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Supplement Savvy: More Questions, MOHR Answers - 6-03-06!

Get the answers to some of the most commonly asked questions. Today we have some answers for getting abs to show, clearing casein protein, and supplement overkill. Learn more right here!

[ Q ] I am a very fit, young 20-year-old. I am about 5'10", 190 pounds. I have nice arms, excellent pecs and shoulders. The one area I am not happy about, however, is my abs. I have been training for about 2 years and I now want some results in my midsection. I am thinking about taking a fat burner in conjunction with increased cardio.

I want to know if I can also continue taking my protein supplement and my creatine supplement in conjunction with adding a fat burner to my supplement plan. Thank you.

    A: Believe me when I tell you you're not the first who has asked this. And, of course, it's beach time, so everyone wants their abs to be showing. This is a very common problem area for men; most men carry their weight around their stomachs, while women do so in their hips and thighs.

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    Of course this isn't always the case, but is true more often than not. As a general guideline, most folks won't start showing abs until their bodyfat gets down below 10%. This means that you have to make sure both your diet and training are in order. You asked about a fatloss supplement, but I want you, of course, to make sure your diet is in order first; no supplement is going to be a quick fix.

    As a rule of thumb, remember to always "think fiber, not carbs" meaning focus on whole grains, loads of vegetables and fruits. Don't forget to make sure you have some lean protein with each meal and, of course, healthy fats, such as mixed nuts, fish oil, flax oil, and avocado should all be staples.

    When training for fat loss, I prefer using whole body, multi-joint exercises, such as squats, deadlifts, chin-ups, pullups, pushups, rows, etc. and keep rest to a minimum. I also always recommend recording what you're doing; if you don't write it down, there's no way to know what's working and what is not. So monitor your diet and your training through a simple notebook that allows you to record all this information.

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    Once the diet and training are in order, your abs will start to show and, in fact, your shoulders and pecs, which you say are "excellent" will also look even bigger, as you get leaner. As for fat loss supplements - I like green tea, a lot. Even more than the supplement itself, I always recommend folks drink green and black tea for their health benefits as well - the potential to enhance fat loss may just be an added benefit!

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    And, yes, mixing those supplements you mentioned isn't an issue at all. In fact, mixing creatine with protein and carbs as a post-workout drink is a great idea.

[ Q ] I am a personal trainer and have clients at LA Fitness who are obese. I am trying to guide them into a better eating plan and exercise routine. I try and give them a certain amount of calories to burn body fat and build muscle. In addition, I also suggest some nighttime protein such as cottage cheese to avoid eating away at muscle over night.

Another nutrition professional tells me, however, that casein is the worst protein available and that someone looking to build muscle doesn't need the night-time protein; however, the same person stated that it is best in the muscle-building process, and to eat it prior to bedtime. I am very confused!

    A: It's not surprising to hear conflicting information; you can read the thousands of articles on this very site and hear different opinions and thoughts from the writers. And this is why it's important to keep an open mind and also make sure you understand the science behind real research versus opinions.

    Just because something may have worked for one person, doesn't necessarily mean it will for you; never take everything that's written without questioning what is being said and what's logical. I've read some things in popular magazines or online that make my head spin; being in print (or online) doesn't necessarily mean it's true!

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    With that said, the person you spoke with is incorrect in saying that casein is the worst protein available. Remember that cottage cheese is very high in casein, as is milk and some other whole foods. Does this mean the protein from these sources is useless? No.

    Casein offers a variety of health benefits; not only is it a high quality protein, but it's also loaded with things call immunoglobins and other components that may have some added benefits for the body.

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    Looking at it solely as a protein, it is also absorbed more slowly than whey protein, which is why folks often recommend it as a night time. Studies have shown that it can take as long as 8 hours to fully digest, which is great: a slow bolus of amino acids for those hungry muscles.

What Does Bolus Mean?
A single, relatively large quantity of a substance, such as a dose of a drug, intended for therapeutic use and taken orally.

    With regard to your particular client, I wouldn't worry too much about the nighttime feeding for preserving muscle with them; they are obese and trying to lose weight, so focus more on the overall goals: quality of the diet and having a negative energy balance (energy in is less than energy out).

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    This person does need to be concerned about lean body tissue, but not so much that they're supplementing at night since this may give them reason to snack more than necessary and boost up those calories. You need to focus on priorities - and if they are obese, losing fat is the first priority.

[ Q ] I have a few questions regarding supplements. I have read hundreds of articles on and still I'm confused with the different perspectives and opinions of a few writers, so I would like your help to find a straight answer, since I sincerely think you are one of the few who go straight to the point and cuts the B.S., so, here goes... The products I use are:

I think I'm covering all the bases with all those bottles and cans.
Am I?

    A: Well, first of all, good thing you're at least shopping with to save some money on those supplements! You have a lot of overlap with the products you're taking; why do you need 3 different creatines, for example? And why 2 different brands of multivitamins, fat burners, etc.?

    I think you're taking a little information from each article you read and trying to apply it to yourself and your needs. First focus on food and get your diet in order. Second, make sure your training is superb. Third, consider what your ultimate goals are with training, both aesthetically and health-wise, and then determine which supplements suit those needs.

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    Remember, if you're living off crap and taking a fat loss supplement to enhance your fat loss, you're going about it all wrong. Similarly, if you don't eat enough, but are trying to gain muscle, creatine won't solve all your needs. There are over 29,000 dietary supplements available; that doesn't mean that every person needs each of those. Good luck!