Author Archives: Matt Byrne

testosterone

What Your Workout Supplements Say About You

You might be the normal person who just takes supplements to give your body an edge or make the most of your workout. You might also be one of the whack-jobs that will take any supplement they can get their hands on no matter how insane it sounds. “Dehydrated deer penis? I’m in!” Either way, the supplements you take say a lot about you as a person. Here are some examples of the claims that people who take the following supplements believe, and the truth about them.

Testosterone Boosters

testosteroneThe Claim: Right now, you are weak. You are small. You are a tiny, pathetic wimp. Here, let me open that jar of sissy sauce for you. You make me sick. If you took Tribulus or ZMA powder or drank a D-Aspartic Acid Slurpee before every workout, you would be pumped to the max!

The Truth: No longer do you have to worry about all that stuff in your house that was unbroken, because now it’s a smashed heap thanks to your uncontrollable rage. Your hormones are all out of whack and your reproductive organs now look like something from a circus sideshow.

Warning: Testosterone may or may not cause head to spontaneously combust. Refer to photo on the left as evidence. 

Iron

The Claim: Dude, Iron is metal that your body needs to crank up your muscle mass. Do you want to be the bionic man or not? The reason you are so pale and flimsy is because you aren’t chewing on enough nails. Get this into your body and you’ll be able to catch a bullet. You’ll be Tony Stark, only way hotter and more yoked out.

The Truth: Unless you are a hard-core, dancing in the moonlight, praise-the-earth mother vegan, then you are getting enough iron from eating meat. Cramming more into your system will probably give you heart disease, which is great for your workouts if you like throwing clots, getting mouth to mouth from some sweaty beast at the gym, or the pick-me-up you’ll get when the EMT’s hit you with the defibrillators.

Creatine

creatine water weightThe Claim: You’re going to get massive! Huge! You’ll be ripped as hell and able to toss a Volkswagen 20 yards. You won’t fit through doors and will have to bust through walls like the Kool-Aid man. Oh Yeah! One day they will try to build a statue to honor your body but will run out of gold because you are too swole.

The Truth: You’ll gain weight all right, but most of it will settle right on your gut, your thighs, your glutes, and everywhere else. You’ll be able to start keeping spare change in your extra chins and injure innocent bystanders with the fat flap under your arm. You won’t bust through a wall, they will have to cut it open for the crane to pull you out of your house.

Glucosamine

The Claim: Your joints will be so damn healthy, they will last long after you are dead. You will have to sign a special form that allows them to harvest your joints to give them to sprinters in Kenya with bad knees. You’ll never again feel the pain of a hard workout and you’ll still be able to run 40 yards in 4.4 seconds when you’re 120.

The Truth: Glucosamine only works on arthritis, not joint pain from exercise. You know what works better? Don’t over train your joints. A picture of you dead lifting a Shetland pony might go viral on Instagram, but no matter how much glucosamine you’ve taken in, your knees are still going to ache.

Bitter Orange

The Claim: You will have to sign up for a 24 hour gym because you will have so much energy that you’ll have to burn it off lifting and sculpting your body to perfection. They’ll start charging you when you wear out all the equipment. When working out 7 days a week isn’t enough for you you’ll petition congress to add Pumpday onto the calendar.

The Truth: The only thing Bitter Orange is really good for is fighting fungal infections. It will help with jock itch and athlete’s foot, but there is no reason to eat it.

Glutamine

The Claim: You’ll be able to recover from a workout so fast that you will actually go back in time to before the workout and be ready to do it all over again! You’ll wake up with muscles in places you didn’t even work. Who are these pansies that have to work different muscle groups on different days? Pop some glutamine and do some squats.

The Truth: It will make your liver and intestines huge. Those organs love Glutamine and suck it up every chance they get. You’ll finally make all your modelling dreams come true when they put you on the cover of both Bloated Liver Monthly and Intestine Fancy.

supplements for women

Pre Workout Supplements for Women

Equality is a beautiful thing, but not when it comes to pre-workout supplements. When it comes to working out, men and women are very different and their bodies have very different needs. Women don’t usually want something that is going to increase their hair growth, drop their voice, or shrink their bust, which are precisely what some supplements will do. For women there are a range of better pre-workout supplement options that are ideal.

1. Whey Protein

Whey protein is important for everyone, but it is especially useful for a woman’s body pre-workout. It will help increase blood flow and supply unbonded proteins that can be used to build lean muscle.

For a woman’s body, whey protein often takes the place of mass-building supplements like creatine. Creatine can cause severe water-retention as well as bloating, which no woman enjoys, while whey protein just improves energy levels for longer workouts rather than strenuous ones that add bulk.

2. EGCG (Epigallocatechin Gallate) and Caffeine

These two items should be used in conjunction for those that are looking to burn fat. EGCG comes from green tea extract and is one of the best things a woman can put into her body. The European Journal of Clinical Nutrition reports that it helps with fat oxidization so as you move you are shedding more weight.

EGCG to Combat the Jitters

The reason to combine EGCG with caffeine is to reduce the amount of caffeine you put in your body without sacrificing energy. When you combine approximately 300mg of EGCG with 200mg of caffeine you get a fat-burning energy boost that doesn’t have the same crash as taking caffeine alone. It also removes the caffeine jitters, so you won’t suddenly find your hands shaking halfway through a set.

3. Beta-Alanine

As you exercise your body produces hydrogen ions which raise the acidity in your muscles. The more acidic they become, the more tired and sore they are later. Taking Beta-Alanine can fight off these hydrogen ions.

The way Beta-Alanine works is through helping the body create more carnosine in your blood stream. Carnosine helps clean out hydrogen ions so by making more of it, your muscles won’t tire as quickly and won’t be nearly as sore down the line. This means longer workouts with higher intensity and less recovery time. Check out the video below for more information.

4. Calcium

Women suffer greatly from exercise-induced calcium loss. The harder you train, the worse this can become, which means taking a calcium supplement is of dire importance both in the short and long terms.

By taking it immediately before a workout your body has more calcium to help rebuild your bones as some is being used to keep your body in action. This will improve your overall bone density so that even over time you won’t suffer nearly as much calcium loss.

The true benefits of this will come up much later in life when the dreaded menopause beast looms large on the horizon and your risk of osteoporosis increases.

5. Iron

iron supplementsThe University of Texas did a study of some of the most impressive female athletes in the world. What they discovered that was even though these women were otherwise in peak physical condition, they were iron deficient.

Iron is imperative in moving oxygen to the muscles and to the brain. Anyone that doesn’t have sufficient iron will suffer from lethargy, moodiness, increased injuries, lower cognitive function, and loss of interest in exercise. These become especially pronounced in women who typically consume less meat and therefore less iron than men.

A study done by the U.S. Army found that female recruits who took iron supplements not only performed better athletically, they also had more energy and improved test scores showing it makes you stronger and smarter. You can’t lose.

What to Avoid

The biggest thing to avoid for most women is creatine. The reason for this is creatine builds muscle by working with testosterone. Since women don’t produce as much testosterone as men, they don’t get nearly as many benefits from creatine. Oh, but they do get almost all of the side effects, so there’s that bonus.

Women should also avoid D-Aspartic Acid, Tribulus Terristris, and anything else that claims it will help increase your testosterone levels. Even if your intent is to gain muscle mass, the effects on mood and hormonal composition can be dangerous.

Word to the Wise

Before you take any supplement or pre-workout protein drink, check the label. Even if they claim to be “correctly balanced for a woman” the company has often just slapped a pink label on a supplement meant for a man.

preworkout safety

Workout Supplement Cautions

DHEA (Dehydroepiandrosterone)

DHEA is a common supplement used by bodybuilders because of its effect on testosterone and strength. DHEA levels drop beginning at the age of 30, causing decreased muscle mass and libido.

DHEA seems to be a great addition to a workout stack, but there are several reported side effects. Due to the fluctuation of testosterone levels, DHEA can cause psychological disturbances including anger and insomnia. Supplementing with DHEA can also cause gender-specific alterations such as shrinking of testes or unwanted hair growth.

DHEA is likely safe when taken as directed; however, it is important to contact a physician prior to use.

Vitamins C and E

VitaminC[1]These vitamins are found in most workout supplements acting as natural antioxidants. Both vitamins C and E offer many benefits including weight management support, healthy skin, and improved immune function.

It is safe to use vitamins C and E; however, it is much more beneficial to consume these vitamins through whole foods rather than supplements. Overdoing these supplements can result in fewer mitochondria meaning less energy and growth.

Tribulus Terrestris

Tribulus Terrestris is a common ingredient in testosterone boosters and pre workout supplements. Tribulus claims state that the supplement increases testosterone levels, thus improving strength, muscle mass, and sex drive.

There have been no dangerous side effects reported from Tribulus supplementation, so it appears safe to consume. The problem with Tribulus is that there are very little studies to back up the claims stating this supplement supports testosterone or performance enhancement.

Yohimbe

Yohimbine is a popular supplement taken to increase energy and fat loss, which is why yohimbine is a common ingredient in weight loss and pre workout supplements.

This supplement needs to be treated just like other stimulants. Too many stimulating supplements can cause anxiety, high blood pressure, increased heart rate, and insomnia. When using supplements in this category, it is always wise to start at the lowest dose possible to assess tolerance.

Effective and Safe Pre-Workout Supplements

Whey Protein Make sure you have some whey protein and some Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAA) like isoleucine, leucine, and valine. The whey is the same protein you needed when you were a child to help you grow big and strong while the BCAA’s help your body use the protein more effectively and reduce delayed muscle soreness.

While some workout supplements have approximately 900,000 ingredients, taking the time to make sure you know what each one is and what it does can not only give you a better workout, it can save your life. Also remember that any of the beneficial ingredients – such as caffeine – can be harmful if taken in improper amounts.

The Bottom Line

Taking supplements daily is an excellent way to feel better and work harder; however, some dietary supplements do have side effects. It is always recommended to speak with a doctor before taking any dietary supplement.