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Supplement Savvy: More Questions, MOHR Answers - 8-09-04!

In this article I cover studies about different supplements and their effects on exercise performance, and compare the nutrient oxidative effects of resistance and aerobic exercise.

All too often, athletes receive their nutrition information from unreliable sources. Whether it's an advertisement from a supplement company or misinformed friends, the amount of unproven information on nutrition for athletes far exceeds the amount of good scientific research on the topic.

This is especially true when it comes to nutritional supplements. For athletic trainers and strength and conditioning coaches, it can be difficult to give athletes the right direction when the research on supplements is all very new. But some good research has been done.

Resistance And Aerobic Exercise Have Similar Effects On 24-h Nutrient Oxidation
Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 34(11), 1793-1800, 2002
Edward L. Melanson, Teresa A. Sharp, Helen M. Seagle, William T. Donahoo, Gary K. Grunwald, John C. Peters, Jere T. Hamilton, and James O. Hill

Athletes often wonder whether cardiovascular exercise or resistance training is better for weight loss; however, much of the discussions are based on anecdotal evidence rather than actual research. Therefore, the primary aim of this study was to compare the effects of aerobic vs. anaerobic training on energy expenditure (EE) and substrate oxidation.

This study measured energy expenditure in 10 non-obese male subjects on four separate occasions using different exercise protocols [aerobic (bike) or anaerobic (circuit training) exercise]. Subjects expended similar amounts of energy for both types of exercise with no significant differences between exercise conditions.

Both exercise regimens had similar effects on substrate oxidation. There were no differences in fat oxidation over 24 hours, but there was an increase in the amount of carbohydrates oxidized during aerobic exercise.

If an athlete's goal is weight loss, aerobic exercise should be the cornerstone of their regimen.

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Creatine Corner

To date, there are over 700 researchers studies that have been conducted on creatine. However, confusion, misinformation, and rumors about creatine use still exist.

Creatine Supplementation Influences Substrate Utilization At Rest
Journal of Applied Physiology, 93, 2018-2022, 2002
M. Erik Huso, Jeffrey S. Hampl, Carol S. Johnston

Scientific and anecdotal evidence have demonstrated creatine supplementation is beneficial for short-duration, high intensity exercise such as weightlifting and sprinting in most individuals.

However, while the strength gains that often accompany creatine supplementation may be beneficial for many athletes, subsequent weight gain may not; particularly for those athletes in weight-sensitive sports (e.g., wresters, lightweight rowers, etc.) or sports where physical appearance play a large role in the competition (e.g., gymnasts).

One method researchers use to determine substrate utilization (i.e., what food the body is metabolizing: carbohydrates, proteins, or fats) is the measurement of the respiratory exchange ratio (RER). Values typically range from 0.70 to 1.00.

The higher the value, the more carbohydrates that are being metabolized; on the contrary, a lower value means fat is the primary fuel.

With that said, the purpose of this 12-week, double-blind, placebo controlled weight-training trial was to determine how creatine supplementation affects substrate utilization to see if it results in more carbohydrates or more fat being "burned" for energy.

All subjects participated in a pre-determined strength training program throughout the study. In addition, the same meals were consumed 12-hours prior to RER testing to reduce potential confounders and no other food was consumed until post-measurement.

The researchers found that carbohydrate oxidation increased during creatine supplementation (there was a trend for an increase in RER). In addition, while fat mass did not change with creatine supplementation, it did decrease significantly in those taking the placebo supplementation.

The important take home message is that these results demonstrate individuals who supplement with creatine may decrease their ability to lose fat after exercise training, potentially due to the RER increase (again, which means decreased fat metabolism).

According to the results from this study only, those attempting to reduce body fat may want to steer away from supplementing with creatine as it may work against them in that regard; however, more research is necessary as this was the first study of its kind.

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The Effect Of ß-hydroxy ß-methylbutyrate On Muscular Strength And Body Composition In Collegiate Football Players
Journal of Strength and Conditioning, 17(1), 34-39, 2003
Jack Ransone, Kerri Neighbors, Robert Lefavi, and Joseph Chromiak

ß-hydroxy ß-methylbutyrate (HMB) supplementation is purported to enhance lean-body mass gains during resistance training and stimulate fat-oxidation. Therefore, this study was designed to measure the effects of HMB on muscular strength and body composition.

Subjects were NCAA Division I collegiate football players, with at least 4 years of strength-training experience. They were supplemented with either 3 g HMB (manufacturer recommended dose) or placebo during a 9-week exercise program (averaging 4-5 days/week for approximately 20 hours/week), under the supervision of a strength coach.

After the double-blind, placebo controlled supplementation protocol (4-weeks of HMB supplementation, followed by a washout period with no supplement and then 4-weeks of taking placebo), there were no significant differences for muscular strength (measured by bench press, power cleans, and squats) or for body composition, body fat, or weight.

There were no significant differences for muscular strength or for body composition, body fat, or weight.

Some research has suggested HMB may be beneficial in an untrained population initiating an exercise program; however, the take home message with this study is that HMB supplementation doesn't seem to be beneficial for enhancing muscular strength, decreasing body fat, or positively altering body composition in a previously trained athletic population.

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The Effect Of Bovine Colostrum Supplementation On Exercise Performance In Elite Field Hockey Players
International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 12(4), 461-469, 2002
Zandrie Hofman, Rolf Smeets, George Verlaan, Richard v.d. Lugt, and Peter A. Verstappen

Bovine Colostrum is the first milk secretion (often known as "pre-milk") from the mammary glands of many mammals, including cows and humans. The concentrations of protein, immunoglobulins, insulin like growth factors and many vitamins and minerals are higher in colostrum than those from normal milk.

Animal studies using colostrum have demonstrated an increase in protein synthesis, which may correlate to increases in lean body mass and subsequently, enhanced performance.

Thirty five elite male and female field hockey players participated in this 8-week study, to determine the effects of 60 g of bovine colostrum supplementation, compared to 60 g of whey protein, on body composition (skinfold measurement) and exercise performance (sprint test, suicide test [subject had to run as fast as possible between 6 markers; total distance was 300m], shuttle run test, and vertical jump).

After the 8-week protocol, there was a significant improvement for both groups in the sprint test only (reduction in sprint time from baseline to week 8), with a significant difference between the two groups as well (i.e., both groups improved their time, but the colostrum supplemented group improved significantly more than the whey supplemented group). There were no significant changes in any other aforementioned outcome assessments between groups.

Lean body mass significantly improved in both groups, with no differences between groups. This is not surprising, since both supplements provided just under 400 kcal of additional energy to their normal diets, which could correlate to an increase in lean body mass.

The take home message here is the results from this study alone do not warrant supplementing with bovine colostrum. In addition, bovine colostrum comes with an extremely hefty price tag (approximately $12/day for 60 g dose) and the only significant improvement found in this study was a decrease in 50 meter sprint time.

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In the year 2000, sales of dietary supplements reached 16.8 billion dollars. It is impossible for research to keep up with the plethora of products available; fortunately, those products that don't live up to their hype fall off the market.

Over time, products which seem to have some efficacy for various populations are investigated to determine if they are safe and beneficial and can only hope to someday make it to the pages of Research Roundup.