HGH Supplements: Scams or Do They Work?

As you get older your growth hormone production starts to decline. There is also some muscle building and fat loss properties in growth hormone. Many people wanting to look younger and bodybuilders wanting to gain more muscle and lose fat are looking for ways to add HGH (human growth hormone) into their supplements regimen. My first inclination on HGH supplements is they are scams because if they worked you wouldn’t have people going to anti-aging clinics or or illegal black market trying to buy prescription grade HGH. I thought I would do my own research because things I find aren’t always as obvious as they seem in the supplement industry.

HGH supplements cannot contain any real prescription HGH

This is against the law of the FDA if they contain real HGH. Many HGH supplement sites use deceptive marketing to suggest they either contain real HGH or some sort of analog of the real stuff tricking the layman. If they claim to contain HGH or something that is equivalent to it, they are scams because they would be prescriptions not available over the counter. Don’t fall for the false advertising.

HGH is very complex protein. Its 191 different amino acids in a very functional 3D protein. If you have ever taken biology you would know that every part of the 3D structure must maintain its integrity or else it loses its functionality to attach to the receptor. There is no way that this huge protein could ever maintain its integrity at room temperature and during shipping. It is VERY HARD to manafacture real HGH and make sure it stays full integrity. That is why real prescription HGH cost thousands of dollars a month. Do you really expect HGH manafactured in a supplement for 50 bucks to be equivalent to something that costs thousands to recreate? The real prescription HGH is stored at a refrigerated temperature.

Now that we have knocked out some HGH supplements out of the way that claim to contain any amounts of actual HGH. Lets talk about some HGH supplements that claim to work through other mechanisms for boosting your growth hormone levels.

Do HGH Secretagogues work?

These HGH secretagogues GHRP-6 and GHRP-2 are peptides claimed to help boost Growth hormone naturally in the body. Bypassing the whole argument of needing real HGH to do the job. Can these claims really work? Well it actually appears they do work according to studies. Ancedotal evidence by some bodybuilders has suggested they work too.

Unfortunately, HGH secretagogues GHRP-6 and GHRP-2 are illegal in the US for regular supplements as the drug companies have put patents on it. The only way I’ve seen them sold is in non supplement form for “research purposes”. The same way some other bodybuilding drugs are sold openly on the net. Its a legal grey area. If you see HGH secretagogues sold as regular supplements its either a scam or not the ones that are shown to work in the studies I give below.

HGH Secretagogues GHRP-6 and GHRP-2 Studies

D Wu, C Chen, J Zhang, C Y Bowers(1) and I J Clarke
Prince Henry's Institute of Medical Research, PO Box 5152, Clayton, Victoria 3168, Australia and (1) Department of Medicine, Tulane University Medical Center, New Orleans, Louisiana 70112, USA

The effects of GH-releasing peptide-6 (GHRP-6) and GHRP-2 on intracellular adenosine 3',5'-monophosphate (cAMP) levels and GH secretion in ovine and rat somatotrophs

Abstract
The mechanism of action of GH-releasing peptide-6 (GHRP-6) and GHRP-2 on GH release was investigated in ovine and rat pituitary cells in vitro. In partially purified sheep somatotrophs, GHRP-2 and GH-releasing factor (GRF) increased intracellular cyclic AMP (cAMP) concentrations and caused GH release in a dose- dependent manner; GHRP-6 did not increase cAMP levels. An additive effect of maximal doses of GRF and GHRP-2 was observed in both cAMP and GH levels whereas combined GHRP-6 and GHRP-2 at maximal doses produced an additive effect on GH release only. Pretreatment of the cells with MDL 12,330A, an adenylyl cyclase inhibitor, prevented cAMP accumulation and the subsequent release of GH that was caused by either GHRP-2 or GRF. The cAMP antagonist, Rp-cAMP also blocked GH release in response to GHRP-2 and GRF. The cAMP antagonist did not prevent the effect of GHRP-6 on GH secretion whereas MDL 12,330A partially reduced the effect. An antagonist for the GRF receptor, [Ac- Tyr(1) ,d- rg(2) ]-GRF 1-29, significantly diminished the effect of GHRP-2 and GRF on cAMP accumulation and GH release, but did not affect GH release induced by GHRP-6. Somatostatin prevented cAMP accumulation and GH release responses to GHRP-2, GRF and GHRP-6. Ca(2+) channel blockade did not affect the cAMP increase in response to GHRP-2 or GRF but totally prevented GH release in response to GHRP-2, GRF and GHRP-6. These results indicated that GHRP-2 acts on ovine pituitary somatotrophs to increase cAMP concentration in a manner similar to that of GRF; this occurs even during the blockade of Ca(2+) influx. GHRP-6 caused GH release without an increase in intracellular cAMP levels. GHrelease in response to all three secretagogues was reduced by somatostatin and was dependent upon the influx of extracellular Ca(2+) . The additive effect of GHRP-2 and GRF or GHRP-6 suggested that the three peptides may act on different receptors. In rat pituitary cell cultures, GHRP-6 had no effect on cAMP levels, but potentiated the effect of GRF on cAMP accumulation. The synergistic effect of GRF and GHRP-6 on cAMP accumulation did not occur in sheep somatotrophs. Whereas GHRP-2 caused cAMP accumulation in sheep somatotrophs, it did not do so in rat pituitary cells. These data indicate species differences in the response of pituitary somatotrophs to the GHRPs and this is probably due to different subtypes of GHRP receptor in rat or sheep.

Here is another

Frieboes RM, Murck H, Antonijevic IA, Steiger A.
Title
Effects of growth hormone-releasing peptide-6 on the nocturnal secretion of GH, ACTH and cortisol and on the sleep EEG in man: Role of routes of administration
Source
Journal of Neuroendocrinology. 11(6):473-478, 1999 Jun.
Author Keywords
Growth hormone, Growth hormone-releasing peptides, Corticotropins, Clinical neuroendocrinology, Sleep.
KeyWords Plus® by ISI®
Normal men, Factor-i, Secretagogue, Receptor, Hexarelin, Pituitary, Insulin, Intranasal, Prolactin, Efficacy.

Abstract
After repeated intravenous (i.v.) boluses of growth hormone-releasing peptide-6 (GHRP-6) we found recently increases of growth hormone (GH), corticotropin (ACTH) and cortisol levels and of the amount of stage 2 sleep, In clinical use, oral (p.o.), intranasal (i.n.) and sublingual (s.l.) routes of administration have advantages over i.v. administration, We compared the sleep-endocrine effects of 300 mu g/kg of body weight (b.w.) GHRP-6 in enteric-coated capsules given p.o. at 21.00 h and of 30 mu g/kg GHRP-6 i.n. or 30 mu g/kg GHRP-6 st. given at 22.45 h in normal young male controls with placebo conditions. After GHRP-6 p.o. secretion of GH, ACTH and cortisol remained unchanged. The only effect of GHRP-6 s.l. was a trend toward an increase in GH in the first half of the night. GHRP-6 i.n. prompted a significant increase in GH concentration during the total night and a trend toward an increase in ACTH secretion during the first half of the night, whereas cortisol secretion remained unchanged. Furthermore, after GHRP-6 i.n., sleep stage 2 increased in the second half of the night by trend, and spectral analysis of total night non-rapid eye movement (REM) sleep revealed a decrease of delta power by trend. In contrast sleep stage 2 decreased during the second half of the night after GHRP-6 p.o. Our data demonstrate that GHRP-6 is capable of modulating GH and ACTH secretion as well as sleep. However, the effects depend upon dosage, duration and route of administration. [References: 41]

Blandine Laferrère, Cynthia Abraham, Colleen D. Russell and Cyril Y. Bowers

Obesity Research Center (B.L., C.A., C.D.R.), St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital Center and Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, 1090 Amsterdam Avenue, New York, New York 10025; and Tulane U

Abstract

GHRP-2 is a synthetic agonist of ghrelin, the newly-discovered gut peptide which binds to the growth hormone (GH) secretagogue receptor. Ghrelin has two major effects, stimulating both GH secretion and appetite/meal initiation. GHRP-2 has been extensively studied for its utility as a growth hormone secretagogue (GHS). Animal studies have shown its effect on food intake. However, whether GHRP-2 can also stimulate appetite in humans when administered acutely is not known. We subcutaneously infused 7 lean, healthy males with GHRP-2 (1 µg/kg/h) or saline for 270 minutes and then measured their intake of an ad libitum, buffet-style meal. Similar to what has been reported for ghrelin administration, our subjects ate 35.9 ± 10.9% more when infused with GHRP-2 vs. saline, with every subject increasing their intake even when calculated per kg body weight (136.0 ± 13.0 kJ/kg [32.5 ± 3.1 kcal/kg] vs. 101.3 ± 10.5 kJ/kg [24.2 ± 2.5 kcal/kg], p = 0.008). The macronutrient composition of consumed food was not different between conditions. As expected, serum GH levels rose significantly during GHRP-2 infusion (AUC 5550 ± 1090 µg/L/240 min vs. 412 ± 161 µg/L/240 min, p = 0.003). These data are the first to demonstrate that GHRP-2, like ghrelin, increases food intake, suggesting that GHRP-2 is a valuable tool for investigating ghrelin effects on eating behavior in humans.

Do HGH sprays work?

HGH sprays are scams because if it contained real HGH trying to absorb through the nasal or oral cavity layers the product is a scam. As pointed out earlier, over the counter natural HGH supplement can’t contain real HGH or they would be a prescription drug. Even if it wasn’t a scam, the HGH molecule is too big and to sensitive to environmental change to get through effectively intact.

Natural supplements that do boost HGH production

In addition to secretagogues, amino acids boost production of growth hormone in the body. Glutamine supplements has been shown in studies to really spike the growth hormone. Protein is composed of amino acids though and since bodybuilders already take plenty of protein, this won’t be very helpful knowledge. L-dopa in supplements, a neurotransmitter, also can spike growth hormone naturally.

Does prescription HGH work?

Yes, but since this is a natural bodybuilder blog, we don’t advocate the use of HGH prescriptions, for bodybuilding. I would put secretagogues in that group to avoid also, since you are ingesting a peptide precursor to try and artificially boost your levels of growth hormone really high instead of through a more natural means. HGH isn’t a very effective mass builder by itself anyways. They are used more for fat loss properties.

Realize if you are using HGH for anti-aging purposes and not bodybuilding because you you are older and have a deficiency, its probably not a good idea either. The use of prescription HGH for cosmetic reasons hasn’t really been around commonly by enough people to really get a good scope of its effect on our health yet. Its very expensive and only in the last few years has really taken off widespread. There is some research to suggest that taking HGH injections may cause bad side effects on your health.

From a scientific standpoint, their still is yet any evidence that it truly helps reverse or stops the aging process either. Although people who do take HGH injections do look younger, that may not actually stop the aging process. Aging is a very complex process at the cellular level and resulting from free radicals and wear and tear. I doubt taking growth hormone could stop the aging process completely. Its a big gamble on your health for a temporary boost in looking younger when there are safer ways to prevent the aging look.

Creatine Non-Responders

The idea of Creatine non-responders is a contreversial topic to some in bodybuilding.  Those who get great results from Creatine can’t understand why some are claiming no results. I want to settle the issue once and for all. 

What is a Creatine nonresponder? 

It’s someone who doesn’t notice all the usual immediate effects one would expect from using creatine. The effects usually include modest strength and endurance gains, extra lean gains, and fuller muscles and water bloat.  Creatine works at the cellular level to help give short term bursts of energy so it does enhance strength for short duration heavy sets and give you more overall endurance.  Creatine also helps draw in more water into the muscle cells, which is why you have to make sure you drink plenty of water with creatine to avoid cramping.  For some reason some people don’t really notice these effects no matter how much and long they supplement.

How to know if you are a true Creatine Non-Responder

I believe there are legitimate cases of Creatine non-responders.  I personally don’t respond at all to creatine monohydrate.  Now some suggest you need a better form of creatine like micronized creatine or one of the others that absorb well.  If it was just a matter of getting a better creatine form than monohydrate would work for creatine non-responders. All they would have to do is take a little bit extra each day for a little longer to make up for differences in absorption.   Its not an absorption issue though because even when I took above and longer than the recommended dose of creatine monohydrate I noticed no real effect like others have.  Some bodybuilders notice a dramatic difference in weight and strength gains with creatine, some are more modest, but I don’t experience anything that I can attribute to creatine. Creatine non-responders is not just an ancedotal finding among bodybuilders. Its also been showing in many studies that a percentage of the population do not respond to creatine.

I believe there are small amount of cases where people confuse Creatine non-responder to some other issue. For example, if they are using some bad form of creatine like liquid creatine or CEE creatine which has been shown to be scams because they break down in the stomach making it worthless. Obviously, if you use a bad form of creatine like them then you are not going to be a responder.   However, there are many including me that don’t respond to the regular monohydrate form of creatine or other acceptable forms.

Sciencentific theories on creatine nonresponders

There are some other theories about what causes creatine nonresponders.  Some have suggested not enough meat in the diet.  Ive never been a big meat eater, but I do eat meat regularly and many other non-responders do.  If your a vegetarian then that may be a legitimate case for being a non-responder, since meat does contain natural amounts of creatine and your body doesn’t make all that it needs.

The theory that seems the most acceptable to me is that some people just genetically don’t respond well to creatine because they either have high levels of natural creatine that their body makes.  Our body does make small amounts of creatine when it doesn’t get it from the diet. Which is why you have to cycle creatine supplements so you don’t start shutting off natural production.

Below is a study that suggests my theory on Creatine non-responders is correct. It seems to suggest those with lower type 2 muscle fibers (fast power muscle fibers that are most responsible for muscle size gains and strength) and those with less muscle and other muscle genetic factors are more likely to be creatine nonresponders.

1: J Strength Cond Res. 2004 Aug;18(3):610-7.
?*
Acute Creatine Monohydrate Supplementation: A Descriptive Physiological Profile of Responders vs. Nonresponders.

Syrotuik DG, Bell GJ.
Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada.

Syrotuik, D.G., and G.J. Bell. Acute creatine monohydrate supplementation: a descriptive physiological profile of responders vs. nonresponders.

J. Strength Cond. Res. 18(3):610- 617. 2004.-The purpose of this study was to describe the physiological profile of responders (>20 mmol.kg(-1) dry weight [dw] increase in total intramuscular creatine monohydrate [Cr] + phosphorylated creatine [PCr]) versus nonresponders (<10 mmol.kg(-1) dw increase) to a 5-day Cr load (0.3 g.kg(-1).d(-1)) in 11 healthy men (mean age = 22.7 years). Pre-post 5-day cellular measures included total resting Cr content (Cr + PCr), fiber type composition, and fiber type cross-sectional area (CSA) determined from muscle biopsies of the vastus lateralis. Body mass, daily dietary intake, 24-hour urine outputs, urinary Cr and creatinine (CrN), and strength performance measures (1 repetition maximum [1RM] bench and leg press) were also assessed before and after the 5-day loading period. Results indicated that there were 3 levels of response to the 5-day supplementation: responders (R), quasi responders (QR), and nonresponders (NR) with mean changes in resting Cr + PCr of 29.5 mmol.kg(-1) dw (n = 3), 14.9 mmol.kg(-1) dw (n = 5), and 5.1 mmol.kg(-1) dw (n = 3), respectively. The results support a person-by-treatment interaction to acute Cr supplementation with R possessing a biological profile of lowest initial levels of Cr + PCr, greatest percentage of type II fibers, and greatest preload muscle fiber CSA and fat-free mass. Responders also showed improvement in 1RM leg press scores following the 5-day loading period. NR had higher preload levels of Cr + PCr, less type II muscle fibers, small preload muscle CSA, and lower fat-free mass and displayed no improvements in 1RM strength scores. The results suggest that to be considered a responder to acute oral supplementation, a favorable preexisting biological profile may determine the final extent to which an individual responds to supplementation. Physiologic profiles of nonresponders appear to be different and may limit their ability to uptake Cr. This may help partially explain the reported equivocal performance findings in the Cr supplementation literature.

What is The Best Creatine Form?

There are so many different Creatine forms out today. Every supplement company that came out with a new form of Creatine, claimed that there was better than previous other Creatine forms. One reason why new forms of Creatine came out after the original Creatine monohydrate was because some people appear to be non-responders. It was believed that this was caused due to a absorption issue, therefore a lot of it was being excreted in the urine and not absorbed into the muscle tissue.

Creatine loading was invented to increase the absorption of Creatine. During the loading phase, you may have digestion problems such as diarrhea or stomach upset. That was where you took it in higher doses with glucose/dextrose in order to increase it’s absorption into the body. This is because not all of the Creatine is digested and the creatine molecule loves to “suck in” a lot of water with it, as it travels through your digestion tract. This is the same reason why creatine works to bloat up your muscles.

Despite creatine loading, many still don’t respond well with creatine monohydrate. New Creatine forms came out that claimed to have a higher absorption rate. Then newer forms of Creatine even claimed other benefits due to the extra compound in the molecule bonded with the creatine molecule. I will review every form of creatine on the market today and which is the best creatine form.

Creatine Forms:

Creatine Monohydrate :

This is the very first creatine product. It is a tasteless white powder. Creatine monohydrate is the cheapest form of creatine so is still widely used, but it also appears to have the highest amount of creatine “non-responders” too. The absorption rate is approximately 1% and it’s advised to be loading phase. Creatine monohydrate is very unstable in water, so make sure when you put it in water you immediately drink it. Creatine Monohydrate in it’s pure form made in Germany, is labeled with the Creapure logo on the tub.

(CEE) Creatine Ethyl Ester :

For years this was the hot new creatine form. Many recommended CEE as the superior form of Creatine, even though there were no substantial valid studies to really back up claims. CEE could be taken in pill form with no loading phase required. In 07, the first real study came out on CEE by Department of Life Sciences, Kingston University, Penrhyn Rd, Kingston-upon-Thames, United Kingdom. 2University of Northumbria, Sport Sciences, Northumbria University, Northumberland Building, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom. The study showed that over 60% degraded to inactive creatinine within 30 minutes sitting in an acidic water solution that mimicked the stomach. This proved CEE was not as good as once claimed.

Micronized Creatine :

This is creatine monohydrate that underwent a new process called micronization. It allows the molecule to have more surface area making it a higher absorption rate. Micronized Creatine still requires a loading phase and only slightly better absorption.

Effervescent Creatine :

This is also just a fancy name for Creatine Monohydrate. The only thing different here is they add add some sugar and salt.

Tri and Di Creatine Malate :

Tri and Di Creatine Malate are made from Malic acid and Creatine. If you remember biology, malic acid is involved in the Kreb’s cycle of the cell. This is how all energy in the cell is created at it’s basic core. You can see in the diagram below of this cycle how the malate molecule plays a catylst to get the NADH to donate two hydrogens to the malate to convert the NAD to NADH+ and the malate to oxoloacetate.

Kreb cycle malate creatine

This Creatine form was created to give more muscular endurance and energy. Users report that it helps do that. Creatine Malate has a higher absorption rate than Creatine monohydrate and doesn’t require a loading phase.

Liquid serum creatine :

This is absolute scam that has been widely debunked years ago. Creatine is unstable and degrades in liquid.

Creatine Orate:

The orate molecule is a pre-cursor to nucleic acids like ATP, used as a basic energy currency at the cellular level. This requires no loading phase. Unfortunately, Creatine Orate is quite expensive and there are no studies on the safety of this form of creatine.

Creatine Kre-Alkalyn:

This is a much higher absorption rate than creatine and doesn’t require a loading phase. No studies have been done on the safety of Creatine Kre-alkalyn yet.

Which form is the best creatine?

Considering all the factors together of price, studies, benefits, and side effects I would say the best creatine forms are Creatine Monohydrate, Creatine Kre-alkalyn, and Creatine Malate. All are good choices and each has their own pros and cons. You can’t beat the price of Creatine Monohydrate and for many it works fine with little side effects. If you are a creatine monohydrate non-responder or have a lot of side effects with monohydrate, than Kre-alkalyn is a good creatine form to try instead. If you want a possible extra energy benefit during your workout, you should try Creatine Malate.

Thyroid Booster Supplements to Increase Fat Loss

The thyroid is one of the most important regulators of your metabolism. It has a role in not only how many calories and fat you burn, but over regulating the rate of protein synthesis. When your thyroid slows down during dieting, it is one cause behind the fat loss plateau. Below is a list of some common thyroid booster supplements found that can help boost your thyroid levels. These would be especially ideal to take to get through a fat loss plateau.

Thyroid boosting supplements

Ephedra / Ephedrine Ephedrine or it’s natural herbal supplement form Ephedra, are stimulants and increase your metabolism by stimulating the thyroid. It also plays a important additional role in fat burning, through it’s action on beta receptors on fat cells. It does this by increasing adrenaline and nor-adrenaline (called beta agonists because they bind to beta receptors on the fat cells.). Ephedrine also can act like a beta agonist itself. This action on the beta agonists cells leads to increased cAMP production, which increases enzymes that directly cause fat breakdown.

Gugglesterones: This natural extract found from an Indian Tree, shows in studies that it may help increase the conversion of T4 to T3 in the liver and kidneys. T3 is much more potent and is the main form of circulating thyroid.

Forskolin: Derived from the plant Coleus forskohlii, it has been used medicinally for centuries. This supplement isn’t talked too much in the bodybuilding community, but it is severely underrated. Studies have shown it plays a direct role in stimulating cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP). cAMP as said earlier, is produced after ephedrine stimulates the beta receptors. Stimulating cAMP increases thyroid levels, insuline levels, and fat breakdown in the cell.

Synephrine Similiar to structure as Ephedra, but a weaker stimulant, it can also boost your thyroid and fat breakdown through stimulating the beta receptors.

Caffeine Caffeine is a stimulant and also slows the breakdown of cAMP. By keeping cAMP at high levels, it leads to more direct fat loss and increased thyroid function. It is also breaks down in the liver into a compound that increases the increases the amount of circulating fatty acids in the blood, allowing more fat to be burned for energy. Caffeine by itself according to studies, doesn’t seem to be too potent a fat burner for those who ingest it regularly already. It is commonly stacked with Ephedra or Synhephrine, to make the stack more potent because of caffeine’s role on cAMP levels.

That was just a list of the most common. There are many other types. Check here for the full list of thyroid boosters on the market today.

Does Hydroxycut Hardcore Work?

Many bodybuilders have used Hydroxycut Hardcore as an alternative to ephedra based fat burning stacks. To find out if hydroxycut works you have to look at each individual compound and the research supporting it.

Hydroxycut Hardcore Ingredients:

Ingredients include Green tea extract, caffeine, Methyl 17 alpha-hydroxy-yohimban-16 alpha-carboxylate hydrochloride, Black Pepper Extract, white willow extract, among many other compounds.

You may be wondering what exactly Methyl 17 alpha-hydroxy-yohimban-16 alpha-carboxylate hydrochloride is, it’s just a fancy name for one form of Yohimbe. Yohimbe is a well known stimulant herb. It was used pharmaceutically for treating means ED (erectile dysfunction). It turns out, it is also a very good fat burner. It works through the same metabolic pathway as ephedrine, to cause fat loss, just at a different way. It blocks the negative pathway insteading of directly stimulating the adrenaline receptors, like ephedra. Yohimbe doesn’t seem to be as strong a fat burner ancedotally, and thats probably because because of it’s indirect action. There is plenty of research studies showing the way yohimbe acts on the cells and people losing fat from it’s use.

Caffeine in hydroxycut can play an important synergistic role with the Yohimbe in hydroxycut. Many bodybuilders used to stack Ephedrine and caffeine because caffeine has a special role in making ephedrine more potent. Caffeine and Yohimbe has the same effect and is often stacked together, to increase fat burning.

White willow extract is a source of aspirin. They can’t use aspirin because that is regulated as a drug, so they have to use the bark where aspirin is derived. Aspirin is thought to help aid in fat loss, by increasing blood flow to areas deep in the fat. The problem about aspirin is it has been proven to stop protein synthesis. As a bodybuilder, you don’t want to lose your hard earned muscle, while you lose fat. To me this addition is not good.

Green Tea extract is derived from Green tea and studies show it has a dramatic increase in raising metabolism more than 30%. Green tea also is good for regulating insulin levels and maintaining low glucose levels, which means it increases insulin sensitivity. Insulin sensitivity increases the fat you lose and increases the amount of muscle you retain while cutting because of the nutrient partiotioning effect insulin sensitivity.

Black pepper can aid in fat loss and increase metabolism. This seems to be an effect from most pepper plants.

Conclusion

Hydroxycut Hardcore has a mix of compounds that have a lot of research backing them as raising metabolism or stimulating fat loss through fat loss metabolic pathways. I have a serious problem with them using the aspirin in the supplement. I would not recommend hydroxycut for bodybuilders because the aspirin will interfere with maintaining muscle and increase muscle loss. There are other good fat burning stacks that don’t add it. Many bodybuilders often make their own homemade fat loss stacks out of Yohimbe, ephedrine, etc.

Tribulus Terrestris Review

Tribulus Terrestris extract is a herbal supplement that is claimed by supplement companies to boost testosterone, therefore helping to build muscle. It was first used as a chinese medicine for premature ejaculation.

Unfortunately, over the years multiple studies have debunked the idea of testosterone increases from Tribulus Terrestris supplementation. Bodybuilders that have taken it, usually report no boost in muscle building. Over the years, companies have tried to claim that there tribulus terrestris was superior or that it contained the right form of it in the right amounts.

I think one reason why their is a strong belief that Tribulus Terrestris increases testosterone, is because most notice an increase in libido and erections with Tribulus. Most had previously thought this was probably due to an increase in LH stimulating testosterone production, but a study showed the real cause. A rabbit study published in Ann Acad Med Singapore. 2000 Jan;29(1):22-6 showed that tribulus causes a release of nitric oxide in the body. Viagra works on nitrix oxide too. Nitrix oxide causes improved blood flow to the penis and the rest of the body by vasodilation. A study done on rats Life Sci. 2002 Aug 9;71(12):1385-96 showed increased mounting activity from it’s use.

It appears that Tribulus Terrestris may be a good sexual health drug, but for building muscle it is unlikely to help.

Beta-Alanine Review

Beta-Alanine in recent years caught attention as a popular bodybuilding muscle building supplement, but the research supporting this supplement goes pretty far back. Beta-Alanine is one of the biggest supplement breakthroughs since Creatine. Coincidentally, Beta-Alanine was first researched by , Dr. Roger Harris in the 90’s, who’s research led us also to Creatine.

What is Beta-Alanine?

Beta-Alanine is a non-proteinogenic amino acid, which just means it can’t be converted to protein. Although it is found naturally in certain meats, but it’s only in small amounts. The only way to truly benefit from high doses of beta-alanine, is to buy it in supplement form.

How Beta-Alanine benefits bodybuilders:

Dr. Roger Harris discovered carnosine was in higher concentrations in Type 2 muscle fibers, these fibers are most responsible for getting bigger and producing strength. Inside the muscle, carnosine, seems to regulate the PH levels in muscle fibers. As you know, lactic acid can build up in a persons muscles causing the painful burn and to prematurely end their set. Carnosine in the muscle allows someone to workout longer because of it buffering the PH level and they feel less pain.

The only way carnosine gets into the muscle, is after it has been converted from beta-alanine and histidine in the body. Histidine is already in plenty amounts circulating the body, but beta-alanine is not. The only way to get beta-alanine into the body in the first place, is either to take carnosine (which converts to beta-alanine and histidine during digestion) or to take beta-alanine by itself.

A study by Stout, J., et al., Effects of Beta-Alanine supplementation on the onset of neuromusclular fatigue and ventilatory threshold in women. University of Oklahoma, OK has reaffirmed earlier research, that beta-alanine allows better muscular endurance.

Not only can beta-alanine supplementation help with muscular endurance and power, but with muscle gains. A study by Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2006 Aug;16(4):430-46 showed after 10 weeks on 33 football players, showed the beta-alanine plus creatine group gained more muscle and lost more fat, over the creatine only and placebo groups. I suspect this is because they could workout more intensely with beta-alanine and this could lead to better long term muscle gains. Like creatine, beta-alanine allows you to workout longer and more intensely. This better muscular endurance should lead to better long term muscle gains in theory. Another possible theory of mine for the muscle gains, is that lowering the PH level in the muscle fibers during workouts, allows for a better muscle building environment.

Whether you take carnosine or beta-alanine, it doesn’t matter because both will eventually get converted to carnisine back in the muscles. Bodybuilders prefer to take beta-alanine powder because it is cheaper and can also be found in bulk powder. Most bodybuilders stack creatine and beta-alanine together, so they get two powerful muscle builders together at once. You may notice a tingling sensation when you first take beta-alanine, but it goes away after a few weeks. This is caused by some stimulation on the nerves.

Liver Tablets Review

Liver tablets were a common supplement among bodybuilders years ago, before they had all the fancy bodybuilding supplements they have today like; creatine, NO supplements, beta-alanine, anti-estrogens, etc. It’s harder to convince bodybuilders they need to spend extra money for something naturally derived from a liver.

What are liver tablets?

Liver tablets are all the nutrients derived from a liver, in a highly concentrated tablet. It would be a lot costlier to eat the liver for the nutrients, than to get it in pill form. Liver tablets contain the full spectrum of important vitamins and minerals, probably not enough to replace your multi-vitamin though. They are also rich in essential amino acids, so are great for pre-workout. One unique thing is they contain nucleic acids, which are precursors to ADP which is then a precursor to ATP, the main energy currency in the cell. Cytochrome P-450 which is important in muscular endurance is also naturally in liver tablets. There are also some natural growth factors contained in liver tablets. Unfortunately, Liver tablets also have a lot of iron in them, which is not good for men.

Conclusion:

Liver tabletsare a great blend of important compounds to work synergistcally, for general health and to support muscle building. It will cost you about the same as a moderate priced multi-vitamin. The one thing I don’t like about liver tablets is the high iron they naturally contain, but as long as your multi-vitamin doesn’t have any iron in it, it should be OK to supplement together.

Ephedra Alternatives

Ephedra is a natural stimulant herb used in supplements. The media has been trying to scare people for years about it because some people took way over the recommended dosage. The FDA at one point banned it in supplements, but then when a U.S court allowed it in low doses, the FDA has yet to step in on the issue again. Ephedra is certainly not the only fat burner that works, but it is one of the most effective. Let’s look at some of the ephedra alternatives, should ephedra once again get banned by the FDA or because you prefer something else.

Stimulant Ephedra alternatives:

Ephedrine – Ephedrine is the commercial pill version that many bodybuilders used, when ephedra was banned. Ephedrine is often used in cold medicines, but because it is also used in the process to manafacture methamphatemine, it requires identification to purchase it and there is a limit to how much you can purchase at a time. This information is given to the drug enforcement agency.

Synephrine – The citrus plant called “bitter orange”, contains an active stimulant similiar in structure as ephedrine, called Synephrine. Because it is similiar to ephedrine it should be almost as beneficial in aiding fat loss. It also can be stacked with caffeine to increase effectiveness, just like the old ephedrine caffeine stacks.

Yohimbe – This stimulant has been around for years, first used to treat men’s erectile dysfunction. It actually turns out to be a good fat burner, but it works on a different mechanism than ephedrine. It also has the unique ability to help with spot reduction of fat.

Read more about Yohimbe’s fat loss spot reduction in a previous article of mine:
Can Yohimbine Transdermals Spot Reduce Fat

There are other stimulants that are used commercially for fat loss, but none as researched and well known as the above.

Non-Stimulant Ephedra Alternatives:

Most of the non-stimulant fat burners aren’t potent enough by themselves, like the stimulants such as Ephedra or synephrine. Therefore, most common fat burner supplements stack together an array of fatburning compounds. Green tea is common in most commercial fat burner stacks, which raises the metabolism by up to 30%! Octopamine HCL (also known as Norsynephrine HCl) is found in some fat burners. This is a amine akaloid that is derived from synephrine, except it is not a stimulant and it’s been highly concentrated to magnify it’s benefits. Octopamine HCL increases metabolism, increases fat oxidation, improves insulin sensitivity, decreases catabolism of muscle tissue. Sesamin, derived from sesame seeds, has a unique method of increasing fat oxidation and preventing fat storage. Acetyl-L Carnitine (ALCAR) is a well proven fat loss ingredient, found naturally in meat, but in a different form. There are countless other fat burning compounds, far too many to go through here, that have potential to aid in fat loss.

Does ZMA Work?

ZMA is a proprietary trademark blend, developed by Victor Conte of Balco Labs, based on research studies. It was developed to increase testosterone and muscular strength.

How ZMA works

ZMA is zinc, magnesium and B6. Zinc appears to have a strong role in regulating testosterone levels, by blocking the conversion of testosterone to DHT, through the 5A Reductase enzyme. Magnesium is a important neurological mineral and has been shown in past studies to improve strength. Vitamin B6 helps with zinc’s inhibitory action on the 5A reductase enzyme.

ZMA Studies

The original study on ZMA was founded by the Victor Conte. He had NCAA football athletes stop taking nutritional supplements for 8 weeks. The control group took ZMA and their lean muscle, strength, and serum testosterone levels were monitored. ZMA supplementation iincreased the leg strength by 11.5% over 4.9% of the placebo. There was an increase of 30% in free and total testosterone (vs 10% in the placebo), and an increase of 20% in IGF-1 levels (vs a 20% decrease in placebo). Results of the study did not show any changes in lean muscle gains despite the anabolic changes.

A study published in (Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 1 (2): 12-20. doi:10.1186/1550-2783-1-2-12) showed no significant differences were observed between groups in anabolic or catabolic hormone status, body composition, 1-RM bench press and leg press, upper or lower body muscular endurance, or cycling anaerobic capacity during 8 weeks of ZMA supplementation.

A recent ZMA study published in (European Journal of Clinical Nutrition advance online publication, 19 September 2007; doi:10.1038/sj.ejcn.1602899) 14 subjects in their 20s through 30’s excercised regularly and took 11 to 22 mg of zinc a day, before the study started. When the study started, they took the recommended doses of ZMA and measured their urine for testosterone and other metabolites and their serum testosterone levels. Results showed no difference in free or total testosterone serum levels or in changes in urine excretion patterns of testosterone and it’s metabolites. Serum zinc levels and excretion in urine were heightened.

Conclusion:

The only study that shows ZMA works, was the original funded by the developer of ZMA. ZMA probably only works if you are deficient in magnesium or zinc. Zinc appears to be excreted after excercise, so bodybuilders may require slightly more to offset their active lifestyle. This doesn’t point to the efficacy of ZMA as being anything special, just that some may benefit from ZMA because they are already deficient. If you have a really good multi-vitamin with a easily absorbable form of zinc (something other than zinc oxide), it should be adequate zinc intake.


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