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If you read the Triple Thread Nutrition Overview, you know that a varied, balanced program like this can be geared to specific goals. It can be the most fun fat-loss program you've ever tried, or a first-class muscle builder. The difference lies in how you approach your nutrition.
The same can be said for supplementation. A few strategic choices can reinforce the message your body is receiving, to shed fat like crazy or add muscle. There's nothing weird or excessive here! Here are two simple, science-backed stacks to back your goals during Triple Threat.
Triple Threat Fat-Loss Stack
Staple 1: Fat burner
Fat burners are a great addition to any fat-loss plan, because they can give you an extra boost to help get rid of unwanted fat. They won't take the place of a consistent diet and workout program, but they can definitely enhance your results. Here are some of the ingredients that define the most effective ones.
Caffeine: Caffeine does a lot more than just give you a buzz of energy in the morning. While it is a powerful stimulant that can help energize your workouts, it also can help you drop fat by increasing your body's ability to use stored fat as energy during exercise. Multiple studies have shown that supplements containing caffeine can increase the rate of lipolysis (the breakdown of fat), while also making hard workouts seem a little easier.[1,2] It's also been shown to increase daily energy expenditure by an average of 150 calories.
Green Tea Extract (EGCG): If the fat-burning power of caffeine isn't enough to impress you, combine it with EGCG, the primary active ingredient in green tea that can help boost your metabolic rate. Taken together, the combination of EGCG and caffeine may be more beneficial than caffeine alone when it comes to fat loss and increased energy.[5,6]
Cayenne Pepper: You may recognize this ingredient as a spicy pepper that gives your favorite foods an extra kick, but it also can increase the number of calories your body burns, in large part because of its ability to increase epinephrine levels. Capsaicin, the active ingredient in the plant, has been shown to increase calorie expenditure following a meal. Similar to green tea extract, capsaicin and caffeine appear to be even more effective when taken together, helping you burn more calories both during and after exercise.
Staple 2: BCAAs
Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) are made up of three essential amino acids: leucine, isoleucine, and valine. BCAAs are a solid choice for anyone with muscle-building or muscle-maintaining goals. You may be ready to say goodbye to a few pounds of fat, but that doesn't mean you have to sacrifice your muscle as well!
Sipping on BCAAs before and during your workout can help you hold on to your muscle mass while dieting down. Plus, they can help reduce markers of muscle damage and lessen the symptoms of delayed-onset muscle soreness, helping you recover from your workouts faster.
Staple 3: Pre-workout
When you're low-carb, low-fat, or just low-cal, dieting can leave you feeling devoid of energy and lacking focus during your workouts. This is where a good pre-workout can save the day.
Part of this is due to its caffeine content, of course. Not only can caffeine have a positive effect on energy metabolism, weight loss, and body fat, it has also been shown to improve performance by decreasing the rate of fatigue and lowering perception of effort. Caffeine is also useful to increase mental alertness and concentration. But there are plenty of other ingredients boosting today's best pre-workouts.
Nootropics: Nootropics are cognitive enhancers known for their positive effects on mental performance. Ingredients like choline bitartrate, alpha-glyceryl phosphoryl choline, creatine, and yes, caffeine, have been shown to improve memory, enhance focus, and reduce fatigue.[7,8]
Beta-Alanine: Supplementing with beta-alanine can help you finish out your last few reps or give you a little extra boost during your conditioning workouts. Taking beta-alanine daily helps to improve the buffering capacity of your muscles, ultimately leading to improvements in high-intensity exercise.
Optional Fat-Loss Booster 1: L-Carnitine
Often recommended for its ability to improve fat metabolism and reduce body fat, L-carnitine is a naturally occurring amino acid that serves as a transporter of fatty acids into your cells. Supplementing with L-carnitine may increase the amount of fat that is transported and utilized as an energy source during exercise. Additionally, it's been shown to reduce the amount of exercise-induced muscle damage caused by heavy resistance training.
Optional Fat-Loss Booster 2: CLA
CLA may help you achieve your desired body-composition goals by reducing fat mass and increase muscle mass when combined with a solid exercise plan like Triple Threat. For best results, take 1-2 servings with each meal.[10,11]
Triple Threat Muscle-Building Stack
Staple 1: Pre-workout
A good pre-workout can give you an extra push in the gym, helping you lift heavier and ultimately grow bigger. Here are the top ingredients to look for when your goal is to gain.
Caffeine: Caffeine has repeatedly been shown to be an effective ergogenic aid in lifting. Caffeine can help increase workloads by decreasing the rate of fatigue and lowering the perception of effort. And more workload means greater muscle gains!
Beta-alanine: In some cases, the attribute that makes a supplement great for fat loss makes it just as great for muscle gains. Beta-alanine is a prime example. By aiding your ability to maintain training intensity for longer periods of time, it allows you to rack up more training volume. If you're eating to match that volume, you will gain muscle.
NO Boosters: The primary role of nitric-oxide (NO) boosters is to increase blood flow, stimulating that crucial feeling of getting a great muscle "pump." NO boosters, such as L-arginine and L-citrulline, can enhance blood flow to working muscles, delaying fatigue and improving overall performance.
Staple 2: Whey Protein
A fast-digesting protein like whey is the perfect choice post-workout, when it can help improve your muscles' ability to recover and adapt in the wake of strenuous exercise. And no, not all proteins are the same! Whey protein has been found to stimulate muscle protein synthesis to a greater degree than other proteins like casein and soy.[12,13]
Whey can be especially effective in combination with a solid, intense program like Triple Threat. Studies have found that taking whey regularly while engaging in regular, systematic strength training can lead to significantly greater increases in muscle mass and strength than just doing the training with no added protein.
Staple 3: BCAAs
Besides the fact that they taste delicious, sipping BCAAs before your workout and between sets may help speed up the recovery and repair processes after a tough workout. A 2010 study published in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism found that when participants ingested BCAAs before they trained, they experienced significantly less muscle soreness and damage following a high-volume squat protocol.
It appears that BCAAs, especially leucine, help to regulate protein metabolism by promoting protein synthesis and suppressing protein degradation, which may improve recovery of muscles damaged during resistance training.
Optional Muscle-Growth Booster 1: Creatine Monohydrate
Quite possibly the most effective supplement for increasing muscle mass and high-intensity exercise capacity, creatine monohydrate has repeatedly been show to increase strength, power, and lean mass. And there's no need to avoid it if your goal is fat loss. Stick to a low-dose protocol (3-5 grams per day), which will help prevent any weight gain due to water retention.
Perfect for Any Goal: Multivitamin
A good multivitamin can be a beneficial part of any diet, but especially a reduced-calorie one. When you start reducing calories, you also reduce your intake of important nutrients.
A multivitamin is a good, safe approach to making sure you're getting all of your essential vitamins and minerals every day.
Main | Supplementation Overview | Nutrition Overview | Get Started
- Costill, D. L., Dalsky, G. P., & Fink, W. J. (1977). Effects of caffeine ingestion on metabolism and exercise performance. Medicine and Science in Sports, 10(3), 155-158.
- Doherty, M., & Smith, P. M. (2005). Effects of caffeine ingestion on rating of perceived exertion during and after exercise: a meta‐analysis. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, 15(2), 69-78.
- Dulloo, A. G., Geissler, C. A., Horton, T., Collins, A., & Miller, D. S. (1989). Normal caffeine consumption: influence on thermogenesis and daily energy expenditure in lean and postobese human volunteers. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 49(1), 44-50.
- Nagao, T., Hase, T., & Tokimitsu, I. (2007). A green tea extract high in catechins reduces body fat and cardiovascular risks in humans. Obesity, 15(6), 1473-1483.
- Westerterp-Plantenga, M. S. (2010). Green tea catechins, caffeine and body-weight regulation. Physiology & Behavior, 100(1), 42-46.
- Westerterp‐Plantenga, M. S., Lejeune, M. P., & Kovacs, E. M. (2005). Body weight loss and weight maintenance in relation to habitual caffeine intake and green tea supplementation. Obesity Research, 13(7), 1195-1204.
- Hoffman, J. R., Ratamess, N. A., Gonzalez, A., Beller, N. A., Hoffman, M. W., Olson, M., ... & Jäger, R. (2010). The effects of acute and prolonged CRAM supplementation on reaction time and subjective measures of focus and alertness in healthy college students. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 7(1), 1.
- Rae, C., Digney, A. L., McEwan, S. R., & Bates, T. C. (2003). Oral creatine monohydrate supplementation improves brain performance: a double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over trial. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences, 270(1529), 2147-2150.
- Volek, J. S., Kraemer, W. J., Rubin, M. R., Gómez, A. L., Ratamess, N. A., & Gaynor, P. (2002). L-Carnitine L-tartrate supplementation favorably affects markers of recovery from exercise stress. American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism, 282(2), E474-E482.
- Blankson, H., Stakkestad, J. A., Fagertun, H., Thom, E., Wadstein, J., & Gudmundsen, O. (2000). Conjugated linoleic acid reduces body fat mass in overweight and obese humans. The Journal of Nutrition, 130(12), 2943-2948.
- Gaullier, J. M., Halse, J., Høye, K., Kristiansen, K., Fagertun, H., Vik, H., & Gudmundsen, O. (2004). Conjugated linoleic acid supplementation for 1 y reduces body fat mass in healthy overweight humans. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 79(6), 1118-1125.
- Cribb, P. J., Williams, A. D., Carey, M. F., & Hayes, A. (2006). The effect of whey isolate and resistance training on strength, body composition, and plasma glutamine. International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism,16(5), 494.
- Volek, J. S., Volk, B. M., Gómez, A. L., Kunces, L. J., Kupchak, B. R., Freidenreich, D. J., ... & Kraemer, W. J. (2013). Whey protein supplementation during resistance training augments lean body mass. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 32(2), 122-135. 14. Cermak, N. M., de Groot, L. C., Saris, W. H., & van Loon, L. J. (2012). Protein supplementation augments the adaptive response of skeletal muscle to resistance-type exercise training: a meta-analysis. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 96(6), 1454-1464.
- Shimomura, Y., Inaguma, A., Watanabe, S., Yamamoto, Y., Muramatsu, Y., Bajotto, G., ... & Mawatari, K. (2010). Branched-chain amino acid supplementation before squat exercise and delayed-onset muscle soreness. International Journal of Sport Nutrition, 20(3), 236.