The acai berry is a palm tree fruit native to South America that has gained massive popularity of the last couple years and now falls into that revered category of super food. These reddish purple berries are rich in anthocyanins and flavonoids, which are powerful antioxidant compounds. Clinical studies have shown acai to have remarkably more antioxidant content than similar fruits such as cranberries, raspberries and even blueberries. Additionally, acai contains a potent blend of B vitamins, magnesium, copper, zinc, phosphorus, fiber and high concentrations of essential fatty acids. Ongoing studies are hinting of assistance with healthy circulation and some potential weight loss attributes as well.
Acetyl L-carnitine (ALC) appears to have multiple effects including helping to enhance fat-loss during exercise, reduced muscle breakdown, and improved alertness and cognitive function support. For example, impaired ALC uptake into the brain is associated with sensations of fatigue. The carnitine portion has been shown to help augment fat burning and may also speed recovery. Supplementation with ALC also appears to prevent the decline in testosterone levels that can occur with intense training. Thanks to its many research proven benefits, ALC is emerging as one of bodybuilding’s most multi-faceted supplements.
Collectively, acidophilus refers to a group of “friendly” bacteria, commonly termed probiotics and are added to milk products such as yogurt and kefir, or are available in capsule form. As a whole, probiotics are found normally in the human small intestine and often times produce vitamin K and lactase, a key enzyme in dairy digestion. When delivered as part of a more comprehensive and collective probiotic program, detectable digestive support is suggested. Acidophilus is commonly used in detoxification programs as well as with antibiotics to help keep a healthy balance within the body.
Adenosine Triphospage or ATP
ATP as a stand-alone supplement shows promise. One study looked at 14 days of oral adenosine 5’triphosphate (ATP) supplementation on indices of anaerobic capacity and muscular strength in 27 healthy men. They received either a low dose (150 mg) or high dose (225 mg) ATP, or match placebo. THe ATP group improved strength and repetitions to fatigue. It appears that enterically coated oral ATP supplementation may provide small, but beneficial, ergogenic effects on muscular strength under some treatment conditions.
Advantra-Z is the trademarked name for a standardized extract of the Chinese herb Citrus aurantium that contains the longstanding stimulant-based ingredient synephrine, which is known for its effect on beta-3 receptors. Similar to caffeine and other stimulants, synephrine has been used for years in numerous diet support products. Advantra-Z is considered a high quality version of standardized synephrine and can be found in several of the brands available in that category.
A metabolite of L-Arginine, agmatine is a biogenic amine that functions as a neutrotransmitter. In terms of its importance, the sulfate form of agmatine may help to support stronger, more direct muscle contraction (by way of its neuromodulatory effect on the mind-muscle connection). It has also been suggested that agmatine may support release of luteinizing hormone, which in turn stimulates male Leydig cells to produce tesosterone, although clinical study is still ongoing in this area.
Alpha-GPC is a water soluble source of choline that helps to increase acetylcholine levels. When acetylcholine levels are raised, a hormone called somatostatin is inhibited, which, in turn, can release growth hormone. When these levels are elevated, typically a rise in growth hormone is inevitable. This is a very complex chain of events but the theory is sound and shows promise for this novel ingredient. In addition, Alpha GPC can also help enhance mental function by increasing acetylcholine production.
Alpha Lipoic Acid is a potent antioxidant that is best known for its ability to neutralize free radicals, those chemicals that can destroy your cells’ membranes. ALA is also believed to improve the uptake of glucose and creatine into the muscle when it is consumed with simple carbs. ALA may also be useful for weight loss because it can help reduce the insulin response from carbohydrate consumption.
Aminogen^ is a potent digestive aid designed to help breakdown proteins into smaller peptides and amino acids. The patented plant-derived formula consists of protein-digesting enzymes from Aspergillus niger and Aspergillus oryzae. A recent clinical study showed that the presence of Aminogen^ in a whey protein supplement increased absorption as reflected by significantly increased plasma levels of amino acids. It was also shown to help decrease nitrogen excretion and therefore may allow for better retention of protein.
Arachidonic acid is an Omega-6 essential fatty acid (EFA) that is found naturally occurring in the diet, especially in animals products and highly processed vegetable oils. Omega-6 fatty acids are best consumed in a proper ratio with Omega-3 fatty acids that shouldn’t exceed 5:1. Many Americans typically consume Omega-6 fatty acids at a much higher ratio, however which research suggests that may have health consequences. Arachidonic acid is included in some pre-workout products due to its activity as a nitric-oxide precursor. Arachidonic acid is converted by the body to prostaglandins, which is turn up-regulates the enzyme NOS, which may support muscle pump.
Arginine is an essential amino acid that has a special function related to dilation (widening) of blood vessels. Studies consistently show that arginine increases levels of nitric oxide, which is the body’s most potent vasodilator. Keeping blood vessels healthy and wide open ensures optimal delivery of nutrients, hormones, and ozygen, while promoting the removal of waste products. Research shows that sunject taking quality arginine supplements have often experienced significant improvements in muscle strength.
Ashwagandha is an herb that has been used in India for thousands of years. Over 100 studies have investigated the effects of ashwagandha on a variety of physiological effects. Many of these studies support positive anti inflammatory, anti-stress, antioxidant, and immunomodulatory benefits. It has been described as having rejuvenating properties due to stimulating effects on the endocrine and central nervous systems.
Aspartic acid is a non-essential amino acid that plays a role in energy metabolism. In cells, aspartic acid assists in getting energy compounds into the mitochondria to produce ATP (Adenosine-5′-triphospate).
Technically classified as a legume, astragalus has been traditionally used in Chinese medicine for boosting the immune system. A study involving astagalus root showed an ability to help reduce fatigue during exercise, which is why it often appears in some thermogenic formulas or other workout supplements. As with any herbal formula, it is best to use a standardized extract to deliver a consistent potency.
Avena sativa is a wild oat grass that has been used for centuries for a broad spectrum of health benefits. Of most interest to fitness, Avena sativa has been demonstrated to free up testosterone from its bound state, making it more available to help promote muscle growth. In addition, some research suggest Avena sativa may increase LH (luteinizing hormone), which leads increased levels of testosterone.
Bacopa monniera is traditionally grown in marshy areas of India and extracts from this plant have been reported to exert cognitive enhancing effects in animals and humans. It is also known as a potential memory booster and may have antioxidant effects as well.
Banaba is a species of tree found primarily in the Philippines and Southeast Asia, whose leaves are traditionally used to promote overall health, including help with enhancing blood sugar levels. The active ingredient is believed to be corsolic acid. Studies have indicated that corosolic acid stimulates glucose transport into cells and helps improve insulin sensitivity.
Bee pollen is a combination of flower pollen and nectar that is generated by the male germ seeds of plants and collected from bees. It is purported to be high in B-vitamins and antioxidants, which has paved the way for its suggested use as an energizer and even potential antibacterial properties. The degree of bee pollens benefits has been debated for some time and more research is needed.
Beta alanine is an amino acid that serves as the rate-limiting precursor to carnosine, primarily by helping to buffer the effects of lactic acid. Carnosine is known to be a powerful cellular buffer, which can offset increases in hydrogen ions during intense exercise. A number of human studies have supported its use, particularly as an ergogenic acid during short to moderate duration activities. For example, beta alanine in 1.6 gram doses four times per day for six days improved the onset of neuromuscular fatigue. Similarly, an increase in torque production in final sets of multiset knee extension protocols was seen in highly trained sprint athletes after supplementing with 4.8 grams/day for four weeks. Finally, an increase in training volume has been seen in regularly ersistance-trained athletes. Regular supplementation is needed throughout the day to sustain increases in muscle carnosine. Beta alanine is frequently used along with creatine since they have similar effects on delaying muscular fatigue. More recent research has also shown beta alanine to be a key transporter of nitrogen, helping to provide protein synthesis support. Clearly, beta alanine represents an essential supplement for the athlete.
Betaine is substance in the body designed to aid in several essential bodily functions. Supplementation of betaine, at a dose of 6 grams daily for siz weeks has been shown to lower plasma homocysteine in both men and women. A variety of claims have been made concerning this particular compound some of which are supported by clinical research, but the lack of conclusive evidence suggsts further investigation should be conducted before using.
Bilberry is a shrub that bears blueberry like fruit that are rich in several bioactive compounds. The key nutrients are anthocyanidins, which help positively affect blood vessels and circulation. Beyond vascular support, bioactives in bilberry are thought to have strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Bilberry by itself, and as an ingredient in compound formulas, has been touted as offering key nutritional support to assist healthy eye function.
Bioperine is a standardized extract from the fruit of Piper nigrum L (black pepper) or Piper longum L (long pepper). Studies have shown it can help enhance the absorption of fat-soluble substances such as the antioxidant beta-carotene.
Biotin is a water soluble B vitamins involved in the metabolism of fatty acids, protein and carbohydrates, and is also a principal nutrient in the synthesis of hair and nails. The last property (support of healthier hair and nails) ensures that it is sometimes included in higher-quality vitamin/mineral supplements intended for women. Biotin is also sometimes associated with support of healthy blood sugar levels, by virtue of its role in the breakdown and utilization of carbohydrates in the body.
Bitter melon is a perennial plant that grows in a tropical and subtropical regions throughout the world and yields a squash-like vegetable that is used in both culinary and supplementation realms. Various parts of the plant known to contain high levels of vitamins and minerals. Preliminary work suggests it may help bolster immune support, among other benefits. Much research is being conducted on this plant to better explore any potential benefits.
Black cohosh is an herb traditionally used as a supplement in the treatment of menopausal symptoms and menstrual dysfunction. It contains several potentially bioactive compounds, notably the terpene glycoside fraction, including actein and cimifugoside, as well as alkaloids, flavonoids, and tannins. The exact mchanism of action is inclear, but several studies, and real-world results have indicated black cohosh to be a valued supplement for the female athlete.
Bombax Ceiba (also known as cotton tree) is native to eastern Asia and contains a number of phytonutrients of interest to researchers, including lupeol, flavonoids, and saponims. Luperol is said to have anti-inflammatory properties, while cotton tree flavonoids have been associated with antioxidant effects.
Much suggestion for boron’s use in humans comes from its nutrient role in plants. Changes in boron may influence the activity of many metabolic enzymes in addition to impacting the metabolism of the steriod hormones and several micronutrients. Studies have demonstrated positive effects in humans relative to assisting cognitive capacity and slight support for bone health.
Boswellia is the resin derived from the boswellia tree, which is native to India and has a long history of use in traditional ayurvedic medicine as a treatment for a variety of inflammatory diseases. Boswellia may inhibit 5-lopoxygenase and production of inflammatory compounds. Clinical studies have shown some efficacy for an array of health issues.
Colostrum is also referred to as “pre milk” and is secreted by female mammals to prior to milk production. All mammals secrete colostrum but this is bovine colostrum, which is the “pre milk” secreted by cows. Bovine colostrum contains up to 20 times the amount of frowth factors that typical cow’s milk possesses. A 2001 study showed that relatively moderate doses of colostrum administered for an 8-week period helped strength-trained men and women gain lean mass. This data, along with the fact that colostrum has been shown to help improve athletic performance, supports the exciting potential that this supplement has demonstrated. The key to achieving maximum benefit is to use only high-quality colostrum, with growth factors intact.
Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)
Of the essential amino acids, the BCAA’s (leucine, isoleucine and valine) are perhaps the three most important ingredients for recovery. As a supplement taking 10-15 grams of BCAAs has been shown to help prevent or decrease muscle proteolysis or breakdown. Also, recent search has shown that leucine is perhaps the most important of all the amino acids because of its role in promoting muscle protein synthesis. more and more research is supporting leucine’s efficacy in that regard. Ultimately, these three branched chain amino acids provide powerful anticatabolic support for the protection and building of muscle. As a result, BCAA’s have long been used by athletes to help enhance muscle growth and are considered an important part of any intense training program.
There is probably more research on caffeine than any other single supplement in the world! Caffeine promotes excercise performance (both endurance and power activities), decreases one’s pain perception (which in turn can help you train harder), helps promote calorie burning due to its potent thermogenic effect, and is the best neural agent for improving mental clarity. No wonder it continues to be a highly popular supplement among athletes and a central ingredient in nearly every stimulant-based thermogenic formula on the market.
Calcium is one of the most abundant elements in the human body, nearly 99% of it is found in the teeth and bones. The essential mineral is a key component of many necessary physiologic functions included bone metabolism, muscle contraction, nerve conduction and hormone production. Calcium’s role in bone health and metabolism is the most publicized, but its role in muscle contraction is critical. Without adequate calcium status, skeletal muscles are less able to function. Several forms of calcium exist and the citrate and carbonate versions tend to be absorbed the best. Recent studies examining the dietary intake of calcium suggest many healthy and active individuals may not be getting enough calcium in their diet. Also, the calcium has been shown to play a key role in management of diet support and body composition, a critical consideration for those individuals wanting to improve their physique.
Derived from fresh skim milk, calcium caseinate is a common ingredient in protein formulas. It is typically very slow to digest, providing for a continuous flow of of amino content over extended periods. Calcium caseinate is a good source of L-glutamine. Finally, because it is so slow to digest, it provides a feeling of satiety, making it useful for those looking to avoid cravings for carb-laden snacks. Calcium caseinate should not be confused with the nutritionally superior micellar casein form of this protein.
Cyclic adenosine monophospahate (cAMP) is rerived from the breakdown of ATP in cells. ATP (adenosine triphosphate) is the final energy source in the body. In cells, cAMP is known as a second messenger that signals or turns on transduction pathwas that lead to a variety of different cellular processes. The idea of supplementing with cAMP has no scientific basis. For it to have an effect in cells, it would have to make it through the digestive tract intact, get absorbed into the blood, and then be somehow transported into cells. Physiologically, this does not happen. There are supplements such as green tea that can directly boost cAMP levels but cAMP iteslef is not one of them.
Capsaicin is the active compound found in a variety of hot peppers, including cayenne peppers. In essence, it is the ingredient that makes peppers hot. Capsaicin has become increasingly popular as a minor pain reliever and thermogenic aid, which is likely due to its ability to dilate blood vessels and create a warming sensation. In theory, capsaicin may increase resting metabolic rate and, in turn, help contribute to weight loss. It can be found topical creams and as a dietary supplement.
Recently the source of much hopeful speculation in the weight-loss industry, Caralluma fimbriata (an extract of a plant common to India and trade name Slimaluma) is still included in many supplements in the category based on a purported activity as an appetite suppressant (through the exact physiological cause-and-effect of this activity has not yet been determined). Like Hoodia gordonii, Caralluma fimbriata has not quite lived up to expectations when subjected to rigorous scientific investigation, as statistically significant weight-loss results have not been observed in a number of clinical tests. However, research on this herbal extract is ongoing.
Carnipuer^ is a quality source of the essential nutrient, L-carnitine. L-carnitine plays a key role in the shuttling of fatty acids to be used as fuel sources and energy metabolism. Studies have indicated that supplementing with Carnipure^ is purported to increase fatty acid oxidation. An improvement in fatty acid oxidation could potentially help to promote improvements in body composition, while also providing a generous supply of energy providing substrates during aerobic exercise.
Carnosine is a combination of the amino acids alanine and histidine, which is referred to as a dipeptide. Carnosine has demonstrated a unique ability to scavenge a broad range of free radicals, making it a powerful ally for exercise recovery and overall good health. Although the mechanism of action not completely understood, it is known that carnosine is intricately involved in the process of muscle contraction. This potent antioxidant has also shown an ability to buffer lactic acid, a bi-product of exercise that leads to fatigue and hinders proper recovery.
Casein is the most abundant protein in milk. As a supplement, it offers many of the amino acids found in whey but is slower digesting, making it ideal as a nighttime protein or extended release throughout the day. Because casein is a ‘slow’ protein, when consumed, it renders a sustained increase in blood amino acid levels. This will, in turn, help further promote elevations in muscle protein synthesis. micellar casein is the superior form of casin because it is undenatured and contains an abundance of native growth factors. In valuable muscle promoting content, combined with its prolonged release times has made micellar casein a highly popular addition to the protein regimen of serious bodybuilders. Many athletes piggyback the use of micellar casein with a premium quality whey protein isolate to ensure a steady flow of amino acids and other growth factors throughout the day and night.
Daidzen is classified as an isoflavone. Like related compounds such as genistein, it can be found in a number of plants and herbs, especially soybeans. Additional research is needed on daidzen as much of its suggested uses relate to the fact that its an isoflavone.
Egg white protein has long been considered an excellent anabolic protein because it possesses varying percentages of all of the essential amino acids. In addition to its complete amino acid profile, egg protein has close to same biological value (BV) as whey.
Supplement fish oil is derived from cold-water species, primarily mackerel, herring, tuna, anchovy, salmon, and cod. These fish are especially rich in omega 3 fatty acids. The omega 3’s EPA (eicosahexaenoic acid) are considered essential fatty acids and are the beneficial compounds that are thought are thought to help reude inflammation, help reduce risks and associated with cardiovascular disease provide immune system support and improve overall health and function, among many other benefits.
An Amazonian plant, guarana is often found in thermogenic formulas and energy drinks due to its active ingredient, caffeine. Guarana seeds are rich in caffeine and contain about twice the amount found in coffee beans. Guarana seems to exert a slower more steady stimulant effect than straight caffeine.
Histidine is an essential amino acid that is involved in a wide range of metabolic processes in the body. Histidine is also a precursor of histamine, a compound released by immune system cells during an allergic reaction.
Inositol is a member of the b-complex vitamins and it considered a source of glucuronic acid, which is purported to provide nutritional support for the liver.
Jiaogulan (Gynostemma pentaphyllum) is a tea used in China to help people enhance their metabolism. Supplementation of this compound many help to maintain delivery of nutrients and facilitate recovery.
KIC (Alpha Ketoisocaproate)
KIC is a metabolite of the branched chain amino acid leucine and is a precursor to another leucine metabolite, beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate (HMB). Animal and human studies have suggested that KIC supplementation may offer some valuable athletic benefits.
Of the three amino acids BCAA (leucine, isoleucine, valine), more and more research is showing leucine to be the driving force behind most of its key mass gain benefits.
Magnesium is a critical co-factor in hundreds of chemical reactions in the body, many of which are related to energy metabolism during aerobic and anaerobic exercise.
Cysteine is one of three sulfur-containing amino acids. N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC) is a form of cysteine that is more efficiently absorbed and used by the body. Nac has general health-promoting effects owning to its ability to function as a powerful antioxidant and for its role in helping to reduce levels of homocysteine.
Octopamine has a chemical structure similar to epinephrine, but has weaker biological effects. It is thought to help break down fat cells in the body and possibly enhance metabolism but there is no significant research to support this assertion.
Phenibut is a chemical similar to GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) and is used as a neuropsychotropic medicine in Russia but is not supported by any human studies nor approved for use as a drug in the US.
Quercetin is a plant-derived flavonoid found in fruits and vegetables, particularly in the skin of red apples and red onions. This herbal extract is a versatile nutrient, displaying antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and immune support, making it a common addition to joint support and daily multivitamins/mineral supplements.
The subject of much research speculation in weight loss and general health circles, raspberry ketones are natural phenols responsible for the aroma of raspberries. Recently, researches have theorized that raspberry ketones are natural phenols responsible for the aroma of raspberries.
Interest in SARMs rose among late in the last decade as a result of a scientific inquiry into the treatment of people with muscle wasting diseases.
In the long search for natural testosterone enhancers, no other herbal ingredient has been able to match Tribulus Terrestris in potential effectiveness.
Valerian root extract has been a recognized sleep support agent for many years now. AS a result, it has been a central addition to most products in that category, which makes it a beneficial herbal ingredient. Valerian’s actual mechanism of action is relatively unknown but appears to be more effective when taken over time.
Whey Protein Hydrolysate
Whey protein hydrolysate is considered the highest grade, most anabolic form of protein available. Hydrolysate whey protein has been enzymatically pre-digested, which breaks some of the peptide bonds, yielding low-molecular-weight di- a tri-peptides for immediate amino absorption and assimilation by the body.
Yohimbe is the name of an evergreen tree whose bark contains a beneficial extract called yohimbine, which has been shown to help enhance sexual function.
This simple yet powerful complex of zinc, magnesium aspartate and vitamin b-6 continues to be on the most popular bodybuilding supplements available.