Several bodybuilders, athletes and fitness enthusiasts seek out supplements to increase their muscle mass and strength, as well as to improve their conditioning, athletic performance and health.
There are thousands of supplements on the market today and it can become overwhelming in choosing which ones to use and when to take them. Timing is important in stacking supplements, for achieving results most effectively and avoiding health risks.
I have always recommended sticking to the basics when it comes to supplements. A multivitamin and mineral, glutamine, creatine, protein, caffeine and possibly a nitric oxide product can be safe and effective when used properly.
Products that make lavish claims in muscle gain or decreasing bodyfat levels should be questioned. There are no miracle pills out there. The key to success is consistency with intelligent and intense training and sound nutritional habits.
Supplements can definitely help someone achieve their physique or performance goals, but they should not be heavily relied upon.
Not only that, but data collected by the U.S. government shows that the nutritional content of America's vegetables and fruits has declined since the 1950s, significantly in some cases. In order to ensure sufficient vitamin and mineral intake, I recommend taking a multivitamin and mineral.
These products can vary, but most suggest taking twice a day, once in the morning and once in the afternoon. Look for one that is time-released and includes antioxidants (Vitamin A, C, E and Selenium) to prevent free radical damage, a Vitamin B complex for stress and energy, and Calcium/Magnesium for bone health and to maintain muscle function.
What Are Free Radicals?
Free radicals are atoms, molecules or ions with unpaired electrons on an otherwise open shell configuration. These unpaired electrons are usually highly reactive, so radicals are likely to take part in chemical reactions.
Radicals play an important role in combustion, atmospheric chemistry, polymerization, plasma chemistry, biochemistry, and many other chemical processes, including human physiology.
Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in the entire body, and the body uses it to synthesize protein and repair muscle fibers. Glutamine is crucial in the recovery process and will help prevent post-workout soreness.
The body can make a certain amount of glutamine, but taking additional amounts (within reason) in supplemental form can help keep muscles in an anabolic state and boost the immune system.
A serving of glutamine (1 tsp) is equal to 5 grams. I recommend taking 2-3 servings a day; post-workout and before bed are the optimal times to take this amino acid.
Protein is found in a variety of foods, particularly meats, but whey protein is the ultimate. It is the highest quality and best form of protein available, providing branched-chain amino acids (BCAA's).
BCAA's are the building blocks of muscles and will help one's ability to speed up recovery and increase muscle mass from workout to workout. It is very important to have a protein source after resistance training.
Whey protein is easily digested and quickly absorbed by the body. It is often referred to as a "fast" protein, for its ability to quickly provide nourishment to muscles. I recommend an intake of 30-40 grams of whey protein post-workout.
Casein protein is a slow digesting protein, unlike whey protein. It is a phosphoprotein found in milk. Studies have shown that casein sustained amino acid elevations for 7 hours after ingestion. It has demonstrated a strong anti-catabolic effect.
Whey protein increases protein synthesis to a high degree, but casein is much more important in preventing muscle breakdown. It is for this reason that casein protein intake is best before bed, offering a sustained release of amino acids. Whey protein is best taken post-workout, due to the fast absorption rate.
The process by which nitrogen from amino acids is linearly arranged into structural proteins through the involvement of RNA and various enzymes. Protein synthesis is muscle growth. The more efficient you can make this process the more efficiently you can build muscle.
Creatine is a naturally occurring compound our bodies make and can be found in fish and beef. It is used to supply energy to our muscles through a conversion that produces our muscle's ultimate energy source, Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP). ATP is used during anaerobic respiration (glycolysis) and fuels resistance training workouts.
Creatine can help increase lean muscle mass and is also responsible for improving performance by increasing strength, endurance, and energy levels. Creatine hydrates muscle cells with water molecules, causing muscle fibers to become bigger and stronger.
Creatine monohydrate was the first creatine product to hit the market back in the 1990's. Several improved types of creatine have been produced since then that cause less water retention.
Kre-Alkalyn is a "buffered creatine" that does not convert into creatinine, a waste product, before it reaches the muscle cells. Kre-Alkalyn is processed at a higher pH level than regular creatine monohydrate.
It is believed the conversion of creatine to creatinine being slowed or stopped may help the body absorb more creatine, thus lowering the dosages required for beneficial results.
Kre-Alkalyn is believed to have all the benefits of creatine monohydrate use, with decreased water retention and the elimination of "bloating" past users have reported. The efficiency and safety of creatine monohydrate is well established in scientific literature and thus Kre-Alkalyn is believed to have the same ergogenic abilities and safety profile.
It is recommended to drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration due to increased muscular water uptake from the rest of the body. Pre-workout is the suggested time to take Kre-Alkalyn, and at least 30 minutes following a meal.
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Caffeine is an alkaloid and is present in different ratios in different plant sources such as; guarana, kola nuts, coffee, tea, cocoa beans, and other natural plants. Caffeine is the most popular drug on the globe; six caffeine containing plants are used more worldwide as a beverage than any other plants and herbal materials put together.
It is a powerful stimulant to the central nervous system. This fast-acting substance is a maximum energy and power output accelerant. The structure is very similar to adenine, a component of ATP- your muscle's energy source. Caffeine, much like Ephedra, acts neurologically to increase mental alertness and allows for a more intense focus.
The metabolite of caffeine, paraxanthine, is responsible for an increase in the lipolysis process. Lipolysis is the breakdown of fat stored in fat cells. Glycerol and free fatty acids are released into the bloodstream to be used as a source of energy by muscles, the fat becomes oxidized within the mitochondria of the muscle cells.
Excessive caffeine use can produce undesirable effects, which may include anxiety, heart palpitations and accelerated heart rate. Adults should limit their intake to about 200-400mg per day, which is equivalent to 1-2 cups of coffee. Caffeine is best taken earlier in the day, before workouts.
Nitric Oxide (NO) is a cell signaling molecule, which means it directs a vast array of biological processes in your body. It is a gas made by enzymes breaking down the amino acid, L-Arginine. Therefore, L-Arginine acts as a precursor to nitric oxide. The most beneficial ability NO has to muscle growth is that it is a hemodilator, which means it widens your blood vessels.
This in turn, increases blood flow and oxygen to your muscles, which can potentially increase the "pump" during training. Hemodilation also helps with nutrient delivery and uptake, which is essential for recovery.
NO may also indirectly initiate fatty-acid oxidation. The University of Milan has found that nitric oxide stimulates the synthesis of new mitochondria. Mitochondria are known as the "powerhouses" of the cells because they are used for generating almost all energy produced in the body.
Mitochondria is where all fat is burned and controls your cellular metabolism. Timing should be considered. For instance, it is not recommended to take caffeine and nitric oxide within 4 hours of each other, one causes hemoconstriction and one causes hemodialation, respectively.
These two supplements have different functions and should be used appropriately. People with hypertension should avoid using nitric oxide because it can increase blood pressure. It is suggested to take NO on an empty stomach.
Stacking Your Supplements Together
There are numerous other supplements that are on the market, but I believe the ones I have outlined have been proven to be the most beneficial. Below is a sample of how to stack these supplements together.
Lastly, remember to not sacrifice hard, intense training and a healthy lifestyle in place of supplements. Supplements are just that, they help supplement your gains.
Here's a sample day of what I might take.
|7:00 AM||Meal 1||Multivitamin
Kre-Alkalyn (1 Serving)
|Meal 2||Whey Protein (30-40g)
|1:00 PM||Meal 3||Multivitamin
|2:00 PM||Nitric Oxide (1 Serving)|
|4:00 PM||Meal 4|
|5:00 PM||Nitric Oxide (1 Serving)|
|7:00 PM||Meal 5|
|8:00 PM||Nitric Oxide (1 Serving)|
|10:00 PM||Meal 6||Casein Protein (30-40g)