Supplement Savvy: More Questions, MOHR Answers - 6-21-04!

In this article I cover studies about different supplements and their effects on exercise performance, and compare the differences of single versus triple set resistance training programs.


Exercise Performance Studies

Effects Of Oral ATP Supplementation On Aerobic Power
MSSE Abstract #1158

ATP or adenosine triphosphate is a necessary component for energy production. However, ATP is produced within the body; therefore, this group of scientists set out to determine if 4 days of oral ATP could effect aerobic and muscular strength performance.

27 healthy males were supplemented with either 150 or 225 mg of ATP or placebo. Blood concentrations of ATP, muscular strength and time to exhaustion on a cycle test were all measured. Statistical analyses showed no differences between or within groups for whole blood ATP or plasma ATP concentrations in any group.

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There were also no significant differences in muscular strength or time to exhaustion among subjects.
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There were some noted differences in muscular strength, but the authors noted that these were due to outliers (subjects who had a much different reaction than the others, thereby "pulling" the data in a certain direction).


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The Placebo Effect On Exercise Performance
MSSE Abstract #1160

The effect of placebo-supplements is well documented, meaning those who consume a supplement, even if it has no active ingredient, often perform better than those who don't. This study measured that exact theory.

Experience runners watched a video on a specific "new" ergogenic aid that is suspended in water. Some subjects were given regular water, others were given water fortified with the "new" dietary ingredient (remember, it actually did not have anything in it; this was to measure the placebo effect).

A 5 km time trial was then conducted to determine the effects.

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Those drinking the placebo water did not have statistically significant differences in their run times, but did have what the authors called "competitively meaningful" differences (2.5 seconds).
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Remember, in a short race like this, every second matters.

Effects Of A Cordyceps Sensis And Rhodiol Rosea Based Formula On Exercise Performance In Cyclists
MSSE Abstract #1162

This study was to measure the effects of a fairly new dietary supplement that's purported to increase endurance. Subjects participated in two cycling tests in a randomized, placebo controlled, double blind fashion.

Subjects received 1000 mg of Cordyceps sinensis and 300 mg Rhodiola rosea root extract. The supplement also provided 800 mg of calcium pyruvate, sodium phosphate, potassium phosphate, ribose, adenosine, and 200 mcg of chromium.

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There were no statistically significant differences among any of the subjects.
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Therefore, the researchers concluded that 2-week ingestion of a product containing the aforementioned ingredients yielded no performance benefits.


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Effects Of D-Ribose Supplementation On Anaerobic Exercise Performance
MSSE Abstract #1163

The purpose of this study was to measure the effect of D-ribose on anaerobic performance in athletic males. Subjects initially performed a Wingate power test (anaerobic cycling test) to measure peak power, fatigue index, and lactate levels.

Subjects were then randomly assigned to either 6 g/day of ribose or placebo and again completed the same Wingate power test. There were no statistically significant differences in the outcomes measured.

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Therefore, the researchers concluded that ribose does not positively enhance anaerobic performance.
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Effect Of Whey Of Casein Supplement On Nitrogen Balance During Energy Restriction In Athletes
MSSE Abstract #1164

During weight loss, it's impossible to totally preserve lean body mass and only lose fat. It is of course preferable, though, so trying to find that delicate balance between weight loss and lean mass preservation is crucial.

Therefore, the researchers in this study set out to compare the effects of whey and casein supplements on fasting and post-meal plasma amino acids, nitrogen balance, all during energy restriction. Subjects received either 40 g of whey protein or 40 g of casein protein per day and were on an energy restrictive diet.

Neither acute nor chronic consumption of whey or casein resulted in s significant different nitrogen balance meaning neither preserved lean body mass better than the other. The reason one may believe they do is because of their different amino acid composition.


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Strength And Power Training

Strength And Body Composition: Single Vs. Triple Set Resistance Training Programs
MSSE Abstract #0394

If you've followed this magazine and any other strength related materials for any length of time, you should be well aware that there are an infinite number of training programs available that work. There is also a controversy as to how many sets to perform.

The late Mike Mentzer was a proponent of one set to failure, while others promote many more sets. Most commonly recommended is three sets and therefore the purpose of this study was to determine the effects of increasing the volume of weight-training from one to three sets on muscular strength performances and body composition characteristics in males weight lifters.

Strength performance and body fat were measured in subjects performing either one set or three sets of 6 repetitions over an eight-week period. Both training groups improved significantly in terms of muscular strength and the one-set group produced significantly greater decreases in body fat.

I would infer that a combination of both training regimens is useful and what's most important is that your program never remains consistent for a long-period of time; it's always best to keep the body guessing and switch up your exercises, sets, and/or both fairly regularly.

Time to recap:

  1. Oral ATP supplementation is ineffective on the parameters measured.
  2. Taking something that is believed to contain a supplement, but really has no active ingredients (placebo) has some effect on performance meaning the "performance boost" may be more psychological than physiological.
  3. A product containing Cordyceps sensis and Rhodiol rosea is ineffective for cycling performance.
  4. D-ribose supplementation, in the doses provided, has no effect on anaerobic performance.
  5. Neither whey or casein protein effectively spared nitrogen losses during weight loss.
  6. A combination of strength training regimes is important, rather than solely using one specific training protocol. Always keep the body guessing.