As discussed in Chapter 4, workout nutrition is essential. Taking a liquid nutrition drink containing a 2:1 ratio of fast digesting carbs to fast digesting protein (0.8g/kg and 0.4g/kg respectively; plus some added amino acids such as glutamine, BCAA, and phenylalanine) during and after exercise can substantially increase protein synthesis, decrease protein breakdown, increase muscle carbohydrate recovery, and improve the anabolic to catabolic hormone ratio in the body.
As discussed earlier, the best recovery drink on the market is Biotest Surge. This product meets the criterion above and has been shown in research studies to offer recovery benefits.
Other good products on the market include 2 products by Pacific Labs -Countdown and Endurox; although we think the carbohydrate to protein ratio of these products is a bit high and Surge is a better choice.
Creatine monohydrate increases muscle free creatine and phosphocreatine concentrations. These naturally occurring energy pools are responsible for replenishing the muscle's number 1 energy supply - ATP. By boosting free creatine and phosphocreatine with creatine supplements, not only is energy production and anaerobic power/muscle strength enhanced, muscles actually begin to "swell". This "swelling" can lead to increases in muscle protein synthesis, muscle glycogen storage, and muscle size.
While some people may argue this point with us, we think that continual creatine supplementation is essential for good health as well as athletic performance. While creatine has been discussed in the athletic context quite extensively, it has some amazing regenerative effects on all tissues of the body, including the brain. That's right, even if you're not an athlete, you may benefit from creatine supplementation. Studies have shown that creatine supplements can improve the functional capacity of the elderly, reduce the loss of lean mass associated with age, and improve cognitive test scores.
Now, we know what some of you are thinking - what about all those reported effects and dangers? After all, the media has a field day with creatine. Well, these negative effects have been overstated. In fact, no scientific studies have found serious or lasting negative side effects associated with creatine supplementation. The only negative side effect associated with creatine supplementation that's been shown in a few studies is mild gastric distress; gastric distress which subsides after a few days of use.
Cramping - no.
In fact, the only real "side effects" associated with creatine supplementation (besides an occasional stomach ache that goes away quickly) are bigger, stronger muscles, boosts in athletic performance, and boosts in cognitive performance.
And here's another way to think of it. Historically, we humans have had a relatively high creatine intake. This is due to the fact that many of our evolutionary ancestors consumed high meat diets, and meat contains creatine. From scientific data, it's clear that our bodies have adapted to this level of intake and like a higher creatine diet. How do we know this?
Well, first of all, most of us have storehouses of creatine in our muscles that are only about 70% full. Secondly, when we supplement with creatine and top off our creatine stores, we do better - cognitively and athletically.
Since creatine supplementation boosts creatine capacity to 100% and offers a host of performance and health benefits, we argue that most people -unless they eat a high creatine diet - are in a state of sub-clinical deficiency. To prevent this "deficiency," we usually recommend 3-5g of micronized creatine (1 teaspoon) per day, every day.
Using this amount of creatine should increase power output by about 10%. For youngins, this means heavier loads in the gym, more explosive lifts, and increased athletic performance. For older folk, this means more daily functional capacity. Throw this creatine (AST or MetRx make good micronized creatine products) in with your Super Shakes (above) and you're now putting all the basics together.
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