Eat for Raw Power!

Build Muscle, Burn Fat, and Increase Performance

Beta-alanine

Eat for Raw Power! - Build Muscle, Burn Fat, and Increase PerformanceNext to creatine, this amazing amino acid is something that all performance athletes should supplement with. According to certified sports nutritionist Abbie Smith, MS, CISSN of the University of Oklahoma, “Beta-alanine is clearly on my top-10 list of ergogenic aids. The data on its efficacy is expanding and I personally use it.”

In fact, a recent study was done to evaluate the effect of combining beta-alanine supplementation with high-intensity interval training (HIIT) on endurance performance and aerobic metabolism in recreationally active, college-aged men. In a double-blind fashion, subjects were randomly assigned to a placebo (PL,16.5 grams of dextrose powder per packet) or beta-alanine (BA,1.5 grams of beta-alanine plus 15 grams of dextrose powder per packet) group. All subjects supplemented four times per day (total of 6 grams/day) for the first 21 days, followed by two times per day (3 grams/day) for the subsequent 21 days, and engaged in a total of six weeks of HIIT training consisting of five to six bouts of a 2:1 minute cycling work-to-rest ratio. Researchers found improvements in oxygen uptake (i.e., VO2 peak) and lean body mass in the BA group after the second three weeks of training.6 Another study found that supplementing with beta-alanine enhances sprint performance at the end of an exhaustive endurance exercise bout.7

Branched-chain Amino Acids

In a study on BCAAs (leucine, valine and isoleucine), subjects were randomly assigned to two groups and were provided either a BCAA drink (0.4 percent BCAA, 4 percent carbohydrate; 1,500 mL/d) or an isocaloric placebo drink for six days. On the seventh day, subjects performed an exercise test. Researchers found that the respiratory exchange ratio during the exercise test in the BCAA trial was lower than the placebo trial; this indicates that BCAA-supplemented subjects were burning more fat. Also, the VO2max (the maximum amount of oxygen your body can take in) in the BCAA trial was higher than that in the placebo trial. So this study proves that BCAA supplementation can improve endurance exercise capacity.8 Another study found that BCAA supplementation may lessen muscle soreness.9

Caffeine

Who doesn’t love caffeine? It’s on my top-three list of supplements. According to Darryn Willoughby, Ph.D. of Baylor University, “The data on caffeine is as robust as five cups of espresso. It clearly has an ergogenic effect on performance and wakes me up in the morning.”

In fact, caffeine ingestion before simulated soccer activity improved players’ passing accuracy and jump performance without any detrimental effect on other performance parameters.10 In another study, college-aged men who were low (< or=100 mg/day) or high (> or=400 mg/day) habitual caffeine consumers ingested caffeine (5 mg/kg bodyweight; which is about 455 milligrams for a 200-pound person) or a placebo in a counterbalanced order. One hour later, the subjects completed 30 minutes of cycle ergometry at 75-77 percent of peak oxygen consumption. Researchers found that caffeine ingestion resulted in a reduction in the intensity of quadriceps muscle pain during the 30-minute bout of high-intensity exercise, compared to placebo ingestion, in both low- and high-caffeine consumers.11 This is one of the reasons you can exercise much harder after consuming caffeine. You feel less pain!

Creatine

Is there anyone out there who doesn’t know that creatine is safe and effective for promoting gains in muscle mass, strength and power? The studies are numerous. A recent one compared the effect of a moderate dose of creatine monohydrate (CM) and two smaller doses of polyethylene glycosylated (PEG) creatine on muscular strength, endurance, and power output. This particular study found that 5 grams daily of creatine monohydrate increased body mass and improved muscle strength. Smaller doses of PEG creatine (1.25 and 2.50 grams daily) also improved muscle strength to the same extent as 5 grams daily of creatine monohydrate, but did not alter body mass, power output, or endurance. PEG creatine may have ergogenic effects that are comparable to those of CM, but with a smaller dose of creatine.12

There is also data on teenagers showing that creatine is effective. Five days of creatine supplementation enhanced the dynamic strength and anaerobic metabolism in the lower-extremity muscles. It also improved performance in consecutive maximal swims in highly-trained adolescent fin swimmers.13

And according to the International Society of Sports Nutrition, “Creatine monohydrate is the most effective ergogenic nutritional supplement currently available to athletes in terms of increasing high-intensity exercise capacity and lean body mass during training.”14

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