claims made for commercially marketed supplements for athletes
and fitness participants are not supported by current research
(Grunewald & Baily, 1993).
Many supplements may indeed "work" by means other
than that advertised by the manufacturer:
- Placebo (Ariel & Saville, 1972; Reimers, 1999)
- Statistically significant greater improvements were achieved
with "sugar pills" when subjects were led to believe
supplements will work
- Natural improvement
- Improvements achieved with exercise and normal diet
- Increased awareness of goals
- Money spent for supplements
- Ingestion regimen
- Possible awareness of peers' knowledge of supplements
- Behaviors strengthened
- Regular intense exercise
- Improved diet
- Extra calories
- If supplement provides calories
- Improved performance or muscle mass
- Regular food generally more economical
Authors note: ExRx.net does not necessarily condemn
the use of nutritional supplements. Food supplements may be rationalized
if a user otherwise feels it would be too difficult to plan and
prepare certain snacks or nutritious meals. Supplements can be
considered by those who perceive the convenience of supplements
occasionally outweigh the benefits of natural foods and are willing
to pay extra for this convenience. It is the author's opinion
that the advertisements of nutritional supplements are often
inaccurate, or misleading and are obviously designed to increase
sales of a marketed product.
Serrano's Top Picks for Muscle/Weight Gain
Creatine monohydrate is one of the few supplements supported
by scientific evidence. Creatine monohydrate can increase strength,
power, and muscular size (Stout, Eckerson, Housh, & Ebersole,
1999; Kirksey, et. al., 1999). Caffeine has been shown to counteract
the ergogenic effects of creatine monohydrate (Vandenberghe,
et. al., 1996). Carbohydrates (30-35 gm) ingested during creatine
monohydrate have been shown to augment the these ergogenic effects
(Stout, Eckerson, Housh, & Ebersole, 1999). Also see Creatine literature review.
Glucosamine and Chondroitin
older adults, Glucosamine and Chondroitin may reverse certain
degenerative joint problems and provide some relief of chronic
joint pain, depending on the injuries cause, severity, and location.
When used as a nutritional supplement, glucosamine and chondroitin
effects are as follows:
- may slow joint erosion and/or augment connective tissue repair
- stimulates proteoglycan synthesis, a subtype of growth factor
regulatory sugared proteins
- absorbs and incorporates into cartilage in about four hours
- reduces pain by up to about 70% in as little as 7 days
- effect persistent up to 30 days after cessation of supplementation
- more effective than ibuprofen with chronic use
- Other ingredients also found in some Glucosamine Sulfate
- Glucosamine Chlorhydrate, Chondroitin Sulfate, and Glycosaminoglycans.
- Glucosamine: an amino-sugar precursor of glycosaminoglycans
- Chondroitin Sulfate: a sugar-containing protein called a
- Both components of the connective tissues and extra-cellular
- Both compounds
- stabilize cell membrane structure during stress
- affect growth factor availability
- enhances the joint's ability to absorb shock
The efficacy of certain amino acids appears to be supported
by the scientific studies.
Newton RU, Dioguardi F (2003). The effects of amino acid
supplementation on muscular performance during resistance training
overreaching. J. Strength Cond Res. 17(2): 250-258.
Miller SL, Tipton KD, Chinkes DL, Wolf SE, Wolfe RR (2003).
Independent and Combined Effects of Amino Acids and Glucose after
Resistance Exercise.. Med Sci Sports Exerc, 35 (3), 449-455
Tipton KD, Ferrando AA, Phillips SM, Doyle D, Wolfe, RR
(1999). Postexercise net protein synthesis in human muscle from
orally administered amino acids. Am J Physiol, 276 (Endocrenol
Metab 39): E628-E634.
Gianni B, Tipton KD, Klein S, Wolfe RR (1997). An abundant
supply of amino acids enhances the metabolic effect of exercise
on muscle protein. Am J Physiol, 273 (Endocrenol Metab 36).
Vitamins and minerals can be kept for 6 years or more when
protected from the light, moisture, and heat.
The New York Public Library Desk Reference, 4th Ed, pg
HMB, or ß-Hydroxy ß-methylbutarate increased lean
body weight and reduced fat in cattle. The effects of the HMB
on muscle metabolism during weight training has been studied
in humans (Nissen, 1996). A 200 lb male may take 3 grams of HMB.
Glutamine is an amino
acid which can reduce the loss of muscle by blocking the receptor
sites for cortisol. Glutamine has been used for burn victims.
It has been proposed to be an essential amino acid during extreme
stress. Research regarding its efficiency in exercise is mixed
and inconclusive. No known adverse effects when taken in recommended
dosages of 5g to 20g in divided doses, before, during, and after
Taking Leucine (3g) along with carbohydrates and protein after
exercise may enhance recovery and muscle repair.
GABA or Gamma-AminoButyric Acid reportedly has caused reactions
in some people requiring emergency hospitalization.
Look for USP approval on vitamins that pass tests of quality,
strength and purity. (RxTV: February 25, 1998)
If a multi-vitamin is to be used, ingredients should not contain
significantly more than 100% of the RDA or DRI. Certain vitamins
and minerals compete for the same carrier molecule into the cell.
Also see micronutrients.