! And you should definitely not be telling me I don't know what I am talking about, because buddy, I know a lot more than you."

I sincerely doubt either of you is smarter than the other when it comes to these things, because you are both wrong. But Todd, how exactly is it that he can't tell you what to do on this if you yourself took the liberty of telling Steve what to do?

"I shouldn't be writing? Hahaha. Now I know why Seinfeld quit because he had too much competition from you."

Between the two of you, the entire stand-up comedy profession will now officially retire.

"I never said ribose and creatine do not go well together. I think that's what you meant to say, perhaps you should learn a new language, may I suggest English. "and Ribose doesn't go well if Creatine"(?) They go great together as the ATP nucleotides that creatine doesn't replace are replaced by the ribose. But I said ribose doesn't make you bigger because it doesn't. It replaces ATP nucleotides lost during exercise giving you more anaerobic energy and allows you to train longer and harder. It does not increase protein synthesis or volumize cells. It is just a sugar. A small and quite stupid school of thought is that is also spikes insulin (remember it's something you may wish to learn of if you wanna be a bodybuilder) and drives the creatine into the muscle better but studies now show a 50/50 protein/carb meal do the same and you can use Vanadyl and ALA to do that as well."

Vandyl and ALA will contribute exactly 2% compared to the 50/50 mix which is protein/sugar by the way and is best laced with additional, easy-to-digest complex carbs as well. I have the study here if you don't believe me, I'd be happy to send you a summary and a reference if needed. And for your information, Ribose is the base of the ATP chain, creatine replenishes it and not the other way around. Any form of sugar does volumize cells and no Ribose does not stimulate protein synthesis, but neither does creatine. So why bring it up? Why bring it up anyway, because Steve had it in his stack too, and I don't hear you moaning about that...

"Now for glutamine. Perhaps you don't know how muscle is built or anything about you body so I will put it as simply as possible. Here are some reasons about why I have come to love Glutamine:

· 1. People buy HGH to get big. HGH makes you big and increases lean body mass. Glutamine raises GH levels. Glutamine increases lean body mass.

· 2. Anabolism is the state of 'building' muscle or matter. Catabolism is tearing it down. Glutamine is anti-catabolic. It prevents muscle breakdown and helps build more mass. Put simply "You don't have to go back before you go forward".

· 3. Glutamine helps recovery. Recovery is where muscle is built. More in a minute.

· 4. Glutamine suppresses cortisol- A major reason people can't gain. Cortisol is very CATABOLIC. People buy truck loads of cort-suppressants such as chrysin and PS. Why? Well it ain't to get small.

· 5. Glutamine restore glycogen and improves the nitrogen balance in the muscle. Two of the most important things for muscle growth.

· 6.My final point, although I could list more, Glutamine makes up over 60% of the free amino pool in you body, when levels get low there is no way you can gain. [Todd says in his article "so you should know that Glutamine will not aid in muscle growth." This is just not true.]"

It's true all right, and I already demonstrated why. Glutamine does all these things (nice list by the way) but won't because on a bulking diet IT DOES NOT GET ABSORBED. I thought I only had to repeat this for the rookies on the message boards, but apparently our very own writers need a little help in the understanding this part, as this one is especially slow on the uptake.

"If you really wanna suggest that I know nothing, have a go mate. Go on see what you can serve up and I will smash it back every time. It's all very well saying things but until you can back them up your mouth is better left shut."

I can back my stuff up, so smash away. But know this, if you can't back up your smash, your mouth is better left shut, capice?

"Tell me why ribose makes you gain muscle and why glutamine cannot, don't just say that. Ribose is great for helping to pump out those reps, but has no muscle building properties. I could say that being [EXPLETIVE] by a midget gives you 21" guns but there would be no proof your statements are similar. I'm on holidays now and have lots of free time so if you want an essay or such keep firing you unsubstantiated claim this way."

I took the liberty of answering those issues for you. If you want to send me an essay, by all means do. I'd like to see how the other midget can back up his crap.

"As you can probably see, all Todd's claims are unsubstantiated, but all the testosterone in his body has fired them up. Or is it HGH? I'm just not sure anymore. Essentially, Cal has shown how necessary glutamine is and how great ribose is, which appeared largely in most of my stacks."

Ummm, where exactly did he show how great ribose is? And do you still feel his claims are unsubstantiated?

"With reference to Methoxy, as Cal mentioned, it works for some people, one of those being myself and just because it doesn't work for Torns it doesn't mean it won't work for you."

Nor does the fact that it works for you mean it will work for anyone else. When torn between two choices I tend to opt for the one that has most scientific backing, in this case that's Todd's. Methoxy is crap, deal with it.

"It is relatively expensive, so if you don't want to take the risk, don't. With the letters, there are a lot of good points, if you blot out the contradictory comments and the bickering, they are generally agreeing with me. Also, Ephedrine is best used by people who are about to die and I would not suggest this for people willing to burn fat, as there are better ways to do it."

Actually ephedrine is a product with a dependency factor and a lot of risk. The only case in which I WOULD suggest its use is in losing weight, as using ephedrine for considerable amount of time as pre-workout booster can have serious side-effects and creates dependency. This is a serious warning, do not use ephedrine for durable amounts of time, or as a pre-workout booster. It is DANGEROUS. I would not recommend it to people under 16 either or people with blood pressure problems. Something all three people forgot to mention.

"Here are my main points again: · Glutamine should be in every serious body builder's cupboard, and it raises GH-levels, not T-levels.

Bull, it's a dieting, anti-catabolic tool.

"· Vanadyl drives more Creatine into the cells, like ALA. Both combine well with Creatine."

It's also toxic and expensive, your choice.

"· Trib is great, but at a young age, unnecessary."

Exactly, should only be used if you are an impotent old fart.

"Methoxy can be a powerful mass builder for some people."

In your head, maybe. Some people still believe in Santa too.

"- Ribose is great for helping to pump out those reps, but has no muscle building properties."

Wrong again, I sincerely suggest the three of you enroll in a course of Physiology 101 and study up before you EVER write about supplements again.

Now I'm aware of my offensive nature in this article, but damn, the three of you pissed me off with this bickering. We invented the peer review system to improve the quality of the site, not so you three can argue back and forth through it. If you have issues, go see a professional, but leave Bodybuilding.com out of this.

Thank you, look forward to your comments.