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Supplement Savvy: More Questions, MOHR Answers - 11-29-04!

This week I'm reporting on my findings on carbs and amino acids...

Fat Burners

"Acute effects of trans-10,cis-12 conjugated linoleic acid consumption on fuel use."

CLA has grown in popularity over the last few years as a weight loss agent. The question is: does it work? Researchers in this study assessed whether supplementing with either 4.8g CLA or placebo affected RMR and fuel use in humans (a lot of the CLA studies to date have been performed in animals). Unfortunately CLA came up short in this study. The researchers found no significant differences in RMR between subjects taking CLA and those supplementing with placebo. They also found no significant effect of CLA on indicators of lipolysis (fat burning).

Next, researches presented "The effects of acute citrus aurantium (CA) ingestion on energy expenditure in mildly obese subjects." CA is becoming more prevalent in weight loss supplements due to the recent banning of ephedra. CA is also known as synephrine and appears to have a lesser stimulatory effect on the cardiovascular system than ephedrine, sometimes referred to as its chemical cousin. 23 male and female overweight subjects were given either CA or placebo to assess its effects on caloric expenditure, heart rate, blood pressure, respiratory exchange ratio and RMR.

From this study, it appears that CA ingestion resulted in an increased RMR, while not affecting any of the aforementioned cardiovascular parameters. This is good news for ephedra users because while ephedra increases metabolic rate, it can also cause an increase in the heart rate and blood pressure, which could be dangerous.

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EGCG research is in its infancy, but the research that's out there is promising. It appears that EGCG may inhibit the lipolytic enzyme, lipase, and has shown signs of decreasing appetite. More research is clearly necessary, because at this time a majority of the research has been conducted on rats; however, that which has been done on humans has shown benefits such as a 4% increase in metabolic rate.

While this may not seem like much, Doug was quick to point out that over a year, this small increase can translate into a 15 lb fat loss. Oh yeah, and drinking green tea won't be of much benefit in this regard because you would need 100's of cups to provide the same potent dose of EGCG. However, the tea is still useful as an antioxidant, so it is recommended.

Importance of Carbohydrates

We all know that protein is a crucial nutrient for growth and recovery, but athletes often forget about the importance of carbohydrates. Research has demonstrated the benefits of using a carbohydrate supplement during a workout. Keep in mind that most work is with endurance athletes, but if you're active with endurance exercise trying to get cut up and lean, supplementing with carbohydrate may help you perform better and harder.

Even more interesting is the glycemic index (GI) and glycemic load (GL) of certain carbohydrates. If you haven't heard of the glycemic index by now, move out of the cave you live in and put down your pterodactyl phone, Mr. Fred Flinstone. The GI is a measure of how fast a particular carbohydrate is taken up in the blood. For example, a piece of plain white bread has a GI of 100, meaning it is taken up by the body very rapid (white bread is used as the benchmark and is highest on this scale). Now, what's more interesting and essentially more useful is glycemic load.

The Glycemic Index (GI) is...
It's simply a measure of how fast a particular carbohydrate is taken up in the blood.

The glycemic load doesn't tell how fast a food is taken up by the body, by rather how quickly the food appears in the blood as glucose. Certain foods actually can have low GI's, but high GL's. A perfect example of this is All Bran. All Bran is thought to have a relatively low GI because it is high in fiber; fiber, like fat and protein, slows the rate of digestion and ultimately the GI. However, All Bran has a very high GL because it causes a very rapid insulin response, opening the "flood gates," so to speak and causing a rapid clearance of glucose from the blood. Make sense?

The point is, carbohydrates that are highly regarded as low glycemic index foods may not be as good as you thought. The message remains the same; if it comes from a box, bag or other package, leave it on the grocery store shelves.

Amino Acid Review

BCAA'S: The Building Blocks Of Muscle!
Branched Chain Amino Acids are among the most beneficial and effective supplements in any sports nutrition program.

Amino acids are the building blocks of dietary protein. However, some new research is emerging that supplementing with the branch chain amino acids (BCAA [valine, leucine, and isoleucine]), may have specific properties that are beneficial for athletes. Some recent research out of Texas and other well-respected labs shows that supplementing with approximately 6 grams of BCAA pre-, during and post workout could be useful.

We all knew that post-workout protein was essential, but sipping on a drink with some BCAA's during a workout is pretty new and the research seems positive. While you're in the gym sweating, grunting and kicking the crap out of your body, it shouldn't come as a surprise to learn that it begins to break down muscle tissue and go into negative nitrogen balance.

It's really a double edge sword; pushing yourself in the gym is essential, but in return your body responds by breaking down muscle tissue. If it's not refed and provided with the necessary nutrients, you'll never gain the size you're trying to.

What we're learning is that taking 6 g of BCAA may before and during a workout may ameliorate this negative aspect of training and keep you on the path to super growth. Mixing about 20 grams of protein to sip during a workout can accomplish the necessary task of providing your body the necessary nutrients.

This sums up some recent research presented at this conference. Stay tuned, for more cutting edge information as it develops.