Anabolic Anticatabolic QA

Q: You ve done a lot of research on insulin. Is it a bodybuilder's friend or foe? Should hardgain -ers try to get insulin surges throughout the day via high-glycemic-index carb intake to kick-start anabolism and blunt Cortisol release, or will that have negative effects?

A: Insulin is a storage hormone that has the capacity to increase fat deposition, foster carb storage as glycogen and help increase muscle protein synthesis by promoting amino acid uptake in muscle while blunting Cortisol's catabolic effects. One study attributes 30 percent of muscle protein synthesis to insulin activity.

In addition, insulin may increase free or active testosterone levels through several possible mechanisms. These include inhibition of SHBG, a protein produced in the liver that binds to testosterone in the blood, thus keeping it dormant. Lowering SHBG increases free or active testosterone levels. Insulin may also promote the activity of an enzyme in the testes needed for testosterone synthesis. Finally, insulin may inhibit aromatase enzyme, which converts free testosterone into estrogen.

As such, insulin can be either good or bad, depending on how you control it. For most people attempting to produce insulin surges throughout the day will promote both hunger and increased body-fat deposition. The main advantage to consuming frequent but small meals is that they support a more even insulin release, thus avoiding the surges produced by taking in too many calories—which promotes excessive insulin release and subsequent bodyfat synthesis.

I've noticed through the years that the types of diets that result in the lowest percentage of bodyfat in bodybuilders are those that control insulin release. Simply put, when insulin is controlled, you burn much more fat. That's the whole point of low-carb diets. For some people, however, such extreme low-carb plans don't work well, but even for them, controlling insulin release through properly timed carb intake will result in greater bodyfat losses.

I think it's beneficial to have an insulin spike as soon as possible after training, since many studies show that increased insulin at that time promotes increased muscle glycogen synthesis, greater amino acid uptake into muscle and decreased Cortisol. The best way to do that is to consume half a gram of simple carbs per pound of body weight along with enough protein to equal 40 percent of the carb dose. For example, a 200-pound bodybuilder would consume 100 grams of high-glycemic carbs with 40 grams of protein. Whey protein is the preferred postworkout protein source because it can be rapidly absorbed.

Adding glutamine to this mix may also help, since intense training causes glutamine to exit from muscle. Glutamine is important for maintaining optimal immune response and aids muscle protein synthesis. About four grams after training is a good dose, as too much will either be degraded in the liver or absorbed by intestinal cells. By the way, there's absolutely no evidence that combining glutamine with lysophosphatidylcholine, as is the practice with some current glutamine supplements, increases the uptake of oral glutamine. Lysocholine is, however, linked to duodenal ulcers and atherosclerosis.

One researcher a few years ago came up with the idea of consuming a simple carb-and-protein mixture during training. He noted that insulin secretion during exercise is usually depressed by epinephrine. He thought that consuming the nutrient mixture would overcome this brake and thus release insulin during training. The insulin released would preserve

The best protein supplements contain casein and whey protein along with glutamine peptides—an ideal mix that promotes optimal growth and less muscle wasting.

muscle and might even provide an anabolic effect.

The technique would be especially useful for hardgainers who have no carb-sensitivity problems, since it would maximize insulin output without the hazard of insulin's fat-promoting effect. The downside is that you'd have to drink at least two quarts of the stuff, and that could lead to an uncomfortable bloated effect in many people. In addition, the insulin produced by this method would totally obviate any fat-burning effect of the workout, and people with insulin insensitivity may acquire more bodyfat than lean mass.

Another way to control Cortisol release involves using a phosphatidyls erine (PS) supplement. A new study that used active bodybuilders was recently presented at the American College of Sports Medicine meeting in Orlando, Florida. This study confirmed that PS does indeed safely inhibit Cortisol release, lowering it by around 30 percent. This represents a significant—but safe—decrease in Cortisol output. You never want to totally curtail Cortisol, since that could be fatal.

A few emerging animal-based studies also show that ginko biloba, a substance derived from some of the world's oldest trees, also appears to lower Cortisol output in a manner similar to PS. Since those new studies don't involve human subjects, the results must await confirmation in studies that do. Unless you want to use ginko as a brain nutrient, stick with PS for Cortisol control for now.

—Jerry Brainum, bodybuilding and nutrition researcher

Q: Does the food supplement phosphatidylserine offer any real bodybuilding benefits? If so, is there any scientific data to prove its efficacy?

A: PS, as it's known, is a phospholipid, a combination of fatty acids and phosphorus plus the amino acid serine. It's a ubiquitous substance in the body, found in cell membranes, and research has shown that the body's synthesis of PS may not be optimal as people age. Since much of a person's PS is concentrated in the brain, which is composed mostly of fat, older people may be deficient in the substance—a notion that's underscored by several well-controlled studies. In the experiments researchers found that providing an average dose of 300 milligrams per day of PS to older people who have memory defects seemed to help them.

The idea of using PS to combat stress reactions induced by high Cortisol levels first surfaced in a 1990 study reported in the journal Neuroen -docrinology. In 1992 the same researchers published another study that pointed to an athletic use for PS. That study involved untrained cyclists who took 800 milligrams of PS for 10 days prior to exercising on bicycles to near exhaustion. The results indicated that PS appeared to lower Cortisol by about 30 percent. The effect was noted only for an 800-mil-ligram dose; however, 400 milligrams didn't have the same effect on Cortisol release.

Cortisol is a stress hormone produced in the adrenal cortex. The con-

This study confirmed that PS does indeed safely inhibit Cortisol release, lowering it by around 30 percent. This represents a significant— but safe— decrease in Cortisol output.

Since the anabolic hormones are required for optimal muscle protein synthesis, the effect of Cortisol in breaking down muscle and interfering with new muscle growth via anabolic hormone release clearly points to the need to control, but not to eliminate, Cortisol release.

trol of Cortisol is based on a hormonal cascade effect involving an initial release of corticotropin-releasing hormone from the hypothalamus, followed by ACTH from the pituitary gland. ACTH then travels in the blood to the adrenal glands, where it dictates the release of several hormones, including Cortisol.

Cortisol has acquired a bad reputation among bodybuilders because of its catabolic, or breakdown, effects in muscle. Muscle tissue is loaded with Cortisol hormone receptors; in fact, Cortisol receptors outnumber androgen receptors by 50 to 1. In muscle Cortisol promotes the breakdown of muscle amino acids, which then travel in the blood to the liver, where they're converted into glucose in a process called gluco-neogenesis.

While it sounds bad, the breakdown of muscle protein induced by Cortisol is a protective function of the body that's designed to provide needed fuel (glucose) under high-stress conditions. Unfortunately, the body doesn't differentiate between good stress and bad stress, so the stress of exercise results in the same Cortisol catabolic effects as trauma to the body. In addition, Cortisol suppresses immune response, which explains why it's so much easier to get sick when you're under stress. Even sleep disturbances can lower immune response by 40 percent.

Cortisol also has an inverse relationship to anabolic hormones, such as testosterone, growth hormone and insulin. When Cortisol is elevated, the other hormones are depressed. Since the anabolic hormones are required for optimal muscle protein synthesis, the effect of Cortisol in breaking down muscle and interfering with new muscle growth via anabolic hormone release clearly points to the need to control, but not to eliminate, Cortisol release.

Some athletes resort to drugs that either block the effects of Cortisol or inhibit its synthesis in the adrenal glands. Examples of blocking drugs include anabolic steroids, which are synthetic forms of testosterone. While the precise mechanism behind the cortisol-inhibiting effect of anabolic steroids isn't known, one theory holds that steroids exert a competitive inhibition against the binding of Cortisol to its cell receptors in muscle. The theory is complicated, however, by the fact that there are far more Cortisol receptors in muscle than androgen receptors. Most of the long-term effects of anabolic steroids in promoting muscle growth and recovery are related to the Cortisol-inhibition effect.

Another popular drug for controlling Cortisol is aminoglutethimide, often sold under the trade name Cytadren, which works at the adrenal level by preventing the synthesis of Cortisol that begins with cholesterol. While effective for that purpose, Cytadren may also produce such side effects as nausea, vomiting, bone marrow depression and skin rashes.

I recall an instance a few years ago, in which I was called to the room of a top-level pro bodybuilder who was preparing to compete in a major contest. He complained of severe lethargy and appeared to have difficulty keeping his eyes open. When I asked him what he was taking, he replied, "Cytadren and Orimeten." No wonder he was lethargic: He was doubling up on the same drug because Orimeten is another trade name for it. Lethargy, such as the man experienced, occurs in 40 percent of people taking aminoglutethemide.

In truth, any anabolic drug, including IGF-1, growth hormone, anabolic steroids and insulin, can block most of the catabolic effects of Cortisol. Those drugs, however, are not only illegal without a prescription, but they also have potential side effects. For a person primarily interested in health, such drugs aren't an option for Cortisol control. That's where PS enters the picture.

Based on the two studies discussed above, PS has been suggested as a natural alternative for Cortisol control, with the usual dose being 800 milligrams a day. A major criticism of that suggestion, though, is the lack of studies showing that it provides benefits for people engaged in intense weight training. After all, riding a bike is one thing in terms of muscle stress, but hoisting heavy weights several days a week is quite another.

The dearth of studies concerning the effects of PS on an active weight-training population led researchers Tom Fahey and Michelle Pearl of California State University, Chico, to design a new study for that purpose. Their experiment incorporated a double-blind, crossover design, meaning that neither the researchers or the subjects knew who was getting PS and who was getting a placebo. The placebo in this case consisted of lecithin, a good choice, since lecithin, like PS, is derived from soybeans. Fahey and Pearl presented their results at the recent American College of Sports Medicine meeting in Orlando, Florida.

The study featured 12 fit males with at least four years of weight-training experience (one man dropped out of the study due to appendicitis), who were all in good health and took no anabolic steroids or any other performance-enhancing drugs. They participated in a two-week training period consisting of four sessions a week. The workouts were especially intense whole-body sessions, in which the subjects trained with heavy weights, averaging five sets per exercise. Large muscle groups were emphasized in the routines, which were designed to promote overtraining.

The men were assigned to either a PS group or a placebo group. The men receiving genuine PS used a dosage of 800 milligrams a day. At the end of two weeks the subjects took a three-week break, then switched treatments—the "crossover" design—for another two-week period of supplementation and training. Fahey and Pearl measured various hormone levels during the course of the study, including Cortisol, ACTH, luteinizing hormone (LH) from the pituitary gland and testosterone. The muscle enzyme creatine kinase was also assessed as a measure of exer-cise-induced muscle damage, and the subjects reported subjective feelings of well-being and muscle soreness.

During the first days of training Cortisol levels were similar in both the PS and placebo groups, but by the eighth workout the PS group

Some athletes resort to drugs that either block the effects of Cortisol or inhibit its synthesis in the adrenal glands. Examples of blocking drugs include anabolic steroids, which are synthetic forms of testosterone.

When Cortisol remains elevated, the body turns on itself, literally ceding on hard-earned muscle, vhich is broken down into mino acids and converted to glucose in the liver in a process called luconeogenesis.

showed lower Cortisol levels. Levels of ACTH, which controls Cortisol release, didn't change in the PS men, but they rose by 50 percent in the placebo group. Testosterone initially increased in the PS group, but it dropped in both the PS and placebo groups by the end of the study. That isn't surprising when you consider that the men were purposely overtraining, which has an established effect in blunting testosterone release. LH also rose only in the PS group.

The men taking the PS reported a greater feeling of well-being and less muscle soreness, both of which were based on a 10-point subjective scale. The researchers concluded that PS appears to lower Cortisol after exercise and increase feelings of well-being while blunting muscle soreness. Similar to the results of older studies on PS, those findings suggest that the mechanism involves a PS-induced inhibition of ACTH release by the pituitary gland. The fact that ACTH didn't rise in those taking PS but did in the placebo group substantiates that idea.

Fahey and Pearl's preliminary study suggests that PS may be an effective and safe way to control Cortisol output without resorting to potentially dangerous drugs. Although the men in the new study reported less muscle soreness, anecdotal reports from bodybuilders who have used PS indicate that a common side effect is increased joint soreness.

While that may not be comfortable, it also indicates that PS may work as advertised. Cortisol is a potent anti-inflammatory hormone in the body, and anything that interferes with Cortisol activity is capable of producing joint tenderness, which is also a commonly seen side effect of the potent cortisol-suppressing drugs discussed above.

—Jerry Brainum, bodybuilding and nutrition researcher

Q: I keep reading about Cortisol and its relationship to muscle catabolism If it's so destructive, why does the body produce it, and how can I stop it from slowing my muscle growth ?

A: The answer to that question lies deep in our DNA. Cortisol is actually a holdover from our 4-million-year-old genetic design. When the body is stressed, it triggers the "fight or flight" survival mechanism, which can shoot Cortisol levels way above normal. The biological design of Cortisol is such that when primitive man was threatened or angry, Cortisol levels rose and mobilized his body for action by breaking down fat and muscle stores to use for emergency fuel and to reduce swelling in the event of injury.

For today's serious athletes training is trauma, and the body interprets every workout as a threat to survival. Mental stress produces the same negative response in the body as physical stress. The one-two punch of modern physical and mental stressors results in overload, which can leave your adaptive system overwhelmed by ongoing calls for Cortisol production. As a result, Cortisol levels may not get a chance to return to normal for long periods, and when Cortisol remains elevated, the body turns on itself, literally feeding on hard-earned muscle, which is broken down into amino acids and converted to glucose in the liver in a process called gluconeogenesis.

Higher Cortisol levels also reduce or even block the entry of anabolic building blocks essential for protein synthesis. That means when Cortisol is high, expensive dietary amino acid and protein supplements are less likely to do their main job of cellular repair and growth.

Anabolic steroids appear to inhibit the catabolic effects of Cortisol. It's a known fact that Cortisol levels skyrocket when athletes stop using steroids. Phosphatidylserine (PS) is a natural substance that has been shown to suppress Cortisol by more than 30 percent, which is why I think it's the king of the anticatabolic compounds. And it can actually amplify the effects of other supplements.

A number of European studies verified the anticatabolic effects of PS, and more recently Thomas Fahey of California State Univeristy, Chico, did a study with PS and anaerobic athletes. It once again proved its tremendous power by reducing blood Cortisol levels during and after bodybuilding-type workouts, lighting the fuse for explosive size-and-strength increases.

This underscores the fact that PS supplements like Muscle-Link's Cort-Bloc should be a staple of all mass-seeking bodybuilders, especially those who don't use drugs. Choke off the devastating effects of Cortisol and you'll grow as you never have before.

—Bob Fritz, res ear ch-and-development technician, Muscle-Link

Q: I've tried Cort-Bloc and made great gains with it, but someone told me that blocking Cortisol can be dangerous. Is that true?

A: Blocking Cortisol completely, as some drugs such as Cytadren do, for long periods can be dangerous; however, the study done with phosphatidyls erine by Thomas Fahey showed that the natural compound suppressed Cortisol by about 30 percent. That percentage isn't high enough to be dangerous, but it is enough to reduce catabolism and have a significant beneficial effect on muscle growth.

If you're still not convinced, check out Jerry Brainum's Applied Metabolics #13. He discusses a new study that was reported in theeJour -nal ofApplied Physiology (1998) that looked at the effects oflow Cortisol during exercise. Jerry's conclusion of the study is as follows:

While Cortisol is important, blocking its effects during exercise isn't harmful and doesn't adversely affect exercise performance. The reason is that when Cortisol is blocked, the activities of other hormones that regulate blood glucose levels—such as growth hormone, epinephrine and norepinephrine—increase to counter the effects of lowered Cortisol.

That means your great gains from Cort-Bloc were not only due to reduced catabolism but were no doubt the result of a nice uptick in growth hormone as well. It also means that controlling Cortisol with phosphatidyls erine is completely safe. [A 12-issue subscription to Applied Metabolics is $29.95 for domestic, $49.95 for foreign and Canadian. Call (805) 570-4766.]

—Steve Holm an, editor in chief, IRONMAN

Anabolic steroids appear to inhibit the catabolic effects of Cortisol. It's a known fact that Cortisol levels skyrocket when athletes stop using steroids.

Because Cortisol can cripple your GH release, taking a PS supplement right before bed can make your natural GH pulse that occurs during the first few hours of sleep much stronger. The result will be better recovery and more muscle growth.

O: When should I use Cort-Bloc for best effects?

A: Even if you're not using GH Stak, you can still get tremendous anabolic, anticatabolic benefits from Cort-Bloc. My advice is to use it at two strategic times during the day to decrease catabolism, increase growth and recovery and heighten your natural GH surges. First, use it before you train to help blunt the effects of Cortisol, which will increase significantly during and right after you train. The second strategic time to take it is about an hour before bed. Because Cortisol can cripple your GH release, taking Cort-Bloc right before bed can make your natural GH pulse that occurs during the first few hours of sleep much stronger. The result will be better recovery and more muscle growth.

If you're taking GH Stak before bed, you'll want to take your Cort-Bloc with your last meal at around 7 p.m., instead of right before you go to sleep. Your stomach has to be empty to maximize the effects of the GH Stak, so make sure you take your Cort-Bloc three hours before your GH Stak.

—John Balik, publisher, IRONMAN

Q: Please outline a diet and supplement schedule that incorporates the most effec -tive supplements so I can grow as quickly as my genetics will allow.

A: The diet/supplement schedule on the next page is an excellent one to start with; however, keep in mind that it is just a template. You'll probably have to adjust portions to find your perfect calorie total. The supplements are based on the anabolic/an-ticatabolic pyramid, which appears in Size Surge 2.

—Steve Holman, editor in chief IRONMAN

Creatine & ribose Essential fatty acids Whey-and-casein protein supplement Food, phytochemicals, vitamins, minerals

ANABOLIC/ANTICATABOLIC DIET AND SUPPLEMENT SCHEDULE

6:30 a.m.:

Effervescent Creatine Elite, 1 packet (5 grams) or AnaVol-R

7 a.m.:

Calories

Protein

Fat

Carbohydrates

Protein drink, such as Muscle-Link's Pro-Fusion*

200

40

2

5

Oatmeal, 8 ounces

150

5

3

25

Egg whites, 2 stirred into oatmeal

20

6

-

1 rice cake with peanut butter (1 1/2 tablespoons)

218

8

14

15

Dates, 1/4 cup (about 5 whole dates)

137

1

33

Totals

725

60

19

78

9:30 p.m.:

Multivitamin and

-mineral supplement; Omega Stak, 2,000 milligrams

Calories

Protein

Fat

Carbohydrates

Meal replacement, such as Muscle-Link's Muscle Meals*

310

40

11

11

Apple

88

-

22

Totals

398

40

11

34

Noon

Calories

Protein

Fat

Carbohydrates

Roasted chicken, 6 ounces

232

40

8

Broccoli, 6 ounces

45

4

-

8

Rice, 1 cup

124

4

-

27

Totals

401

48

8

34

4 p.m.:

PS (cortlsol-control compound, such as Cort-Bloc), 400 milligrams; Omega Stak, 2,000 milligrams; Ribose Size, 2.2 grams

Meal replacement, such as Muscle-Link's Muscle Meals*

310

40

11

12

5 p.m.:

Effervescent Creatine Elite, then work out

6:30 p.m.:

Vitamin C, 500 milligrams, Vitamin E, 500 International units Beta-carotene, 20,000 International units; Ribose Size, 2.2 grams

Calories

Protein

Fat

Carbohydrates

Protein drink, such as Muscle-Link's Pro-Fusion mixed In

Orange juice, 3 cups

200 312

3

2

5 75

7 p.m.:

Cottage cheese, 6 ounces

162

22

6

5

Peanuts (handful)

110

5

8

2

Totals

784

70

16

87

10:30 p.m.:

PS (cortlsol-control compound, such as Cort-Bloc),

Protein drink, such as Muscle-Link's Pro-Fusion*

400 milligrams; Omega Stak, 2,000 milligrams

200 40 2

5

Grand Totals & Macronutrient percentages

2,818

298 42%

67 22%

251 36%

Note: When you use GH Stak or AnaVol-R before bed on an empty stomach, move your 10:30 p.m. protein drink to noon, add it to that meal, and take your PS and EFA supplements with your 7 p.m. meal.

The Basics Of Body Building

The Basics Of Body Building

Bodybuilding is the process of developing muscle fibers through various techniques. It is achieved through muscle conditioning, weight training, increased calorie intake, and resting your body as it repairs and heals itself, before restarting your workout routine.

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