Sunday, November 6, 2011

The three supplements EVERY athlete should take!

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There are a host of companies out there gunning for every single extra dollar you have to spend each month.  When you are dealing with sports nutrition companies you must realize you are dealing with highly effective marketing machines that will tell you anything within FDA guidelines to make sure you purchase their product.  I won't be pointing fingers or casting blame on anyone, but I will give you some tips so that if you decide to venture into the world of sports supplements you'll know what to look for, I'll also tell you what I take, when I take it, and for how long.

To start, the supplements I take vary depending upon where I am at in a training cycle.  When I am not preparing for a tournament I am usually eating more and looking to add mass to fuel strength gains, when I am getting ready for a tournament I am usually eating a little less, drinking more water, and taking different supplements.  Regardless of where I am in my training I take these supplements regularly. Glutamine-Akg, whey protein isolate, and ZMA (Zinc, Magnesium, Aspartate)

1) Glutamine.  Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in the skeletal muscle.  There are countless benefits of taking glutamine especially if you are regularly involved in intense training.  It is believed that when your muscles have an adequate supply of glutamine that your body spares your branched chain amino acid stores, and this leads to minimized muscle breakdown.  After your body has used its first source of energy, ATP, it then begins to look for other sources of energy like glucose, fats, and amino acids.  Your body uses glutamine readily to fuel your workouts, and this helps to prevent your body from breaking down it's own muscle tissue for fuel.  Glutamine plays an important role in HGH production, the digestive tract, and the immune system as well.  Your body uses glutamine to help create and maintain the lining of your stomach and intestines.  Some studies have shown that IV doses of glutamine eliminate stress ulcers in trauma patients.  Since your intestines readily absorb and use glutamine, to ensure your muscles are getting a good dose, some companies have started bonding the Glutamine to Akg and other transporters.  When the glutamine is bonded to Akg your intestines absorb the powder but cannot readily use it, it is then transferred to the cells of the body to be broken down into seperate molecules of glutamine and Akg.  Akg is a strong buffer and helps to clear lactic acid and ammonia from the muscle cells which can both inhibit muscle contraction.  Glutamine also plays a heavy role in the immune system where it helps to fuel the white blood cells that fight off foreign attackers in your body.  Through both the action of the glutamine and the Akg, you can experience: increased endurance, enhanced recovery, a healthy immune system, higher levels of HGH, and increased lean mass with decreased fat stores.  Since glutamine is a natural amino acid found in your body there is no known toxicity associated with glutamine supplementation.  It is recommended that you take glutamine 2-3 times per day in divided doses to equal between 10-15 grams daily.  I usually take 3 grams in each one of my post workout shakes which usually totals about 9 grams daily.

2) Whey protein.  Whey protein is a source of protein from cow's milk.  If you have ever opened a container of yogurt to find a watery subtance on top then you have seen whey protein, this liquid after being concentrated and processed become whey protein concentrate; if taken a step further in processing it can be refined into whey protein isolate, and finally it can be micronized or broken up into even snaller particles and called whey protein hydrosolate.  Since athletes have an increased need for protein whey has become a popular and convenient source of extra protein for many people.  Whey protein is very low fat (or fat free), free of carbohydrates, and whey protein isolates and hydrosolates are free of lactose as well.  Just one scoop of protein can often provide 20-30 grams of pure protein.  Whey protein supplementation has been shown to: increase protein syntheisis, promote lean muscle mass, decrease muscle wasting, strengthen the immune system (through increased production of gluthiaone), speed recovery after workouts, and increase levels of HGH, and IGF-1 (insulin like growth factor).  Whey protein has generally become a staple for elite and casual athletes alike.  Whey protein has the advantage of being highly bio-available, which means it is absorbed and assimilated extremely well by the body with little waste.  Another advantage is since it is often in powder or liquid form, it is extremely quick to digest.  Studies have shown a significant increase in protein snythesis if taken within 30 minutes of the end of a workout.  I usually take 25grams of whey protein after each workout, which usually totals about 75 grams of supplemental protein in the form of a whey protein isolate/concentrate 50%/50% mix.

3) ZMA.  Zinc, Magnesium, and Vitamin B6 compose this popular sports training supplement.  This trio of nutrients is used up extensively during exercise.  Zinc and magnesium are both lost through sweat, and B6 is readily used up in order to create energy for your body to function.  Zinc plays an important role in: the immune system, production of testosterone, liver health, and reproductive organ health.  Magnesium plays a whole host of roles on the human body.  You can read more about the benefits of magnesium supplementation here ><
Vitamin B6 plays a big role in the metabolism of fats and carbohydrates into energy and is used heavily especially in those that are very physically active.  ZMA (a combination of these three nutrients in highly absorbed forms), has been shown in some studies to increase free testosterone up to 30% although, the results have been mixed.  Many people also report decreased recovery time, more restful and deeper sleep, reduced cramps, increased sex drive, and higher growth hormone levels.  For best results ZMA must be taken on an empty stomach (at least 2 hours after a meal, and at least 30 minutes before a meal) right before going to bed for the night.  Calcium blocks the absorption of zinc so it is important to avoid taking any supplements containing calcium with ZMA.  I take 3 capsules of ZMA (one dose) each night 30 minutes before going to sleep.

These three base supplements are not supplement cocktails of large amounts of unproven ingredients in a mystery proprietary blend, they are simple and well known supplements with a significant amount of research to back up each one.  I've found through time that often the simpler things are often the more effective they are as well.  In the future I will cover supplements I use or have used to gain lean muscle mass, and also supplements I use or have used to shed fat in the past.

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Thanks! Shane A Sorensen.
I like this information.
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As a sports person, one thing you need to consider when you are taking nutritional supplements is the value of the food you eat. Combining a proper diet and supplements is the most vital way to achieve a healthy lifestyle for athletes. Make a healthier food option by consuming a variety of protein-packed food like meat, eggs, beans and nuts. Adequate supply of protein is essential because it increases strength and endurance. Likewise, protein helps in rebuilding your muscles after long hard trainings. Drinking plenty of water and sports beverages are also required to since a lot of fluids are lost when you are sweating.

Absolutely Serena. We cannot put tons of low quality foods into our bodies, and then expect supplements to make everything ok. Likewise, we can't neglect to eat high quality protein sources like those you mentioned, or fruits and vegetables. Supplements are just that, things to supplement an already healthy and balanced diet. Thanks for the comment!

Good post, thanks for using this web space to discuss this Glutamine subject.
Fortunately this topic is also presented in your blog, assuring a decent coverage.
Keep up the good work !

Thanks for sharing so much useful information with us on different sports supplements such as Glutamine, Whey protein and ZMA. Athletes can definitely gather a lot of useful tips from your blog.

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This is very detailed and very informative blog. It really very helpful. Thank you so much for sharing. I really like the content.
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I will defiantly suggest to my all friends to use this supplement. on 100 whey gold standard

This article helped me a lot. Thanks for that.

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