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Basic supplement tips needed


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I'm trying to gather information about supplementation. Obviously I'm not going to walk into GNC and go for something with some frightening packaging and crap ingredients. The reality though is I've plateaud and am finding it difficult to gain weight, even though I've been increasing workout intensity.

 

I guess I want to understand if it can all be done with food or if there are some natural equivalents to all the stuff unnatural bodybuilders may do, like all that creatine, no2, chromium picolinate, blah blah. If there are some of those that could help me, it would be great to hear. Or if I need to forget all those pills and just focus on food based, then I'll do that. I just don't want to miss out on good natural supplements.

 

I will talk to my naturopath before I actually add anything new. I just want a list of stuff to research more into.

 

I'm 5'10, 164, 14% bodyfat male, late 30s. I'm thinking if I could get to 175 and have 10-12% bodyfat, I would look so incredible and feel so strong. I went from 148 to 164 over last 8 months but then stalled out.

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Here is a long list of an answer to your question.

1.If you're looking for fully "natural" supplements, i believe maca root extract would be your best bet. It has a relatively high number of phytosterols in it which cause a hormone response in the body that some say, and i think there is a study that backs this up, aids in muscle growth. It also is said to give an energy boost, and have hormone balancing effects as well

2. If you are open to synthetically produced supplements, creatine could probably help you reach your goals. The only drawback is there is the possibility that creatine can be nephro-toxic if you are not properly hydrated, or have pre-existing kidney conditions.

3. L-glutamine is a synthetically produced amino acid. Glutamine peptides, which your body metabolizes from l-glutamine, are one of the amino acids that is highly involved in muscle growth and regeneration. There is also evidence that it has a positiveimpact on the levels of human growth hormone released in the body. This would probably be your best bet as a synthetic supplement, as vegan protein powders and protein sources tend to have relatively low concentrations of this particular amino acid.

4. l-arginine is like l-glutamine in that it is a synthetically produced amino acid; however, it is relatively common in vegan protein sources, especially in yellow pea protein.

5. Zinc, magnesium, and vitamin B-6 taken in combination before bedtime, in the morning, and midday supposedly increase testosterone levels, or something like that. It is commercially available under the name zma, but a quality calcium-magnesium-zinc supplement and a separate B-6 supplement will be essentially the same thing

6. Dextrose post workout in a doseage of 35-70 grams (1/4 cup to 1/2 a cup) post workout restores glycogen stores in the muscles, and provides fuel for recovery. Though protein is seen as the most important aspect of muscle growth, simple carbohydrates are also equally important if you follow an otherwise low-carb diet, or are experiencing burnout during workouts. If you are worried about weight gain because of the high amount of carbohydrates, much of this will be metabolized and used to feed muscles, just ensure it is used post workout relatively quickly.

7. Rhodiola rosea is an herb, actually the root of one, used in many parts of scandinavia and western slavic regions for everything from increasing vitality to aiding depression. It is an maoi, so it should not be used if you take an ssri, or another prescription maoi. It works through causing an increase of dopamine and serotonin in the body. Some claim it also has slightly anabolic effects, though i do not believe any studies corroborate this claim.

8. Yohimbe is another herb. It is a vascodilator and a relatively powerful stimulant. There is some evidence that it increases muscle mass when used with resistance training, and has been used by bodybuilders for several years, and is also an ingredient in some muscle gain supplements. On a side note, being a vascodilator, it has a similar effect as viagra.

9. BCAA (branched chain amino acids) are essentially building blocks for muscle growth. I don't know much about them, other than that they are metabolized directly by muscle tissue, which is unlike normal protein and amino acid supplements, as these are primarily metabolized by the liver. The benefit to being metabolized by the muscle tissue itself is that it allows for a much more speedy delivery of amino acids.

10. NO boosters, stuff like NO-explode the like: I included these because I think they should be avoided at all costs, mainly because of their monetary cost. There has been no conclusive evidence that demonstrates that nitric oxide works as a vascodilator, and thus the claim that it aids in muscle growth is fairly hard to swallow, as this is the proposed function that companies claim enable it to speed muscle growth. Likewise, many of these products contain creatine, caffeine, and various sugars which probably play a greater role in increased muscle growth than the nitric oxide boosters themselves.

 

As for foods, go for fruits and sugary edibles like dates and dried fruits before and after workouts. The simple carbs contained in them will aid in restoring glycogen in muscle tissue post workout, which means the muscle tissue will recover faster. Also, eat often, and eat a lot, as calories can be your friend if you've hit a plateau. Also, follow every workout with a recovery drink that contains protein and carbohydrates, as well as some form of electrolyte. On a side note, coconut water is a good addition to a post workout shake as it has beneficial saturated fat and electrolytes. Aim for foods that have a decent ratio of fats to carbs to protein in your post workout meals. Sweet potatoes / yams cooked in coconut oil with pumpkin seeds sprinkled on top is one of my favorite things to eat following a post workout shake. The sweet potatoes not only contain protein and carbs, but also a range of vitamins and phytosterols. Coconut oil is a good source of saturated fats, and also provides an extra source of energy for muscle regeneration. The pumpkin seeds contain protein, and also elicit a hormone response in the body due to some chemical in them.

 

Additionally, you may want to switch up your routine. Depending on what you do now, you might want to switch to the dog shit routine (search it, others have posted forums on it) or do some other routine change. Depending on how long you have been lifting, you may have hit your genetic plateu, but this is unlikely. Hopefully some of this may help, and that at least some of this response was what you were looking for. peace.

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Just want to ditto on what lobsterific said.

 

And of course add that chlorella/spirulina/barley/cereal greens are also good to add for aid in recovery and immune boostering properties. I also wanted to comment that more sleep is good too. I added a 20 minute power nap during the day and recovery was faster. Sleep also increases Growth Hormone.

 

A new supplement that I am currently taking is Resveratrol (along with Grape Seed extract, Grape skin extract, and Pine Bark). This is to slow down the ageing processes of metabolites that are produced from the mitochondria during metabolism to increase energy expenditures during intense exercise (ROS particles and the build up of NADH repressing sirtuins, SRT!).

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Thanks for the positive feedback lobsterrific and gaia. Another option is to take a week or two, or even a month off from lifting and engage yourself in some other form of physical activity, like hiking or swimming. When you get back into resistance training, your overall strength would probably be less than it is at the moment, but it will quickly return, and it is likely you will be able to add on lots of muscle mass quickly just as one does when he/she first begins lifting.

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Thank you so much for detailed replies! I was hoping I came to the right place and I did. I'm learning that being a vegetarian bodybuilder is excellent because it requires deep knowledge and focus. Also I'm questioning my goals around size and your answers make me refocus on goal of health. I'll say that I don't know my goal weight anymore. I think I want to look at it another way. Exercise hard and smart. Eat smart. Rest. Supplement well. And just see what happens. Maybe I'm the right weight but my body fat goes down. Maybe I'll gain weight and drop body fat. I'm excited to find out. What actually appeals to me most beyond weight is being very defined. I'm going to take this thread and bring it to my naturopath before I start any of them that are more intricate. And to be honest, I've really been thinking about being vegan. I just know it's going to be so much hard work with making sure I get the right nutrition. I'm going to start with better nutrition as a vegetarian and try to have more and more vegan days. Some days I am vegan. Really all it is is egg whites and cottage cheese and whey protein. I'm really close. I just need the self-discipline and knowledge. And seeing the level of knowledge in this thread is an inspiration. Thank you!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Most supplements dont do anything apart from turn your pee interesting colours and leave you with an empty wallet! i don't really think supplements should be any different for a bodybuilder than a normal vegan. however..

I think all vegans should take creatine EVERY day as we don't get any from our diet and it's dirt cheap! I think also an EPA and DHA supplement would be beneficial, here's a good vegan one but I'm scouring the net for anything cheaper so it anyone finds anything please let me know!

http://www.v-pure.com/

Contrary to popular belief, the omega 3 in flax seed isn't converted or used easily by the body. I eat 2tbsp of ground flax a day but I still want to supplement.

Selinium would be a good investment, but dont buy pills, just eat 1 or 2 brazil nuts a day..no more because its highly toxic!

Obviously B12 supplement, even if you think you're getting enough it pays to be safe!

Also, don't invest in expensive post workout supplements touted to stop muscle catabolism. All you need is a good strength vitamin c tab after your workout, get the cheapest available as they are all more or less the same. I take 1g after my workout.

i also think BCAA's are a waste of money. I didn't notice any effect when I took them apart from the fact that I was skint! Cheap supplements like wheatgerm and polen are loaded with BCAA's, you don't need to buy expensive supplements..its all industry hype. Vegans tend to eat a lot more fruit and veg than your average meat eater so you should have no problem getting sufficient BCAA just from your everyday diet..

Like I said, supplementing is an individual thing but I've tried lots of supplements and the only thing i really had results from was creatine. you don't have to load it, just take 5g, a big teaspoonful, a day. Remember creatine iss the most extensively researched ssports supplement available. Any side effects it may have, such as nausea, are only really a problem when you are loading creatine, 5g a day shouldn't be a problem for anyone.

I also noticed there was reference in this thread to coconut oil..I suppose you are referring to the medium chain trigylcerides it contains? This used to be thought to protect and preserve muscle fibres, particuarly during a diet. However, extensive research has proved that it has absolutely no effect whatsoever and is just another saturated fat...I've got a bottle of MCT which was rather expensive so i wish i'd researched it better before buying it. Something I've learnt is to look for research done by universities and professionals when thinking about buying supplements and not by the people pushing the supplements..NEVER believe any crap you read in bodybuilding magazines and the like!

Oh..and I forgot to say vitamin D of course if you don't live in a sunny climate or take fortified soy milk etc. I don't know od any vegan vitamin D food sources! Your body produces it naturally if there is enough sun, but in northern climates, especially in winter you really should supplement!

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Exercise INTELLIGENTLY is more important thn killing yourself inthe gym. Overtraining is the commonest mistake. This article gives excellent advice about cardio http://www.wannabebig.com/training/general-physical-preparedness-core-strength-and-conditioning/how-to-do-cardio-if-you-must/

You should also drastically cut back on your carbs if you want to get ripped and get more calories from protein and especially fat to keep hunger at bay.

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Most supplements dont do anything apart from turn your pee interesting colours and leave you with an empty wallet! i don't really think supplements should be any different for a bodybuilder than a normal vegan. however..

I think all vegans should take creatine EVERY day as we don't get any from our diet and it's dirt cheap! I think also an EPA and DHA supplement would be beneficial, here's a good vegan one but I'm scouring the net for anything cheaper so it anyone finds anything please let me know!

http://www.v-pure.com/

Contrary to popular belief, the omega 3 in flax seed isn't converted or used easily by the body. I eat 2tbsp of ground flax a day but I still want to supplement.

Selinium would be a good investment, but dont buy pills, just eat 1 or 2 brazil nuts a day..no more because its highly toxic!

Obviously B12 supplement, even if you think you're getting enough it pays to be safe!

Also, don't invest in expensive post workout supplements touted to stop muscle catabolism. All you need is a good strength vitamin c tab after your workout, get the cheapest available as they are all more or less the same. I take 1g after my workout.

i also think BCAA's are a waste of money. I didn't notice any effect when I took them apart from the fact that I was skint! Cheap supplements like wheatgerm and polen are loaded with BCAA's, you don't need to buy expensive supplements..its all industry hype. Vegans tend to eat a lot more fruit and veg than your average meat eater so you should have no problem getting sufficient BCAA just from your everyday diet..

Like I said, supplementing is an individual thing but I've tried lots of supplements and the only thing i really had results from was creatine. you don't have to load it, just take 5g, a big teaspoonful, a day. Remember creatine iss the most extensively researched ssports supplement available. Any side effects it may have, such as nausea, are only really a problem when you are loading creatine, 5g a day shouldn't be a problem for anyone.

I also noticed there was reference in this thread to coconut oil..I suppose you are referring to the medium chain trigylcerides it contains? This used to be thought to protect and preserve muscle fibres, particuarly during a diet. However, extensive research has proved that it has absolutely no effect whatsoever and is just another saturated fat...I've got a bottle of MCT which was rather expensive so i wish i'd researched it better before buying it. Something I've learnt is to look for research done by universities and professionals when thinking about buying supplements and not by the people pushing the supplements..NEVER believe any crap you read in bodybuilding magazines and the like!

Oh..and I forgot to say vitamin D of course if you don't live in a sunny climate or take fortified soy milk etc. I don't know od any vegan vitamin D food sources! Your body produces it naturally if there is enough sun, but in northern climates, especially in winter you really should supplement!

 

There's nothing in this post I could possibly disagree with! Which means you're probably just as awesome as I am (just joking - nothing particularly awesome about me)

 

Unfortunately, we don't really have any of the good stuff here sold locally, and it would cost me a fortune if I was to order it all from abroad (especially the US). High-dose vitamin D, B12, creatine, calcium, vegan DHA/EPA, some protein powder... damn.

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  • 8 months later...

 

Unfortunately, we don't really have any of the good stuff here sold locally, and it would cost me a fortune if I was to order it all from abroad (especially the US). High-dose vitamin D, B12, creatine, calcium, vegan DHA/EPA, some protein powder... damn.

Have you tried ordering from the UK? i get stuff send over a few times a year from http://www.myprotein.co.uk/

it costs 10 to deliver within europe..upto 20 kilos I think. Also, the stuff is so cheap that it works out half the price of buying things locally. I buy my organic rice protein 5k at a time and it works out t about 10 quid a kilo which is great! Check it out!

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Some great responses so far but I have to disagree about BCAAs. They have been shown to prevent muscle breakdown during exercise, act as a muscle fuel, and reduce delayed onset muscle soreness. There's a good thread about them here: viewtopic.php?f=46&t=20525

Yeah..generally people trying to sell supplements like to show they work

BCAA tabs don't work well, they cost a fortune, and you can easily get them from your food. But if money is no problem for you, go for it!! However, I really think that supplements from foods in your diet are far superior to any tablets you can take!! If vitamin C tablets were expensive I'd eat an orange, but they are not so I take a tab for convenience after my workout...though I know the orange would be the better choice XD. Now as BCAA are so readily available in many of the foods we eat it seems stupid to buy some very expensive supplement just to have more BCAA's. In my experience even the best quilaty TABS don't do F**ck all!!

You can't go around taking every product you like the sound of or you'll end up rattleing! (been there, done that) Also, at they beginning its best to follow other peoples advise. There are lots of people on here who have been training many years, and have tried BCAA (such as myself) and the only noticable effect they achieved was getting poorer!! I'm not the only person saying that BCAA's are a waste of time, so maybe there's a reason behind so many people saying the same thing XD

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Also, at they beginning its best to follow other peoples advise. There are lots of people on here who have been training many years, and have tried BCAA (such as myself) and the only noticable effect they achieved was getting poorer!! I'm not the only person saying that BCAA's are a waste of time, so maybe there's a reason behind so many people saying the same thing XD
There are lots of people who have been training for years and think they do work quite well, so maybe there's something to that. Huzzah.

 

But, at the beginning it's probably not worth worrying about supplements at all. Get your diet and workouts down first, then you can dabble in supplements.

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Great thread, guys. I agree in that proper nutrtion from WHOLE foods (more raw the better) be in place before venturing into supplements, though they do/ can have their place. I'm a huge advocate of raw juicing and smoothies. It is a great way to easily access dense, raw nutrients that our bodies crave. I also enjoy the benefits of bee pollen, maca, cacao, hemp, chia, and flax seeds. I have noticed quicker recovery since taking them.

 

Pea and rice proteins are also staples of mine. ZMA and DHEA might be worth looking into as well. I have been taking ZMA for a few weeks now and mainly noticed that my sleep is deeper and more fufilling, which is a common effect from what I've read. I feel sleeping more soundly is mildly increasing my growth hormone levels and thus promoting more muscle repair. As noted earlier, malodextrin may help you in constructing a post workout drink as it is easily converted to glucose. Toss in a few bananas, pea protein, and creatine, and you have yourself great building blocks for muscle. Hope this helps

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  • 2 weeks later...

Like I said, I don't buy amino acids..but two things I add to my pre/post workout shakes are wheatgerm and bee polen. I know there is some controvesy over bee polen amongst vegans, but I know the man who sells me mine (frozen and fresh..not dried ), and I've seen how he keeps the bees and I'm a big fan of natural symbiosis, so I feel completely justified in taking it XD. However, you can always find "hand-collected" polen!!

Anyway, here is some info:

Wheatgerm : http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0KFY/is_2_26/ai_n24961803/

Polen : http://www.clothoonline.com/new_zealand_bee_polen.htm

I just read this too :

An amino acid comparison of whole egg, cow's milk (3.3% fat) and honeybee pollen has shown a 22.6% protein pollen to be a superior source of amino acids when measured by dry weight percentage of crude protein. Pollen was found to be particularly higher in lysine, leucine and glutamic acid than either cow's milk or whole egg.

The fat (lipid) content of pollen also varies widely. A mean value of 5% for bee gathered pollen is reported. An investigation of the fatty acid content of bee-gathered pollen found arachidonic, linoleic and linolenic acid to be present in the greatest amounts. Prostaglandins (hormone-like substances) can be derived from all three of these essential fatty acids, producing a wide range of metabolic effects.

The mineral content of pollen has been measured by turning the pollen to an ash in concentrated acid. The order of concentration of the principal minerals is potassium, phosphorus, and sulfur or calcium.

 

Selenium, sodium and magnesium have also been found in relatively high amounts. Of the many minerals found in trace amounts, iron is one of the most variable in concentration. Other minerals found in bee pollen are aluminum, copper, manganese, nickel, titanium, zinc, chlorine, silicon, boron, iodine, barium, strontium and molybdenum.

 

Vitamin levels in bee pollen have been studied. The pollens of most flowering plants are generally rich in the vitamin B complex vitamins. A statement made by Dr. Lunden, a noted researcher on pollen chemistry, said "it is apparent that pollens, as far as water soluble vitamins are concerned, must be regarded as a product of exceptionally high nutritive value."

 

Chemical analysis by Lunden has revealed pollen contains relatively high levels of thiamine, riboflavin, nicotinic acid, pyridoxine, pantothenic acid, biotin, folic acid and vitamin B-12.

The rest of this article is here : http://www.appliedhealth.com/nutri/page6991.php

There's a lot more stuff about this on the net, but both wheatgerm and polen are cheap and I feel that bumping up your amino acid intake using natural foods is far healthier, cheaper and effective than taking expensive supplements.

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