In part one of his interview with John Berardi, Marc McDougal asked about nutrigenomics, The Dave Tate Project, and the Precision Nutrition Body Transformation Contest. This week Marc and John discuss supplementation, training clients, and a few choice pieces of research.
I don’t know. I mean, I come from an athletic background, having run track and field, played university football, and rugby. And after my involvement in these sports, I needed something else to let out my competitive urges. Having always enjoyed my time in the weight room, bodybuilding and power lifting were a natural progression. Nowadays, though, I’ve actually enjoyed spending time doing “athletic stuff” again. Now, don’t get me wrong, I still train hard in the gym. But I’m also out on the track sprinting, doing plyos, and doing other explosive work.
So I think that if get back into competitive sport, I might go back to my roots – competing at the masters level in track and field – or something like that. Scary enough, I’ll be able to compete at the masters level in just one year’s time.
To me, there’s no such thing as a “supplement for advanced clients”. Supplement use should always be based on a needs analysis. After all, why use a testosterone booster if your testosterone is already high? Why use a fat burner if your metabolism is already very fast? Why use something to boost carbohydrate tolerance if your carb tolerance is already high? Instead of taking supplements just because they’re supposed to help with x, y, or z, my clients go through a needs analysis and then take supplements (if necessary) based on their individual needs. Say, for example, they’re an intermittent sport athlete who builds up high levels of lactate. If so, I may have them on Beta Alanine to buffer intracellular acidity and a special cocktail of bicarbonates, citrates, phosphates, and lactates to pull hydrogen ions out of the muscle during high acid conditions. And say, for example, I’ve got an athlete who has a hard time sleeping at night during periods of high volume exercise and/or low food intake. If so, I have them start a combination of Valerian Root and Phosphatidylserine. On this combo, they sleep like babies. Or let’s say, for example, I’ve got a client who’s having trouble with fat loss and they’re taking anti-depressants. If so, I have them start a combination of green tea extract and CLA. This combo has been shown to block the fat gain effects of anti-depressants and stimulate fat loss progress. So, again, these might be considered “advanced supplements.” But, they’re only used with a specific purpose in mind. If you’re not a high lactate athlete, why use Beta Alanine? And if you’re sleeping fine, why use the combo above?
Well, there’s not a ton of research on this. However, from what’s available, this isn’t a big leap to take. The current literature demonstrates that sleep quality is negatively impacted by high cortisol concentrations. Therefore if cortisol is high, it’s both difficult to fall asleep and, when you do fall asleep, REM is negatively impacted. Since PS is effective in cortisol regulation/suppression, it can help control evening cortisol levels, leading to better sleep quality. So says the theory anyway. However, theory aside, it seems to really work. Again, nearly every person I’ve worked with that’s following high volume training and/or a calorie restricted diet (AND has complained of sleep problems) has benefited in terms of sleep quality when taking PS – one dose in the evening (5-6pm) and one dose 60 min before bed. Now, I want to be clear – not every insomniac benefits from PS. It’s only those with high evening cortisol levels.
A study was published a few months back in Lipids in Health and Disease showing that a specific combination of CLA and Green Tea extract was of real benefit for individuals taking antipsychotics. Here’s the abstract:
This study is currently being repeated using more typical anti-depressants and the results are similar.
My supplement regimen is pretty basic. I use a basic milk protein blend for my Super Shakes, a high potency fish oil supplement, a green food product, a workout recovery drink, and creatine. Again, for a recreational exerciser like me, this, plus a solid diet, is plenty for maintaining a good body composition. And BTW, I’m about 5’8” and maintain a sub 10% body fat year-round at a body weight of about 185lbs. Here are a couple of pics.
Depends on the clients…for most of my explosive strength and power athletes, absolutely. My favorite combo is piracetam, green tea extract, caffeine, tyrosine, choline, vitamin B6, and policosanol. This combo is designed to facilitate both CNS performance as well as CNS recovery. And my explosive athletes definitely notice a difference.
We mostly use phosphatidylcholine. Lecithin also works in a pinch.
Policosanol is currently used to lower LDL cholesterol concentrations in the blood. However, it also impacts acetylcholine transport across the neuromuscular junction. This makes it an excellent adjunct alongside choline since choline may increase ach levels and policosanol may increase ach release and/or binding at the neuromuscular junction. The net result is likely a reduction in reaction time.
At Precision Nutrition, we separate people into 3 different nutritional levels. You can call this their “nutritional age,” “nutritional level,” whatever.
Note: I always make sure people are careful in calling level 1 clients “beginners” or level 3 clients “advanced” since it’s easy to confuse training experience with nutrition experience. After all, I’ve got high level athletes (Olympians and Pros) who are barely Level 1 clients when it comes to nutrition. And I’ve got beginners in the gym who are strong Level 3 clients when it comes to nutrition. So there’s not a direct correlation between training experience and nutrition level.
The idea of workout nutrition has advanced quite a bit in the last few 5 years or so. Originally, the idea was to load up on high quality protein and carbohydrate after training to accelerate recovery and boost protein synthesis.
Then, based on some interesting research, coaches started using fast-digesting protein, fast digesting carbs and BCAA in post-workout drinks taken immediately after training. Finally, many of us found that this combination of nutrients seemed to work best when ingested during the workout, instead of after. To date, this latter intervention has pretty much been the state of the art in the research world and in the athletic world. Sure, you can find some dissenters. However, I imagine these folks don’t spend much time with elite athletes. Hang in elite circles and you’ll find many athletes following some form of workout and post-workout nutrition strategy that involves fast digesting protein/carb drinks. Indeed, all my athletes now use the following guidelines:
And for my athletes trying to gain weight, I have the do the following:
If you’re training smart, eating well the rest of the day, and using workout nutrition appropriately, there’s not a lot else on the nutrition or supplement side that’ll appreciably boost recovery or post-exercise protein synthesis.
Well, my dissertation work focused on the topic of workout nutrition. And the bulk of it focused on nutrition for workout recovery. Simply put, we were interested in examining whether protein/carbohydrate nutrition taken in early during recovery would lead to better (vs. carbohydrate alone) muscle glycogen resynthesis, better subsequent performance, and a lessened stress hormone response during recovery and subsequent exercise. The first in a series of studies looking at this was done at Yale University with Dr. Tom Price in the Department of Diagnostic Radiology. And in it we used nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy to determine whether liquid carbohydrate-protein (C+P) supplements, ingested early during recovery, enhance muscle glycogen resynthesis versus isoenergetic liquid carbohydrate (CHO) supplements, given early or an isoenergetic solid meal given later during recovery (PLB). Here’s the abstract:
This study was published in the ACSM’s MSSE journal – here’s the citation:
Interestingly, although we didn’t find a performance effect in this study, we admittedly used a crude performance indicator. As a result, we followed-up with a better study looking at performance specifically. And we saw some pretty amazing results: Here’s the abstract:
This study has been submitted and is pending review – so look for it in the pipeline soon. Now, for those weight trainers in the group, we also replicated this study using a resistance training model in which we had subjects do a strenuous bout of isokinetic leg extensions and 3 different speeds. Although performance 6h and 24h later was not impacted by the nutritional intervention, muscle soreness was reduced and mood (as assessed by the Profile of Mood States) was improved at both time increments when the subjects ingested C+P vs. CHO and PLB. Interestingly, we saw the same thing in the performance studies so there seems to be some mental benefits and reduction in muscle soreness (as well as attenuation of CK – a marker of muscle damage) associated with the C+P drinks.
I’ll tell you once it’s been accepted for publication.
About John Berardi, PhD, CSCS
Dr. John Berardi is one of North America’s most popular and respected authorities on fitness and nutrition. He has made his mark as a leading researcher in the field of exercise and nutritional science, as a widely read author and writer, and as a coach and trainer who has helped thousands of men and women, from soccer moms to Olympic athletes, achieve their health, fitness and performance goals. John earned a doctorate in Exercise and Nutritional Biochemistry from the University of Western Ontario and currently serves as an adjunct assistant professor of Exercise Science at the University of Texas . He also provides nutrition consultation services for athletes and sports teams including a number of Canadian Olympic programs (Speed Skating, Bobsleigh, Skeleton, Cross Country Skiing, Alpine Skiing, Canoe, and Kayak), the University of Texas Longhorns, and numerous individual professional football, hockey, and baseball players. He has published more than 300 articles in major health and fitness magazines, including Men’s Health, Men’s Fitness, Women’s Health, Oxygen, and more. He is the coauthor, with Michael Mejia, of Scrawny to Brawny (Rodale, 2005), and author of The Metabolism Advantage (Rodale, 2006). He also contributed special sections to Nutrient Timing, by John Ivy, Ph.D., and Robert Portman, Ph.D. (Basic Health, 2004). In 2005, John created a performance nutrition program for athletes and fitness enthusiasts called Precision Nutrition. The Precision Nutrition kit includes a nutrition guidebook, a recipe book, and instructional CDs and DVDs, and is also supported by the well-attended Precision Nutrition online forums. This program is designed to teach the principles of optimum sports nutrition to everyone from elite athletes to the recreationally active and has made a huge splash in the sports nutrition industry. Formerly, John was a competitive powerlifter, bodybuilder, track and field sprinter, and rugby player. In addition to his doctoral degree, he holds certification as a strength and conditioning specialist from the National Strength and Conditioning Association. President, Precision Nutritionwww.precisionnutrition.com