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[ Q ] I'm a college athlete and I am taking tribulus after having read about it in an article; it seems to be helping. I am concerned, though, that taking it may be against the NCAA banned drug policy. I am asking because while I can't find the name on the list of banned substances. It does boost testosterone, so I don't want to show positive on a drug test. What should I do?
[ A ] Before taking any dietary supplement it is always wise to talk with your doctor to make sure that you are healthy enough to take supplements. In your case, however, and especially because of NCAA regulations, you should check with your doctor and team officials prior to putting any supplement ingredient in your body.
There have been countless cases of athletes using dietary supplements that they thought were free of banned ingredients, only to find out that the product was contaminated with a banned substance, or that while the product was clean it worked so well as to produce a banned result - boosted testosterone levels - that could also be produced by a banned substance.
That being said, and provided that you are using a quality product from a quality company, I do not believe that you have anything to worry about.
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Provided that you're using a high quality product from a reputable company, it is highly unlikely that your product will contain anything other than the ingredients listed on the label. If this product contains only tribulus as you say, then you will not show a positive result on any NCAA drug test.
The second reason that you have nothing to worry about is because of how tribulus works. While it is accurate to say that tribulus can boost testosterone, it is important to note that tribulus boosts testosterone by stimulating luteinizing hormone, through the stimulation of the pituitary gland in the brain.
| Luteinizing Hormone
Luteinizing hormone is a hormone produced by the anterior pituitary gland. In the female, an acute rise of LH - the LH surge - triggers ovulation. In the male it stimulates Leydig cell production of testosterone.
It is thought that this increase in luteinizing hormone increases free testosterone levels - meaning that it increases the amount of unbound and metabolically active testosterone that you naturally produce.
Doping tests of all kinds are designed to test for supraphysiological levels of testosterone - i.e. levels of testosterone so high that they could not have, under any circumstances, been produced naturally by your body and must have therefore been injected.
Because tribulus does not increase your total testosterone count but instead increases only metabolically active testosterone levels, your total testosterone count will remain the same as far as drug testing is concerned. Therefore, no violation will be apparent on tests.
[ Q ] Can women use Sesamin? I am not a bodybuilder, but I just want to lose some fat. Will this product cause me to grow facial hair? Or, is there a better product for me? Something stimulant-free? Please help me; I'm trying to lose for my wedding/honeymoon.
[ A ] Yes, women can use Sesamin.
Sesamin is a natural fatty acid and fiber that's derived from sesame seed oil. Although there is some evidence to suggest that sesamin has a hormonal impact, and because of this it has become popular, it's important to understand the conditions under which sesamin may increase testosterone levels: primarily in circumstances of fatty acid deficiency or caloric restriction.
Because sesamin is a fatty acid, it is calorically dense, containing twice the amount of calories per gram as protein and carbohydrates. The fact that sesamin is high in calories is one of the reasons that it contributes to appetite suppression, but is also one of the reasons why it is a less-than-ideal weight loss agent. Sesamin does not affect facial hair growth in men or women.
From your question, it is obvious to me that sesamin is not really appropriate for you and what you want to accomplish. Instead, and because you prefer to avoid stimulants, I'm going to suggest two things: diet and exercise.
When it comes to weight loss, the most important factor is nutrition. Fortunately, because simple weight loss is your goal, this is easily accomplished through nutritional means. Do the following:
- Eliminate all simple sugars from your diet
- Eliminate all junk food from your diet
- Limit sodium intake in your diet
- Drink at least 1 gallon of water daily
- Don't drink diet soda as artificial sweeteners cause you to crave sugar
- Increase fiber intake
- Increase protein intake
- Eat several times a day
- Eat your food from smaller plates
- Eat less food
As you can see, there is nothing complicated about these steps. They are very simple and, if followed, will produce very dramatic results very quickly for most people. Now, on to exercise.
The purpose of exercise with respect to weight loss is to increase your
metabolism and the amount of
calories that you burn. To do this, a combination of
cardiovascular exercise and resistance training is necessary. For simple weight loss that preserves muscle tissue, I recommend the following:
- Do cardiovascular exercise five days per week, burning only between 300 and 350 calories per session, and keeping the cardiovascular exercise session between 35 and 45 minutes.
- Do resistance training three times per week, performing two exercises per body part, with two sets per exercise, with a per set repetition count of between 10 and 12 repetitions.
Once again, the above recommendations are very simple and are easy to follow. The key to maximizing your metabolism is to combine cardiovascular exercise and resistance training, and to do both forms of these exercise consistently without too much of a break in between days in the gym. The other key to achieving success with this very easy to follow method is this: don't push yourself too hard.
I want to say a few things about this idea that you have to train as hard as possible and burn as many calories as possible every exercise session in the gym: you don't, and buying into this idea is a mistake that will lead only to overtraining and burnout. The fact is: if you push your body too hard, you will eventually become sick and burned out as your immune system will not be able to handle the stress. And, this may lead to weight gain, the opposite of what you want.
So, go slowly, and recognize that changes happen slowly, regardless of how hard you push yourself. Simply do enough to stimulate your body to change, and then leave the gym and rest.
If you do all of the above simple and easy to follow recommendations, I'm sure that you'll be very surprised at the results you get. Write me back and let me know of your success.
[ Q ] Dear Clayton,
I have been working out for years and no matter what chest exercises I do, I still have man boobs. I can't get the fat to go away and the muscle to bulk up. I have tried lifting heavy weights, workout programs from fitness magazines. You name it and I've done it. Is there anything I can do to remedy this situation? Thanks.
San Antonio, TX
[ A ] Thanks for the question. It's safe to say that if you have man boobs despite years of exercising, it is because your body fat levels are too high. Lowering them, then, should your first priority.
While it might seem that you could both add muscle and lose fat at the same time, the fact that you have man boobs tells me that your body fat levels are so high that it will be virtually impossible for you to build new muscle tissue until you have significantly lowered your overall body fat percentage. Why? Hormones.
Lean and muscular people have a hormone profile that is testosterone dominated, and for this reason these people can easily build muscle. Overweight people with higher-than-normal body fat percentages have a hormone profile that is estrogen dominated, characterized by chronically high insulin levels, and therefore can easily gain body fat while muscle growth is difficult.
Therefore, because of these hormonal differences, two people with different body compositions can eat the same foods and react totally differently and with a different outcome.
Therefore, instead of trying to add muscle tissue by various workouts and methods, I recommend that you instead focus on losing body fat while maintaining your existing muscle mass. This is done primarily by the methods recommended above for the previous reader.
By eating well and exercising correctly, you will lose body fat while preserving muscle mass, and this in turn will make it easier to lose more body fat because your metabolism will stay elevated due to your metabolically active muscle mass. In this situation your testosterone-estrogen profile will also change in favour of testosterone, ultimately making long-term muscle growth easier.
So, to conclude, by dropping body fat and maintaining muscle mass for the foreseeable future, you should be able to get your body fat levels down significantly and your hormone profile in favor of testosterone and muscle growth, after which time muscle growth will become a realistic possibility.
[ Q ] Hi. Can I take forskolin with Tenormin?
[ A ] I would highly recommend against taking forskolin if you are currently on the medicine Tenormin.
The prescription drug Tenormin is a beta-blocker that is prescribed by doctors to treat hypertension and other blood pressure problems. It powerfully affects your blood circulation and heart function.
Forskolin is a popular supplement because it raises cyclic AMP levels and powerfully burns fat, increases lean body mass and can even boost testosterone.1 Unfortunately, forskolin is also a vasodilator - it increases blood vessel diameter and increases circulation, and may therefore interact with Tenormin.
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It is quite possible that from taking these two together, you may go from having hypertension - blood pressure that's too high - to having hypotension - blood pressure that's too low, which is equally, if not more, dangerous.
While I can understand that you probably want to use forskolin in place of other thermogenic agents, it's important that you do extensive research on these thermogenic ingredients when you're on medications for blood pressure. And always - ALWAYS - talk to your doctor BEFORE you take any supplement that may interfere with your medical treatment plan.
In my view, the non-stimulant route may be more appropriate for you, provided that the supplement you plan to use does not dramatically impact circulation and blood pressure - i.e. Arginine. Investigate further online and talk with your doctor to find out the best option for you.
[ Q ] Hello Clayton, I am 16 years old. I have ADD/ADHD and I want to build some serious muscle. What can I do in the gym that will help me accomplish this? I don't want to take steroids - so what is the next best legal thing?
[ A ] It's a good thing that you're not interested in steroids at your age, because you don't need them and they would do more harm than good. At your age, your
hormone profile is in rapid flux and, when it stabilizes at around 18-19, your
testosterone levels will be very high, making muscle growth easy - provided that you train and eat right.
Given your ADD/ADHD condition, finding the motivation to exercise will not be hard. ADD/ADHD is a neurologically based condition that is real and has been proven as real by neuroimaging science. The science shows clearly that, compared to non ADD/ADHD brains, people with ADD/ADHD have imbalances in the chemicals dopamine and norepinephrine.
Exercise stimulates the release of both of these chemicals in exactly the same way as methylphenidate - also known as Ritalin - the most commonly prescribed drug treatment option for ADD/ADHD.
After years of research I am firmly convinced that the bodybuilding lifestyle is ideal for people with ADD/ADHD. Not only does exercise stimulate the same chemicals that are triggered by medicine, but exercise also prevents depression - a common occurrence in people with ADD/ADHD, especially those on stimulant medications.
What's more, bodybuilders eat frequently, thus ensuring constant and steady amino acid delivery to the body and even blood-glucose levels - both essential for people with ADD/ADHD to responds well to treatment.
Finally, bodybuilders use supplements like
BCAA's and fatty acids, and research shows that people with ADD/ADHD are frequently deficient in minerals like
zinc, and in BCAA's and fatty acids and phospholipids. All of these ingredients play a role in optimizing brain function, and people with ADD/ADHD responds remarkably well - better than the average population - to using these supplements.
So, my advice to you is this: make sure your diet is spot-on, train as much as you need and no more, and get on a multivitamin, BCCA supplement, protein supplement and a fatty acid supplement. These are all legal and will get you great results at your age and with your condition. Good luck!
- Michael P. Godard, Brad A. Johnson, Scott R. Richmond (August 2005) "Body Composition and Hormonal Adaptations Associated with Forskolin Consumption in Overweight and Obese Men", Obesity Research Vol. 13 No. 8
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