Supplement Savvy: More Questions, MOHR Answers - 9-04-06!

Get the answers to some of the most commonly asked questions. Today we have some answers about taking tribex as a teenager, possible overtraining, and about showing the abs. Learn more here!

[ Q ] I'm 16 years old and I was thinking about taking Tribex, the natural testosterone booster. I have been eating clean and training right, but I'm stuck right now and not gaining anything. Plus my football coach is letting me back on the team and I want something to give me an extra push.

Do you think it would be safe for me to take and is there any bad side effects to me taking it at 16 y/o, such as stunting my growth.

    A: Thanks for the email. I feel like a broken record, but before trying any Tribex or other supplement, let's take a look to see if your diet is in order. At 16 years old, you can pack on muscle fairly easily; you have enough hormones raging through your body that you'll naturally far exceed what any supplement might be able to do.

    Using this checklist, let's see how you stack up.

    1. Are You Eating Breakfast Every Single Day?

      Think that sounds silly---and supplements are much more important than this meal? Think again. Breakfast is going to give you energy that far surpasses any supplement or other meals.

      Remember, you haven't eaten in 6 or hopefully more hours; your body is starving for fuel. Make time for this every day or don't even think about performing well on the field or in the classroom.

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    1. Are You Eating More Than 3 Times Per Day?

      Again, this is crucial. You're trying to pack on size and strength. You're also under the demands of sitting in a classroom(s) for most of the day, going immediately to practice after school until probably 6 or so in the evening, going home, doing homework and going to bed before doing it all over again.

      There's a lot going on in your life and you need to fuel your body properly. Pack snacks to have throughout the day-granola bars, yogurts, protein bars, milk, mixed nuts, etc all work wonders as snack foods-don't leave home without them.

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    1. Are You Fueling Your Body Before Your Workout?

      I played football in high school. I also had lunch at 10 AM each day. That meant, if I didn't eat anything after lunch, I would be going from 10 AM until 6 PM without anything and trying to go through a 3.5 hour practice. Think my performance would have suffered? Absolutely.

      Again, those same snacks I mentioned in question two would be fantastic and help fuel your performance. If you aren't practicing as hard as you can, you won't be able to perform well on game day either. The proper fuel will help get you there.

    2. Are You Drinking Something Other Than Water During Practice?

      Don't get me wrong, water is crucial. During these long practices, where you're often losing a lot of water weight through sweat, you need to replenish what your body is losing.

      Gatorade is great alone. The key is that you need this product to provide the right % of carbohydrates so it doesn't sit in your stomach; that wouldn't feel so good as you're trying to knock over the guy on the opposing team. Gatorade is just that. There are other good products on the market too, such as Accelerade, Endurox, Revenge, and others.

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    3. Do You Refuel As Soon As Possible After Practice?

      Remember, your muscles are like a sponge at this time; take advantage and feed them what they need, which is carbohydrates and protein. The same products I mentioned above are great (Accelerade, Endurox, Revenge) along with basic old low-fat chocolate milk.

    4. Do You Ever Let Yourself Get Hungry?

      Remember, you're trying to pack on mass. You should never go hungry during the day. In fact, just when you think you ate enough, you should eat some more. Of course this should all be done within reason and you need to make sure you're fueling your body with the proper foods and being honest with yourself that you're gaining lean body mass and not merely adding pounds of fat on your body.

    5. Are You Eating Enough Whole Grains?

      Folks often only consider protein when trying to build muscle, when in reality, whole grains are what are going to give you the most energy. Carbohydrates are not the enemy-low quality carbohydrates can be. As I've said before, it's always important to "Think fiber, not carbs." High fiber cereals, bread, pasta, etc will do much more for you than sweets, candy, pastries, etc.

    6. Do You Make Sure You Get In Enough Lean Protein Each Day?

      This is typically not an issue with most folks, but it's always good to cover. Each meal of the day should have some protein. The general rule of thumb is to shoot for 1 g of protein/lb of body weight.


      The simplest way to do this is to divide the number of meals you'll be eating each day by your body weight (e.g., if you weigh 180 and you'll eat 6 meals, that would be around 30 grams protein/meal). It doesn't have to be exact, but should be pretty close each time you eat.

    1. Is Most Of The Fat You Consume Healthy Fats, Such As Flax Oil/Seed, Egg Yolks, Fish Oil, Avocado, Mixed Nuts, Etc?

      Fat gives you a lot of bang for your buck meaning you don't need a lot to get a lot of calories (remember, each 1 gram of fat provides 9 calories/gram compared with carbohydrate and protein, which both provide 4 calories/gram).

      Don't shy away from whole eggs in your omelets, throwing some avocado on a sandwich or salad, having a handful of mixed nuts with your meal, using flax oil in your shakes or flax seed on your cereal. All of these are healthy ways to add some calories to your day and help you pack on muscle and strength.

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    2. Are You Following A Sound Training Regimen?

      Remember, it's not the hours you put into the gym, but what you put in those hours. Don't worry about concentration curls, cable crossovers, and lying leg extensions. Instead, focus on multi-joint movements, such as squats, deadlifts, chins, pull ups, bench, dips, etc. These are the types of movements that will help pack on some size and make you a better football player.

    Now, with all that said - if that list of 10 items is sufficient and you can't make any other changes, you can try a supplement (ONE AT A TIME-so you know what's working or what's not). Tribex has one supportive research study, but it was done on a very small sample of individuals, so I think there are more important products out there that are important. Again, first get that diet and training in order.

[ Q ] Dear Christopher, I am a 30 yr old male from India who started exercising months ago. I would be very grateful if I can get some guidance from you on nutrition. I feel very tired and have no energy. I work 6 days/week and using compound exercises during training.

I really could not understand sudden reason for weakness; either I'm working more than required or else my diet is not complimenting the requirement. I have started taking 100% whey gold standard supplement to fill in the required nutrition.

Kindly provide advice.

    A: Congratulations on starting an exercise program. It's hard for me to pinpoint exactly what's going on without knowing more about you and your current training and nutrition plan. I'll make some simple suggestions, however, and hopefully they can steer you in the right direction.

    Very simply with the little information I have, it wouldn't surprise me to hear you're overtraining and under fueling your body. If you're working 6 days/week, training using compound exercises (not sure how often or how long you're spending doing these), potentially not resting enough or fueling enough, weakness and lack of energy are common. Fatigue and weakness are often side effects of overtraining.

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    What does this all mean? I'd take a look at some solid training programs that are available; I really like the book by Lou Schuler and Alwyn Cosgrove, called the New Rules of Lifting: Six Basic Moves for Maximum Muscle. It's loaded with solid information by those in the know, who have trained and written about training for years. Check it out.

    As for your nutrition, I'm fine with you taking the product you mentioned. I'd actually encourage you to try a high quality meal replacement powder as well to add to your plan; it will give you more calories than a plain old protein supplement, meaning more nutrients too.

    Add some flax oil to this, frozen fruit, and you have a pretty complete, convenient meal. I know many folks of Indian descent are also vegetarians. You didn't mention this to me, but I'll assume you may be too. That's fine and it is perfectly reasonable to consume enough calories, protein, and nutrients if you're eating enough.

    In fact, some of the early bodybuilders, such as Bill Pearl and Jack LaLanne were and still are both vegetarians. Make sure you're still varying your protein intake; beans, rice, eggs, grains, etc can all be great protein sources, just make sure you're changing them up all the time and eating enough, so you get all the essential amino acids to help your body recover and grow.

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    Finally, let's talk a bit about sleep. Seems like a boring topic, but sleep is crucial for building and repair. Growth hormone surges during sleep and this is actually when your body grows; you break down the muscles in the gym and repair and build during rest.

    Hope this gets you started on the right foot. Again, it's difficult for me to make specific suggestions without knowing much about you. Good luck!

[ Q ] My name is Jonathan and my weight is 170lbs with 16% body fat. Well, my goal is to be 180lbs with 8% body fat. Can you give me any advice with my diet to reach that goal? Currently I'm just using 1700 calories with 6 meals each day. I lift weights 4 times a week and walking for 60 minutes everyday.

I'm confused whether I should lose weight to see my six pack and then bulk or bulk first and lose the fat after. Is there any way or diet plan that works for building muscle and lose the fat that currently I have? Thank you.

    A: Your question is definitely not unique. I get dozens of emails on a regular basis and this type of question probably makes up about 80% of those I receive.

    Gaining muscle and losing fat simultaneously isn't physiologically possible because one requires you to eat less calories and one, more. However, as you're making changes within your training protocol and diet, you can in fact maintain strength and size with the right exercise, while losing body fat. You definitely have to train very hard; none of this going through the motions crap that I see folks doing all the time in the gym.

    Aside from knowing your total calories, I also need to know your macronutrient makeup of the diet. Are 1690 of those calories from junk or are they solid, nutrient dense meals?

    Here's what I would do. First, make sure when you lift, you're using compound exercises. I've said this repeatedly, but it's worth saying again. You're trying to build size and strength, so stay away from the split body routines, biceps curls, lateral raises, etc. Stick with exercises that actually build size - squats, deadlifts, pull ups, chin ups, pushups (with a weighted vest if necessary), rows, lunges, etc. And go hard or go home. Make every second in the gym a quality second and don't waste time shooting the breeze. Concentrate.

    Second, stop the walking and start doing some high intensity activities. How about sprints? Bleachers? Running hills? Try these activities to really turn your body into a metabolic furnace and build some muscle while shedding a lot of calories.

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    Make sure your carbs are made up primarily of all different veggies, fruits, and some whole grains, with a post-workout shake to assist in the recovery process. In addition, each meal should have some lean protein and healthy fat. Don't shy away from these nutrients, particularly the healthy fat, as many folks do when trying to lose weight. Enjoy your egg yolks, flax oil, fish oil, olive oil, etc within reason, of course.

    Here's how I would break down your training. The four days/week you're currently doing is fine. Focus on compound movements, as I said, and do them with no more than 60 seconds rest between sets. You want to engage as much muscle as possible during the time you spend in the gym. For example, do a set of squats, rest 30-60 seconds, and then a set of chin ups, 30-60 seconds rest, and a follow with a set of pushups. Repeat 2 more times.

    Then move to walking lunges supersetted with barbell rows and dips. Repeat that trio 2 more times. This should be enough for a day - go home and rest.

    Next time do exercises that hit similar body parts, but not the same exact exercises. Instead of barbell rows, try dumbbell rows or dead lifts, for example. Smart training and nutrition equals optimal results. Good luck!