Q & A With Clayton South - Get Your Supplements Right!

Questions you want to know, answered by Clayton! CEE, Acetyl L-Carnitine, and more supplement questions answered here! Check it out!
Article Summary:
  • Choose products made at an accredited facility subjected to government inspection.
  • Methoxyisoflavone and Ecdysterone will not make you test positive for steroids.
  • Clinical studies done on animals should not be trusted to have the same effects in people.

  • [ Q ] I just got some creatine ethyl ester from a friend to try out. It's not a particular brand, but rather manufactured by a doctor my friend knows.

    I just wanted to ask:

    • Is it supposed to taste this bad?
    • It tastes like a chemical, is this the ethyl ester?
    • Is ethyl ester safe?

    I don't know how to explain the taste, but it tastes so bad that it doesn't feel like I should be putting it down my throat. I appreciate your feedback.


    [ A ] When I go to buy a product, I always consider the conditions under which the product was produced first. If, after looking the product over, it's clear to me, or if I have even a suspicion, that production conditions were less than pristine, I won't buy the product. Further to this point, I always exclude from my shopping list products that were made outside of an accredited facility subjected to government inspection. These two conditions are total deal-breakers for me and they should be for you too.

    You asked if CEE is supposed to taste bad, and yes it is supposed to taste bad if you're consuming it in raw powder form. The taste comes from the presence of the CEE alcohol. This passes intact through your bloodstream with CEE where it is broken down into regular creatine and ethyl alcohol, the alcohol component of which is thrown off as carbon dioxide gas through respiration.

    The taste to which you make reference is a result of the solvent used in formation of the product. While much has been made in the past about the taste, manufacturers have found it almost impossible to correctly flavor CEE powder and for this reason have all but totally resorted to capsule products to circumvent the taste problem.

    Have You Found A Good Tasting Creatine Ehtyl Ester Product?

    Yes I Have.
    Good? No. Tolerable? Yes.
    No There's No Such Thing.

    Finally, the issue of safety has in recent years, been made an issue by manufacturers of competing creatine products. The essential component of their claim was that CEE was unsafe because of the ethyl alcohol component of the CEE. They claimed that this would dissociate in the body and cause harm.

    As previously mentioned, CEE does eventually dissociate into regular creatine monohydrate and ethyl alcohol, but this is nothing to worry about. While it tastes, in bulk powder form, terribly unpleasant, this too is nothing to worry about, and for the same reason as the first: because the elimination of the ethyl alcohol is safe and, per serving, the ethyl alcohol component of CEE is well within daily established safe limits by USFDA.

    A single shot of whiskey from your bartender has hundreds of times more alcohol in it, and that consumption is still within your safe daily USFDA established limits.

    So here's the bottom line: it sounds to me like you have legitimate CEE. This, of course, says nothing about the production conditions under which it was made - only that you have, it appears, legitimate CEE. It is unknown if any excess reaction products remain as contaminants, so I advise you to choose a trusted CEE brand and try it instead. While you may end up getting a product of equal quality, my guess is that you'll get way better product by buying from a trusted source, and you'll save some cash too. And when that happens, tell your friend - and ditch the doc!

    A Single Shot Of Whiskey Contains Hundreds Of Times More Alchol Than Creatine Ethyl Ester.
    + Click To Enlarge.
    A Single Shot Of Whiskey Contains Hundreds
    Of Times More Alchol Than Creatine Ethyl Ester.

    [ Q ] I read your article in October 2008 Planet Muscle and would like to give "Time Specific Supplementation" a go. My question is can Arginine AKG be substituted for Arginine pyroglutamate? If so would the same dosages apply? The reason I ask is that the local supplement stores only sell the AKG version or straight L-Arginine.


    [ A ] In the article "Time Specific Supplementation" published in Planet Muscle, I outlined a methodology and protocol by which supplements are used according to their utility for altering physiological states like catabolism and anabolism. I described various time periods of the day, outlined specific physiological needs during these times and provided a list of supplements and dosages appropriate for each period.

    The morning period is the one to which you refer where I recommend Arginine pyroglutamate (800) mg along with Lysine monohydrochloride, l-glutamine and whey protein in specific amounts.

    Within this dosing protocol, arginine pyroglutamate was chosen because of its effects on growth hormone production during this period. Unfortunately, however, as your situation shows, there can be some difficulty getting this form of arginine compared to the more popular AKG form. The AKG form is acceptable, provided that it does not cause your stomach upset or gastric distress.

    As a first step, and to test tolerance, I suggest using AAKG first before other supplements, as this will help to establish its effects on your gastric system. Once you're confident you can handle it, you can increase the dose to the maximum and feel free to take your other supplements.

    Arginine products should generally be dosed first as they can impact stomach flora counts and pH. By dosing them first, you can establish which, if any, of your supplements is having adverse effects and tailor your dosing of each accordingly to within tolerable limits.

    The AKG Form Is Acceptable, Provided That It Doesn't Cause Your Stomach Upset Or Gastric Distress.
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    The AKG Form Is Acceptable, Provided That It
    Doesn't Cause Your Stomach Upset Or Gastric Distress.

    [ Q ] Hello Clayton, I would like to know if there is a big difference between L-carnitine and acetyl l carnitine. If I am wanting to burn more fat while I exercise and gain extra energy, which source is best? Also, which is better: capsule, liquid or powder form? Thank you for any help you can give.


    [ A ] When we speak of differences between chemicals, we speak of small differences in structure, but often speak of large differences in function and, within the context of the human body, large effects. In other words: small changes can produce dramatically different responses. Such is the nature of chemistry.

    L-carnitine is an amino acid that plays a key role in energy metabolism - the extraction of energy from food - and can be made endogenously from methionine and lysine. It exerts its effects primarily by taking long-chain fatty acids and shuttling them into your cellular mitochondria where they're oxidized - reacted with oxygen - to produce thermic energy.

    Many studies on L-carnitine exist, and while the experience of bodybuilders in gyms around the world testify to its utility and effects (especially during contest prep), the scientific community has so far documented its use medically for conditions like angina, heart failure and some other cardiac conditions while reserving judgment on its effects for athletic performance. This means, simply, that there is not enough hard data to substantiate its use in all cases.

    Acetyl-L-carnitine is, not surprisingly, similar in function in many respects to carnitine when it comes to energy metabolism and cardiovascular benefits. Where acetyl-L-carnitine differs, however, is in the acetyl group attached to the amino acid L-carnitine. The acetyl group attached plays a role in the production of acetylcholine (Ach).

    Acetylcholine is a key neurotransmitter that regulates your mood and also allows you to contract your muscles with sufficient force to endure a grueling workout. Without enough Ach your energy levels and workout intensity nose-dive exponentially.

    I'm not a doctor, and I don't give medical advice, but my evaluation of your situation suggests that acetyl-L-carnitine may be most appropriate. It appears to have effects on energy levels beyond that of L-carnitine. Please be responsible for your health and always check with a doctor before changing your health behavior.

    As for route of administration (capsule, liquid or powder), there is no scientific data available on the effectiveness of various routes of administration for this substance, so I'm not able to state that one route is better than another. To that end, I'd simply go with a tablet as it's what's widely available and seems to work for most people. It's a matter of preference.

    Go With A Tablet As It's What's Widely Available And Seems To Work.
    + Click To Enlarge.
    Go With A Tablet As It's What's
    Widely Available And Seems To Work.

    [ Q ] I'm an avid Bodybuilding.com reader, and I've read plenty of your articles. I think that you have a lot of knowledge in a lot of areas concerning the body and how it functions.

    I have major hyperhidrosis and was wondering if you could help me understand what I can do to regulate or get my sympathetic nervous system under control. Hyperhidrosis runs in the family from the male side only. Any help that you could offer would be greatly appreciated.

    Earl Davis

    [ A ] For the readers who may not know, hyperhidrosis is a condition where the body produces abnormal amounts of perspiration - sweat - either in specific parts of the body or generally. Essentially, the body sweats chronically. Sympathetic nervous system dysfunction is thought to underlie this condition.

    First, and as stated here and elsewhere, I am not a medical doctor. I do not - indeed, cannot - give medical advice as I am unqualified to do so. I therefore highly recommend that you go to your doctor for advice on how to manage a real medical condition that may be an indicator of other potentially serious conditions like congestive heart failure, tumor formation and more. But I know that you probably already know all of this. I just had to say it to protect myself legally.

    In terms of supplementation, I am not able to suggest any that might help. The reasons are two, and they are simple:

    1. I do not know the underlying cause of the condition and therefore have no idea if supplements would work.
    2. More to the point, I don't know if anything I might recommend would make your condition worse.

    Given that I have a responsibility to look out for your health, I cannot in good conscience recommend that you take something based on a hope or flimsy uncontrolled studies. Too often, simply taking something on a hope and a prayer does nothing but enrich the person doing the selling, while possibly exacerbating your condition and also producing side effects.

    I think it's irresponsible to consume supplements in the name of hope when dealing with serious underlying medical conditions. Medical conditions don't need hope - they need a doctor.

    What I can do responsibly, however, is highly recommend that you DO NOT take any fat burners, energy drinks or any other supplements containing stimulants like caffeine, synephrine and more. Also be sure to avoid consuming too much protein, as this can trigger sweating.

    The food choices you make are important as well. If you wish to minimize the sweating be sure to avoid spicy foods. Because diabetes may be related to this condition as well, be sure to keep your insulin levels low by avoiding simple carbohydrates in excess, as this may help keep hyperglycemic reactions to a minimum that can lead to perspiration.

    Other than that, I recommend strictly following the advice of your doctor.

    Try To Avoid Any Supplements Or Drinks Containing Stimulants Like Caffeine.
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    Try To Avoid Any Supplements Or Drinks
    Containing Stimulants Like Caffeine.

    [ Q ] I just read your article on Methoxyisoflavone and Ecdysterone. Since I'm an athlete and I'm often tested, may these products contain metabolites that can make me test positive?


    [ A ] While much initial excitement surrounded the potential effects of both methoxyisolfavone and ecdysterone as anabolic agents in humans, this initial excitement was, unfortunately, relatively short-lived and gave way to reality.

    The initial excitement surrounding these ingredients was, as is usually the case, based on animal studies dating back several decades. There was then, as now, limited clinical human data, and what human data does exist is somewhat questionable as it was conducted under less-than-transparent research conditions in Eastern block USSR countries during the Cold War.

    This research was conducted by the same scientists who were infamous for doping their Olympic athletes with secret anabolic drugs during the same time period and denying it, claiming that their athletes were all natural - natural, while outperforming and out-lifting known-steroid using American athletes by orders of magnitude during the same period.

    While our athletes were using the best chemical soups that Western pharmacology could conjure, the USSR was still beating the pants off of our guys, all while claiming to do it naturally with some Siberian ginseng and other relatively weak herbs. For these reasons, I'm skeptical of any Cold War Era research on the "anabolic activity" of these "natural" supplements in humans. It appears, for many years, that our definition of "natural" was slightly different from that of our Russian friends.

    This leaves us where we started: animal trials. Because the only reliable research to date has been on animals, we don't know for sure if or how these ingredients work in people, and we are certainly ignorant about potential side effects. To date, no double-blind, placebo controlled large-scale human clinical trials have performed to elucidate the mechanisms by which they operate or to evaluate the efficacy or safety of these ingredients in human subjects.

    We Don't Know If Or How These Ingredients Work In People.
    + Click To Enlarge.
    We Don't Know If Or How These
    Ingredients Work In People.

    It is certain that these ingredients on their own will not cause you to test positive for banned substances, provided that these ingredients are not banned and tested for by your regulating federation. In other words, methoxy and ecdy won't make your profile appear as if you were using steroids and they should not make you test positive for other substances, provided that you obtain and use a clean product that's free from contaminants. That's why it pays to buy from a good company with an established reputation - a company known for doing products and business well.

    To conclude, while there is interesting and suggestive anecdotal or case data that may hint at potential benefits in humans, the only data we have that's somewhat credible has been done on rats that, while similar in some respects to humans, are so fundamentally different in physiology that we cannot meaningfully generalize findings on rats to apply them to humans. If you think it's worth a shot, give these ingredients a try - and let the forums know of your progress so everyone can benefit from your individual trial.

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    The information provided in this publication is for educational and informational purposes only and does not serve as a replacement to care provided by your own personal health care team or physician. The author does not render or provide medical advice, and no individual should make any medical decisions or change their health behavior based on information provided here. Readers are encouraged to confirm the information contained herein with other sources. Readers and consumers should review the information in this publication carefully with their professional health care provider.

    The information in this or other publications authored by the writer is not intended to replace medical advice offered by physicians. Reliance on any information provided by the author is solely at your own risk. The author does not recommend or endorse any specific tests, products, medication, procedures, opinions, or other information that may be presented in the publication. The author does not control information, advertisements, content, and articles provided by discussed third-party information suppliers.

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