Tag Archives: fitness

front squat

Correct Squat Stance: How Wide, and How Low?

squat form

Here is an example of a shoulder-width stance.

Squats are a great exercise to strengthen the lower body and are fairly easy to incorporate into a workout.  However, as with most athletic and weight-lifting activities, form is incredibly important in completing the exercise correctly.  Improper form can result in injury or a lack of effectiveness, and no one wants to get hurt or waste his or her time working out incorrectly.

Squats can be particularly difficult to figure out the correct form because there is some debate over how to position the body.  Some people believe that a wider stance is more effective, while others think that the feet should be shoulder-width apart.

Aside from that, many disagree on how deep squats should go—is parallel good enough, or should a squatter try to get the deepest squat possible?  All of these conflicting opinions can be confusing, but squats are actually fairly easy to sort out.

Figuring out Squat Stance

wide stance squat

Here is an example of a wide-stance squat.

Positioning the legs in the first step in a successful squat.  First of all, stance depends on the physical composition of the person exercising.  Some people may be more comfortable with a wider stance, and women in particular may choose a wide stance or point their feet out more because their hips are turned out further.  Having a wide stance does not necessarily mean that the squat is being done incorrectly.

The most important part is choosing a stance that allows for proper form.  Keeping the feet closer to shoulder distance apart will work the legs and quads more, while a wider stance is better for working out the glutes.  Either of these choices is fine, depending on which area of the body you want to work harder.  The most important aspects are keeping the torso in the correct position, keeping your feet firmly planted on the floor, tracking your knees and feet in the same direction, and making sure your knees do not extend past your toes.

How Low Should You Go?

While it is a popular opinion that “real” squats require lowering the body to the ground, this is not necessary for an effective squat.  The key with squats is to go below parallel—to have the line of the hips go beneath the line of the knees (unless you have a medical condition that prevents this).  Deeper squats are not necessarily more successful, and in some cases may be a detriment [1]. Once again, the key is keeping correct form.

Sacrificing form for a deeper squat means that the exercise is not as effective as it would be with a shallower squat and perfect form.  Letting the knees splay out or cave in, putting too much pressure on the toes, or bending the lower back can all result in injury.  It’s best to stay comfortable with your stance and depth, rather than trying for a wider or deeper squat and risking injury.

Getting the Most Out of Your Squats

When you have the correct form down, squats should be an effective way to build lower body strength and muscle.  Once comfortable with squats, you may want to look into supplementing with branched-chain amino acids to improve performance and muscle gains [2].  These supplements can give your workout an extra kick, and help you see better results faster.

You may also find yourself struggling with muscle soreness after an intense lower-body workout. Try taking a citrulline malate supplement to reduce muscle soreness or protein powder to support your muscles with proper nutrition.

Sources

  1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16194981
  2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20601741
whey milk protein

How Much Protein Does a Person Need?

The body needs plenty of protein because protein builds muscle and aids in a variety of internal processes. While most Americans eat plenty of protein in their diets, getting the right kind of protein is just as important as how much is consumed. Different proteins play different roles in muscle growth, immunity, hormone regulation, and energy production. Whey proteins have become popular as a supplement because they can be used for muscle building as well as a variety of other health benefits.

What are Whey Protein Supplements?

whey protein builds muscle

The first step to building a great physique is to make sure you’re ingesting enough protein.

As the name suggests, whey protein comes from whey, a by-product of cheese production. It contains all of the soluble proteins and nutrients from milk, but is dehydrated into a more convenient supplement form. Whey is generally available in three different forms: concentrates, isolates, and hydrosolates.

Concentrates still contain fats and lactose, but are less processed than other whey protein forms. Isolates have the fat and lactose removed and are made up of a higher percentage of pure protein. Hydrosolates are processed even further and metabolize more easily. All of the forms of whey protein can be used as a pre-workout supplement to increase gains in muscle mass (1).

The Benefits of Whey Protein

Whey protein is an incredibly popular supplement for bodybuilders due to its ability to help increase muscle mass and endurance and reduce body fat. It stimulates protein synthesis in the muscles, which means more muscle mass and more energy.

These proteins are also absorbed quickly, meaning that they start working faster than other supplements. Whey protein will increase blood flow to muscles, providing energy and allowing for a faster post-workout recovery. On top of the workout benefits, whey proteins contain leucine, a compound that helps the body to adapt to high levels of stress from exercise. Whey contains antioxidants that destroy free radicals, and also blocks harmful carcinogens from affecting the body. Using whey protein not only helps during and after workouts, but also protects your body from outside threats.

How Much Whey Protein to Take

whey protein shake

Whey protein makes for a delicious pre or post-workout snack.

Ultimately, the body needs at minimum between 46 and 56 grams of protein per day, and whey protein is a great way to reach, or even exceed, that number. Proteins from food are necessary to keep the body running, but adding whey protein has the added benefit of being a workout booster.

A whey protein supplement can be taken before workouts, usually in an amount of 10 to 20 grams, but can also be taken post-workout at 20 to 40 grams. It can also be taken in between meals for an extra boost. The amount of protein needed by the body is actually fairly small; supplementing with whey protein means that you get extra nutrients, more power, and more strength.

1. Burke, Darren G. “The Effect of Whey Protein Supplementation With and Without Creatine Monohydrate Combined With Resistance Training on Lean Tissue Mass and Muscle Strength”. International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism. Human Kinetics Publishers, Inc.

Nitric oxide works to increase muscle size

Nitric Oxide Supplements

Nitric oxide is a chemical compound made of nitrogen and oxygen. As a supplement, it is widely used to increase muscle size and endurance. Nitric oxide increases blood flow, which can lead to increased muscle gains.

How does Nitric Oxide Work? What is it and Why is it Important?

Nitric oxide benefits

Nitric oxide can help with muscle strength and growth.

Nitric oxide is a very important biological messenger, and a versatile molecule. It is synthesized from arginine, oxygen, and NADPH. Blood vessels use this compound to relax the surrounding muscles, which makes it a vasodilator.

Its main role in the body is regulating blood flow and communication between different organ systems such as the brain, lungs, and kidneys. Nitric oxide can diffuse freely across membranes, which makes it effective and fast-acting. It can also affect the body’s release of adrenaline and other hormones. Therefore, it can help muscles get more nutrients while under physical stress.

Nitric Oxide Benefits

nitric oxide muscle growth

Nitric oxide can help you set new personal records.

The vasodilation and hormone increasing effects of nitric oxide are believed to make it effective as a supplement for greater endurance and muscle gains. Those supplementing with nitric oxide often report more muscle growth after workouts, and less fatigue. The ability to workout harder and faster means that muscle growth can happen more quickly, and it is easier to increase workout length and intensity when more blood is flowing freely to the muscles. Taking nitric oxide can help increase the anaerobic threshold, the point at which lactic acid builds up in muscles and causes fatigue.

Nitric oxide supplements, and those that increase the influx of nitric oxide to the body, have been shown effective in increasing blood flow in active men [1]. Some supplements contain a precursor to nitric oxide, which is then synthesized in the body after ingestion. Either supplement will rapidly diffuse into the body and increase blood flow quickly.

Taking Nitric Oxide Supplements

The best way to take nitric oxide supplements is by mixing the supplement powder with a beverage and consuming it pre-workout. It is best to follow the dosage instructions that come with the specific supplement, since most nitric oxide powders will contain other compounds that help the nitric oxide to absorb. Supplements commonly contain arginine, citrulline, and other strength boosters that help the efficacy of nitric oxide.

Nitric Oxide Supplement Side Effects

There are many N.O. boosting supplements available on the market, so side effects may vary depending on the supplement. The most common side effects include, nausea, changes in blood pressure, and decreased dopamine levels. There are several supplements to take that may counteract the side effects of nitric oxide supplements. Fish Oil maintains healthy blood pressure levels and mucuna pruriens increases dopamine levels.

Sources

1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20885188

knee joint pain

Cissus Quadrangularis vs Glucosamine for Joint Pain?

Glucosamine and cissus quadrangularis are both commonly used to reduce joint pain and improve mobility. People with ongoing joint pain often want to be able to remain active, and natural supplements are a great way to reduce pain and accomplish daily tasks. Glucosamine was long lauded as the best supplement for joint pain, but recently the extract of cissus quadrangularis, an herb from India, has gained popularity as an effective joint pain reliever.

What are Glucosamine and Cissus?

cissus quadrangularis

The cissus quadrangularis plant resembles a skinny cactus.

Glucosamine is an amino sugar that is found in shellfish, bone marrow, and fungi. It is made by hydrolyzing chitin, a structural component of cells. It is a precursor to glycosaminoglycans, which are key components of joint cartilage. Taking glucosamine may then help to repair damaged joints.

Cissus comes from the cissus quadrangularis plant, a member of the grape family that is found across Southeast Asia and Africa. It was often used in classical medicine to help heal injuries, and is taken as a supplement to aid in anything from healing broken bones to stopping gastric distress [1].

It helps to quicken the healing process because it has antibacterial and antifungal properties, and also works as an antioxidant. Cissus supplements taken for joint pain will help to improve joint function by lessening pain and revitalizing injured joints.

Cissus Quadrangularis vs Glucosamine?

jogging joint pain

Jogging can cause joint pain. Use supplements to counteract the effect.

Because glucosamine is found naturally in healthy cartilage, it makes sense to take for joint pain. Glucosamine supplements are a natural way to improve the quality of life for someone having joint problems. It is thought to be particularly effective for knee pain, and it is often taken with chondroitin, a compound derived from cartilage that allows for faster pain relief [2].

Cissus has many benefits, since it has so many uses. Besides relieving joint pain, it helps general healing processes and can relieve a variety of minor ailments. It has even been used for a weight loss supplement. Either supplement is great for joint pain relief, but cissus can also be used for other health benefits.

Taking Supplements for Joint Pain

Glucosamine is most effective in amounts of 500 mg 3 times daily, thought the full 1.5 gram amount can be taken at once. Cissus is recommended in amounts between 500 and 1000 mg, though it depends on the concentration of the plant extract. It is always best to start with a lower dosage, because cissus can take some time to have its full pain-relieving effect.

1. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378874105006653
2. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/glucosamine/NS_patient-glucosamine

Pictured above is creatine being measure in a spoon. This is not a recommended way to measure your creatine dosage.

Creatine as a Nootropic Supplement

The odds are that you have heard of creatine and its association with athletic performance. Creatine is a popular choice for athletes thanks to its effect on lean muscle mass and its energy-boosting properties.

But did you know that creatine also has nootropic properties? The benefits of creatine are myriad: increased memory, reduced fatigue, improved mood, and even reduced brain fog. Let’s take a closer look at the mental benefits you’ll receive from taking creatine supplement.

Memory Benefits of Creatine

Creatine can be used a nootropic to boost brain power.

Creatine is a proven brain-booster!

Creatine is  known to increase your short-term memory and this increase is one of the most well-documented benefits of the compound. Supporting studies abound: improvements in memory span[1], improvements in working memory[2], and prevention of memory decline [3]. Scientifically, the results are in: creatine is great for improving memory.

So how exactly does a supplement known for its physical benefits do so much for the brain? Creatine primarily works by increasing your synthesis of adenosine triphosphate, or ATP [4]. ATP is a nucleotide that functions as the primary source of energy for cells.

In other words, the more ATP that you’re synthesizing, the more fully and efficiently your cells can transmit information. Think of ATP as the “fuel” for the neurological vehicles taxiing information around your brain. Higher levels of ATP make calling to mind that elusive word or thought that much easier.

Creatine for Fatigue

Creatine’s ability to enhance your production of ATP also ties directly into another one of its main benefits: fatigue reduction. Studies have found that creatine’s abilities to reduce fatigue and boost energy are apparent even at low doses [5]. Since increased ATP boosts cellular performance, creatine is at least partially responsible for this energy boost, but there is more to the picture than that.

After a successful study on creatine’s mental-fatigue-reducing effects, a team of researchers measured an increase of cerebral-oxygenated hemoglobin in the brains of the test subjects. This increase was evidence of increased oxygen use by the brain. In other words, creatine primes your brain for improved performance.

Creatine for Mood

Creatine's nootropic side effects include increased mood.

Creatine can boost your mood.

Studies have found that taking a creatine supplement has mood boosting properties both on its own and synergistically with prescription anti-depressants [6]. This synergy too ties into creatine’s boosted production of ATP. Beyond that, creatine has also been shown to reduce some of the side effects of sleep deprivation, such as irritability [7].

Additionally, boosted energy levels means reduced stress making it much easier for your better moods to shine through. While the exact benefits of creatine for mood are not fully understood, what we know so far seems promising.

Creatine for Brain Fog

One of the bottom lines of nootropics is that, one way or another, you are probably going to deal with brain fog. Some people might be looking to alleviate existing brain fog, while for others brain fog may be caused by a nootropic.

Either way, the verdict is clear: having a gummed-up haze hampering your mental performance is no fun. The great news is that here too a creatine supplement will benefit you. Here is the impressive part: even this benefit is tied to creatine’s ATP production, albeit from a slightly different way. Increased ATP improves your brain’s ability to block negative effects by allowing the brain to more quickly deal with any deficiencies.  A study found that creatine supplementation improved the subject’s fluid intelligence, or their ability to solve problems and derive meaning from abstract knowledge [8]. Or in other words, directly counteract the effects of brain fog.

Bottom Line: Creatine as a Nootropic

Creatine is a harmless amino acid with many benefits for the keen-eyed nootropic user looking for something to top off their stack. As long as you keep your dosing at safe levels, creatine has tremendous potential for improving your mental performance. Not only that, but thanks to the ways a creatine supplement will benefit your mood and fatigue, creatine is an almost sure-fire way to improve your all-around quality of life.

SOURCES:

  1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14561278
  2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21118604
  3. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17828627
  4. http://www.researchgate.net/publication/44694983_Dietary_supplementation_of_creatine_monohydrate_reduces_the_human_fMRI_BOLD_signal
  5. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11985880
  6. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22864465
  7. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16416332
  8. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1691485/
caffeine is found in coffee

Pre-Workout Supplements: Do I need anything more than caffeine or am I wasting money?

With the flashy marketing and high-pressure sales tactics favored by supplement companies, pre-workout supplements may come off as snake oil. And to be honest, some pre-workout supplements are ineffective, overpriced, and full of nasty filler that will do more harm than good (see: belly fat).

That being said, there are a few supplements that I highly suggest including in your pre-workout blend in addition to caffeine. We all know that caffeine supplements can boost your energy levels, but what other supplements can have an impact on your workout? Let’s take a look at my three favorite pre-workout supplements other than caffeine: L-arginine, creatine, and beta-alanine.

L-arginine

 

Muscle growth

L-arginine can help with muscle growth

L-arginine is an amino acid that shows significant promise in increasing natural production of growth hormone, boosting testosterone levels, and reducing fatigue. L-arginine is the precursor to nitric oxide, and increased nitric oxide production is a great thing for exercise.Why? Nitric oxide is responsible for vasodilation.

When vasodilation occurs, blood vessels widen. Wider blood vessels equal better blood flow. Better blood flow equals more effective oxygen transportation. More oxygen equals more intense workouts. It is as simple as that! Also, for you men out there, I can report that l-arginine is a big boost in the bedroom!

Creatine

Creatine can be added to protein shakes

Creatine can be added to protein shakes

If you’ve spent any time in the workout community, you’ve heard about creatine. Creatine is an organic acid found in many foods, especially fish. Creatine powder’s main function is to supply energy to the cells, in particularly to muscle.

If you eat meat on a regular basis, your body probably has a standard supply of creatine. If you don’t… well, I hate to tell you, but you’re probably deficient. That being said, even meat eaters can benefit from a creatine supplement regimen because the more creatine your body has, the more energy is supplied to your cells. More energy translates into more intense and productive workouts. Great deal, right?

Beta-Alanine

Beta-alanine is another amino acid, and if you’ve ever taken a pre-workout blend before, then you know EXACTLY what beta-alanine does. You know that tingly, powerful, stimulant feeling you get after taking your pre-workout? That’s beta-alanine doing its job.

 

Beta-alanine can help increase muscular endurance

Beta-alanine can help increase muscular endurance

Beta-alanine is all-around my favorite supplement other than caffeine because it helps with weight-loss, stamina, and muscle recovery. It is an all-in-one miracle supplement, and I say that with 100 percent sincerity.

Conclusion

So, knowing that these three supplements (plus caffeine) are decent is one thing, but how do you go about introducing them to your workouts? You can do what I do, which is buy the bulk supplement powders and cap my own pre-workout pills, but I recognize that the capping process is labor intensive and some of you may have busy schedules. So what do you do? Simple, check out the nutrition labels on pre-workout blends and keep an eye out for these supplements. Speaking from experience, both MusclePharm Assault and Cellucor C4 are good choices.

Musclepharm Assault

Assault Pre Workout & ON Whey Protein

The abundance of workout supplements on the market makes it difficult to decide which supplements are the best to take. There are supplements for energy, recovery, stress, relaxation, and so on, and in some instances these supplements are marketed as having benefits in multiple categories.

In order to avoid taking too much or too little of any particular supplement, it is important to know what you are ingesting! This point may seem simple, but you would be amazed at the number of people who blindly take supplements without first doing a little research.

So, in the pursuit of research and bettering your knowledge of workout supplements, I’ve constructed a barebones guide to two of the most popular workout supplements on the market: MusclePharm Assault and Optimum Nutrition Whey Protein, a pre-workout supplement and a post-workout supplement respectively. By using this stack of supplements, you’ll see a marked improvement in many facets of your fitness.

MusclePharm Assault Pre Workout

MusclePharm Assault

MP Assault Pre Workout Ingredient Label

You may have heard of MusclePharm Assault at some point because the brand sponsors many UFC fighters. Assault is a heavily-marketed supplement, but that does not mean that it is lacking in solid ingredients. However, taking a glance at the ingredients label, you may have noticed that there are MANY ingredients—so many ingredients that you may feel overwhelmed.

So here’s a breakdown of what I believe are the most-important ingredients included and what they can do for you as a pre-workout booster:

Muscle Pharm Assault’s Most Effective Ingredients

While Assault also features other ingredients, I chose to highlight the supplements that I believe are the most useful and important when it comes to a pre-workout supplement. In combination, these supplements will give you an explosive and impressive workout.

And once you’ve completed a grueling workout session courtesy of Assault, you’ll want a high-quality recovery supplement to allow for muscle growth and repair. That’s where Optimum Nutrition Whey Protein comes into play.

Optimum Nutrition Whey Protein

ON Gold-Standard Whey Protein

Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Whey

 

Post-workout recovery supplements are integral to your success as an athlete. Your muscles need protein in order to repair themselves after the beating that you give them during a workout. In my opinion, the best post-workout supplement by far is Whey Protein. And I’ll give my word that Optimum Nutrition makes some of the best Whey Protein that I have ever consumed.

Taking a look at the nutrition label, you can see that this protein is very barebones. And that is a great thing! In a post-workout shake, the less ingredients the better. You don’t want a lot of filler or other crap that is bad for you: you want to actually benefit from the exercise you just completed.

Optimum Nutrition Whey Protein Ingredients

ON Whey ingredients list

ON Whey ingredients list

Optimum Nutrition Whey Ingredients include: Whey isolate, whey concentrate, and whey peptides (plus other ingredients depending on which flavor you choose to purchase).

The blend of different types of whey is a great feature because each type digests slightly differently and at a slightly different pace, thus feeding your muscles over a longer period of time. In addition, some people digest different types of whey better than other types, so having a variety ensures that you are actually receiving the protein that you need.

Using Musclepharm Assault and Optimum Nutrition Whey Protein to get the Most Out of Your Workout

This stack is not only useful, but it is easy to use as the blends are pre-mixed for you. While the price may be higher to buy these pre-made supplements than to buy bulk powders and create your own, the convenience and ease of use makes this pre-workout/post-workout combination a surefire hit in my book.

a great preworkout supplement

Cellucor C4 Inredients: What are they and how do they work?

Cellucor C4 is one of the most-popular pre-workout supplements on the market. It features a concentrated formula and small scoop sizes, both of which attract consumers by the droves. Not only that, but C4 packs a wallop in the gym and will give you some of the best workouts of your life. But why is C4 so effective?

Let’s take a look at the ingredients label and briefly highlight what each major ingredient does:

C4 Pre Workout Ingredients

  • Beta Alanine powder: Improves carnosine levels and reduces fatigue
  • Creatine Nitrate: Improves water retention and boosts muscle growth
  • Arginine AKG: Improves protein synthesis and libido levels
  • Vitamin C supplement: Improves overall wellbeing but also shows promise in boosting energy levels
  • N-Acetyl-L-Tyrosine (NALT) supplement: Increase the production and efficiency of neurotransmitters
  • Caffeine Anhydrous powder: Boosts energy levels and increases focus
  • Mucuna Pruriens: Increases the brain’s capacity to produce neurotransmitters and protein
  • Bitter Orange: Boosts energy and attacks the body’s fat stores
  • Niacinamide: Increases energy levels and focus
  • Folic Acid: Helps the body make new cells
  • Vitamin B12: Helps with normal functioning of the brain and nervous system
C4 Ingredients

The ingredients list: Man’s best friend!

Whew. Quite a list. Individually, these supplements promise and deliver on any number of benefits to the body. But taken on their own, you may not notice much of an effect, or if you do, it will be minute.

However, taken altogether prior to a workout, the synergistic effect is tremendous. Your energy levels skyrocket, your focus hones, and your body sets itself on a one-way train to muscle growth and fat loss.

You really cannot ask for a better combination of ingredients in a pre-workout supplement, but what if you don’t have the cash on hand to buy a major name brand blend?

This is where bulk supplements come into play. Nearly all of these ingredients are available for purchase in bulk. At first, bulk prices may seem steep, but when you break down cost by serving, that is where you will see the real savings. If you are looking to invest in long term pre workout supplementation, check out this break down of Cellucor C4.

Supplement Serving size Amount for at least 100 Servings Cost
Beta Alanine 2g 100g $4.79
Creatine 3-5g 500g* $8.89
Arginine 3-5g 500g* $15.95
Vitamin C 250mg 25g $3.25
NALT 350g 50g* $3.25
Caffeine Anhydrous 50mg 5g $0.99
Mucuna Pruriens 250mg 25g $6.40
Bitter Orange 10-20mg 5g* $3.42
Niacinamide 1 capsule 100 capsules ~$4.00
Folic Acid 1 capsule 250 capsules* ~$3.00
Vitamin B12 1 capsule 100 capsules ~$5.00
Total Cost $55.69
Total Per Serving $0.56

*500g Creatine provides 100-166 servings
*500g Arginine provides 100-166 servings
*50g NALT provides 142 servings
*5g Bitter Orange provides 250-500 servings
*250 capsules of folic acid is 250 servings

The largest variant Cellucor offers contains 60 servings and costs $49.99, which breaks down to $0.83 per serving. However, as you can see by buying bulk, you save $0.27 per serving with some extra left over supplement to do with as you please.

This may not seem like very much, but if you are committed to this particular blend, then you can increase your bulk purchases to save even more. For example, if you bought enough to create 250 servings that would cost you around $106 dollars, breaking down to $0.42 per serving and still leaving you plenty of left overs of multiple supplements. That is a savings of $0.41 per serving. Looking at it long term, buying 250 servings at a time will last you about 8 months and save you over $100.

It comes down to cost versus convenience. It is clearly more convenient to buy a premixed blend and call it a day. However, if you are on a budget, it is well worth your time to invest in a digital scale and some gelatin capsules as the DIY method clearly lands you some big savings.

Racetams with antioxidant properties help protect the brain

Protect and Enhance your Memory via Racetams with Antioxidant Properties

pwb-rust

Rust is a commonly-seen form of oxidation

Racetams are one of the most popular nootropic supplements available on the market today. Since the discovery of the prototypical racetam, piracetam powder, in the 1960’s, racetams have become well-known for their cognitive-enhancement abilities. However, many of them provide additional antioxidant benefits, making them even more useful.

So why would you want a supplement that boosts your brain power as well as provides antioxidant advantages? While it may seem like a strange combination, antioxidants protect cells, including those within the brain. If your brain cells suffer damage from oxidation, reason stands that your memory could be similarly affected.

Adding a memory enhancer on top of an antioxidant might just be the smartest move you could make. So what are the racetams, how do they work, and which ones will provide you with a double dose of neuroprotection?

How Racetams Work

While the mechanism of action behind racetams isn’t completely understood, it is believed that they work by encouraging the formation of new synapses and enhancing synaptic plasticity, two factors that are critical in memory formation and learning.

Acetylcholine is a common neurotransmitter

Acetylcholine is a common neurotransmitter

These actions are accomplished by inhibiting the breakdown of acetylcholine within the brain; acetylcholine is the neurotransmitter primarily responsible for learning. Thus, by maintaining high levels of acetylcholine, cognitive enhancement is greatly increased.

Benefits of Racetams

Racetams are able to improve long and short-term memory and have been found to have logic, speech, and sensory-enhancement properties. Additional benefits include improved athletic performance and focus which makes them a favorite among fitness enthusiasts.

Racetams with Antioxidant Properties

Some racetams such as Piracetam have some antioxidant properties. Let’s first discuss a little bit about the process of oxidation and the role of antioxidants in our bodies.

Oxidation is defined as the interaction between oxygen molecules and all the other substances they may meet. The result of such a process in the body is chain reactions that can damage cells.

Examples of oxidation include the browning of an apple when cut open, and the rusting of metals. Simply put, antioxidants are molecules that inhibit the oxidation of other molecules. Antioxidants are widely used in dietary supplements. Free-radical theory states that the effects of aging are a result of the body’s inability to counteract oxidative damage.

Racetams have been tested on rats as well as humans

Racetams have been tested on rats as well as humans

These facts bring us to racetams and their anti-oxidation properties. Piracetam is one of the racetams that seems to posses such properties. In a study performed to assess Piracetam’s antioxidant effects on a rat brain, it was determined that Piracetam had the potential to scavenge free radicals. Free radicals cause the body to age more quickly and contribute to cellular damage, including within the brain, so preventing this damage improves longevity as well as memory.

In human experiments conducted to measure the effects of one dose of Piracetam on 12 healthy volunteers, it was determined that this single dosage affected the natural electrical activity that occurs on the scalp.

How about the other racetams like Pramiracetam, Oxiracetam, and Aniracetam? Although there hasn’t been ample research done on the antioxidant properties of these other racetams, considering the fact that they have very similar mechanisms of action with Piracetam, it is possible that they too posses antioxidant properties.

resveratrol can help fight the effects of aging

How does Resveratrol affect Testosterone and what other Benefits does Resveratrol Produce?

What is Resveratrol?

Resveratrol is a compound found in the skins of red grapes, berries, and other fruits. It is thought to act as a powerful antioxidant with a strong potential for fighting the effects of aging. These effects are largely due to the fact that this supplement helps to promote the increased production of something known as sirtuins. Sirtuins are enzymes involved in the aging process that are thought to increase the activity of the cells’ mitochondria. There are also additional research studies which indicate that resveratrol supplements may act as a neuroprotective substance by helping to protect against memory loss. There is even new research suggesting that resveratrol may help to increase testosterone levels.

How does Resveratrol affect Health?

Many people are interested in using a resveratrol supplement because it seems to be able to increase overall health. Because it functions as an antioxidant, resveratrol serves to make almost every major organ in the body run better. The elimination of free radicals is also quite important as the removal helps to reduce inflammation.

Another important benefit associated with resveratrol is its fighting of the effects of aging. Resveratrol covers just about everything from helping to protect the heart to making it easier to lose weight. One of the ways in which these benefits occur is by the activation of so-called anti-aging genes like the master gene, P53. There have been a number of experiments conducted on bacteria, fish, worms, and mice that have shown positive increases on lifespan based on activation of P53 by resveratrol. In some cases, this supplement has been able to extend lifespan up to twice the normal length. Of course, while there are huge differences between humans and mice or worms, in many cases we do have very similar genes. This similarity is giving research scientists hope that many of these health benefits can transfer over, especially in the area of longevity.

How does Resveratrol affect Testosterone?

There is some exciting new research into the effects of resveratrol on testosterone. Recent studies do seem to support that resveratrol affects testosterone, although more studies are needed. The researchers seem to think the reasons for this effect are two-fold. First, resveratrol inhibits aromatase, which is the main enzyme responsible for the production of estrogen. Second, resveratrol also seems to inhibit the body’s estrogen receptor.

As the body’s level of estrogen production is limited, resveratrol will help to balance out hormone levels and in the process increase testosterone. This increase is beneficial on a number of different levels. Not only will this hormone help sexual function, but it also helps to regulate red blood cell production, bone density, and even muscle mass. There may even be a role for this supplement to play in producing better emotional states, especially in those who are already experiencing lowered levels of testosterone.

What do Studies say about Resveratrol and Testosterone?

A 2008 Korean study examined the effects of Resveratrol supplementation on the New Zealand white rabbit, corpus cavernosum. The researchers were looking to measure ex-vivo penile erection and in-vivo sperm counts and quality. The in-vivo study measured the reproductive organ weights, blood testosterone levels, testicular histopathology, and sperm counts. It also examined and measured the epididymal sperm motility and deformity.

For the in-vivo study, mice were given a dose of resveratrol at 50 mg/kg for 28 days. The ultimate results were interesting, showing no increases in body weight, reproductive organ weight, or testicular microscopic findings. But, they did show increases in blood testosterone concentration of 51.6 percent, testicular sperm counts of 15.8 percent, and epididymal sperm motility by 23.3 percent. Incidentally, all of these effects were achieved without any significant influence on sperm deformity.

How does Resveratrol Work?

A 2012 National Institutes of Health study into the effects of resveratrol seems to have helped cast a bit of light into how this supplement might work. The supplement works not only as an anti-inflammatory compound (which testing had pretty much proven at this point anyway), but also as a genetic manipulator through both direct and indirect chemical pathways. It also helps to block the action of a muscle enzyme known as PDE4 that causes cell degradation. This supplement also appears to bind to many different types of proteins, which shows that there may be the potential for new help for heart disease, diabetes, memory loss, and more.

What is a Helpful Dose of Resveratrol?

In order to really have most of the desired effects, not only an increase in testosterone, you should be taking resveratrol every day. The recommended dosage level for resveratrol is 1000 mg per day or more depending on if there is a specific condition you are trying to find support for or protect against. Typical sources for your resveratrol supplements include Japanese knotwood or red grapes, with the Japanese blend being superiors (if you can find it).

Resveratrol supplement is also available in a powdered form, which can be taken with meals. The idea with your supplement schedule here is to use resveratrol every day with meals. It might take a little time before noticing results such as regulating and increasing testosterone levels and improving mood.

What else does Resveratrol do?

Resveratrol is also considered to help protect the heart against all types of damage. Part of this protection is immediately tied to resveratrol’s ability to work as an antioxidant supplement, helping to remove free radicals from the body and lowering the levels of inflammation. Inflammation can be stressful and detrimental to the overall cardiovascular system.

You will also note that a lot of the existing research into this supplement is still centered on the fight against cancer. There may actually be a role for some of these anti-cancer effects through the estrogen response systems, as discussed above.