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Cocktail Anyone?


Enhance your workout performance by starting right with key pre-workout supplement combinations.

Pre-workout energy powders have lately been finding their way into the supplementation regimens of many bodybuilders. These products commonly contain a blend of stimulants and strength-promoting ingredients that are marketed as synergists (ie., when combined, the benefits of each ingredient are enhanced). Until recently, however, scientific research and studies to test the acute effectiveness of these increasingly popular supplements have been very limited.

In a study published in Nutritional Research, scientists from the University of Oklahoma tested a supposed synergistic cocktail of commonly prescribed pre-workout supplements to try and determine whether the effects on anaerobic performance and aerobic power were in fact augmented. The cocktail contained a mixture of C. sinensis, arginine AKG, Kre-Alkayn, citrulline AKG, Eleutherococcus senticosus, taurine, leucine, R. rosea, sodium chloride, valine, isoleucine, caffeine and whey protein concentrate. After familiarisation and baseline testing 10 subjects completed two test days that included running to exhaustion on a treadmill. On days one and two only, subjects drank either the pre-workout supplement mixture or an isocaloric placebo 30 minutes before the exercise session. The scientists reported participants who consumed the pre-workout energy supplement experienced substantially increased anaerobic running capacity and time to exhaustion, with no difference recorded in aerobic power s compared to the control group. The one shortcoming of this study is that the authors did not test each ingredient in the pre-workout cocktail separately, but they speculated caffeine was likely the main ingredient to play a key role in creasing anaerobic performance among the test group.

The ingredients in the test supplement from this particular study are very common to most pre-workout formulas you will see on the market today. Although this study was quite short and the design simple, the findings are important. Based on the outcome subjects experienced, pre-workout energy powders seem to boost workout intensity the day you start taking them. Thje fact that subjects underwent treadmill running during testing may put into question the applicability of the findings to bodybuilders focused primarily on weight training. However, because the supplement mixture caused better performance only under anaerobic conditions (and had no effect on aerobic power), the study lends much credence to the use of supplements before resistance training to enhance energy and strength.


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Cocoa: An Inexpensive And Simple Way To Reduce Muscle Soreness


Many athletes load up their post-work out drinks with various supplements, such as Vitargo and branched amino acids, powder, creatine, and other ingredients to enhance muscle recuperation. I will recommend you a simple and affordable ingredient that may work just as well.

Post-exercise soreness is caused by muscle damage, and several studies have shown that antioxidant dietary supplementation can protect again muscle damage. Many bodybuilders take their fish oils religiously to reduce inflammation and capitalise on the health benefits of Omega-3 fatty acids. However, there are countless scientific studies that suggest that there is one ingredient which is constantly reported to prevent free radical damage, reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, and is also a potent vasodilator, and now it can reduce muscle soreness.

What is it about cocoa that it is good for our hearts? Cocoa contains more antioxidants than just about any other food you can find. Antioxidants are necessary because they reduce a harmful process called free radical production. Free radicals cause damage to cells, and the antioxidants are like the bodyguards of the cell, and prevent damage. Cocoa contains a class of antioxidants called flavonoids, which are also found in teas and red wine. In fact, cocoa contains more antioxidants and flavonoids than all teas and red wines. Flavonoids may not only have a direct antioxidant effect, but they also have a sparing effect on other antioxidants such as vitamins C and E.

It should be no surprise that cocoa has been used since ancient times as a medicinal remedy for preventing chronic diseases. Cocoa does have some pharmacological properties, such as the ability to increase a substance in the blood called nitric oxide, and it also makes blood less sticky. Nitric oxide causes blood vessels to expand and allows for more oxygen-rich blood to flow through our veins, while chocolate increases nitric oxide synthesis, which is good for the heart and blood vessels. Having sticky blood cells makes them more likely to adhere to the lining of your arteries, which is implicated in the in the pathogenesis of cardiovascular disease. Cocoa has ‘aspirin-like’ qualities in that it makes you blood less sticky and allows it to flow easily through the arteries.

Interestingly, a previous study reported that chocolate milk is an effective recovery aid after exercise. The study found similar increases in time to exhaustion and total work for individuals who consumed chocolate milk, compared to a traditional electrolyte-replenishing drink, subsequent to exhaustive exercise. Other reported benefits of cocoa are decreases in oxidative stress markers, and muscle soreness increases in performance output.

In a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, cocoa or a placebo was added to athletes’ protein/carbohydrate sports drink. The researchers used pure cocoa powder and found that subjects consuming the cocoa powder had a decrease in post-exercise soreness, compared to the placebo group. The researchers thought the antioxidants in cocoa reduced free radical damage and enhanced muscle recuperation. Adding pure cocoa is a great way to boost antioxidants, as well as reduce cardiovascular diseases. So be sure to use pure cocoa powder without the extra sugar and crap that is in most cocoa powders.


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High Fructose Intake Beneficial In Athletes


High-fructose corn syrup is the principal sweetening agent in most high-sugar soft drinks. Fructose provides the sweet taste in fruits. In sedentary people, it is linked to an increased risk of the metabolic syndrome (abdominal obesity, abnormal blood fats, high blood pressure, poor blood sugar regulation, inflammation and blood-clotting abnormalities). People consume about 300 more calories per day more than they did 30 years ago, largely because of an increased intake of fructose. A report published in Current Sports Medicine Reports, stated that a high fructose intake was beneficial for athletes. Fructose stimulates the digestion and promotes carbohydrate used during exercise, which are important for optimal performance. Intense training involves high energy expenditure, which protects athletes from the negative effects of fructose experienced by sedentary people.


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Carbohydrates Boost Performance As Soon as They Hit Your Mouth


Carbohydrates are the main source of fuels for muscular work during intense exercise above 65% of maximum effort. Carbohydrates are effective fuels for physical activity because they supply more energy per litre of oxygen consumed than fats or proteins. The nervous system senses carbohydrates as soon as they enter the mouth, and triggers the central nervous system to improve performance. The effect is not influenced by taste. For bodybuilders, using a carbohydrate mouth rinse might be helpful for promoting training intensity without increasing caloric intake.


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Caffeine Increases Growth Hormone Response To Weight Training


Many athletes take caffeine in the form of pills or energy drinks to enhance performance or energy levels during training. Caffeine stimulates adrenaline release and can improve the quality of workouts. A study from the Journal of Sports Science Medicine, found that caffeine (6 mgs per kilogram of bodyweight) increased growth hormone release for at least 30 minutes after weight training session. Caffeine increases blood fatty acid levels, which triggers increases in growth hormone. Caffeine might be a useful supplement because it increases strength and training intensity, and promotes a post-exercise anabolic response.