7 Biggest Supplement/Nutrition Myths
Heard of one of these Supplement/Nutrition myths before?
The supplement industry is valued globally at over $230,000,000,000. This means billions upon billions of that money is funneled into elite level research. This research has provided all of us companies that make up the industry with a foundation to create highly-effective performance/health enhancing products with more and more information and compounds coming out increasingly fast. However, even with everything we know and are learning about different compounds and our bodies, there are still so many myths that are constantly circulating the fitness community. Many of these myths arose from what was once believed to be scientifically true but has since been altered by more current and advanced research. There’s also consistently changing compounds and ingredients used in products that these myths no longer apply to. Luckily for you guys, we've put together this article to show you what the facts say about these commonly believed myths.
- So you mean Beta-Alanine Doesn't dilate my blood vessels to give me a pump? But isn't that why I tingle?
This is one constant myth we constantly run into, even when talking to experienced competitors and other company representatives. A common side effect of a clinical dose of beta-alanine is what is known as paresthesia, or tingling in the arms, hands, and face. Many people say this is because Beta-Alanine opens your bloodvessels to allow more blood to flow to your muscles (compared to Arginine and Citrulline) and that causes the tingle sensation but also the performance enhancing benefits. This is actually not how beta-alanine works at all and not why it causes short-termed tingling. Lets take a closer look at this compound:
What is it and What Does It’s Name Mean?
Beta Alanine is derived from the amino acid L-Alanine, as it’s name comes from the fact that it is the beta version of this amino acid. What do you mean the beta version? Well, amino acids can have different forms depending on how the molecule is structured. All amino acids contain nitrogen functional groups on their molecular structure, which is what makes them unique and is the reason these NH2 and NH3 groups are called amine functional groups (these nitrogen groups are used to build proteins that serve a variety of functions in your body). However, depending on where the Nitrogen functional group is bonded to on the molecule depends on whether it’s the “Alpha” version (this version is the common one which is normally just referred to as “L-name of the amino” for example L-Alanine) or the “Beta”. Lets take a look at the structure of L-Alanine (Alpha version) compared to the beta version.
On the left is the Alpha version which contains the Nitrogen (Amine) group on the central carbon. This carbon is bonded by both the carboxy group on the right and the CH3 (methyl group which we discussed in the betaine post a couple of weeks ago) making it the center carbon which is referred to as the Alpha carbon. Since in this version contains the Nitrogen group on that center carbon it is the alpha version. On the right you see the beta version which has the same structure but instead of the Nitrogen group being on the central carbon, there is now a hydrogen in its place and the Nitrogen group is on the CH2 group which was the CH3 group. So basically the Hydrogen and Nitrogen groups switched spots. Since the the carbon that contains the nitrogen group is bonded adjacently to the Alpha Carbon, it is referred to as the Beta Carbon and is the reason this is the beta version. While it might seem a slight difference, this leads to a great difference in function between the two versions, beta alanine having many performance enhancing effects that have been proven time after time (1,2,3).
How Does Beta Alanine Improve My Performance?
The majority of Beta Alanine’s effects on increasing physical performance comes from it’s ability to be used to create a dipeptide(two amino acids bonded together) molecule contained in muscle cells called Carnosine. It is believed that the Beta version of Alanine is effective in causing the increase in Carnosine levels because it’s Nitrogen Group being on the beta carbon makes it more accessible and less sterically blocked (aka when the nitrogen group is on the beta carbon it sticks out into the open more and is less cluttered than when on the alpha making it more easily accessible to enzymes to use it to synthesize carnosine).
The Role of Carnosine
Carnosine is made up of two molecules bonded together, typically Beta-Alanine and L-Histidine. This molecule is extremely important in physical exercise because it is stored in muscle cells and acts to buffer acid in the muscles. When you work your muscles strenuously you need ATP to fuel those muscle contractions so your cellular respiration (discussed in the Cluster Dextrin Blog post and is the process of generating ATP) goes through the roof. This process, specifically the glycolysis step, results in an increase in H+ ions, which cause pH to lower and your blood and cellular levels to become acidic. The most common acidic byproduct is lactic acid, which you can feel burning when you reach muscle failure. Carnosine works to buffer this pH by readily bonding the H+ ions that build up in your muscles and carry them away. This neutralizes their effects and keeps your pH non-acidic, allowing you to pump out more reps, more weight, and delay fatigue. Ingesting Beta-Alanine at 3.2g prior to workout allows your muscles to have a readily available source to synthesize Carnosine and keep up with neutralizing the acid production.
Why not Just Take Carnosine?
Carnosine is too easily broken down in the body by enzyme Carnosinase and most of it lost in your GI tract anyway before it even reaches your blood. However, ingesting Beta-Alanine allows your body to immediately transport this amino to your muscles and directly increases Carnosine production while not facing being broken down.
the beta version of the amino acid L-Alanine, beta alanine has been shown to drastically improve muscular performance. When ingested, it is metabolized into the molecule carnosine which acts as a buffer to harmful acids such as lactic acid in the body. The carnosine is stored in cells, majorly in muscle tissue , where it is then released in responses to pH drops (caused by the buildup of acids in the body due to strenuous exercise). This what makes it so effective in preventing fatigue and protecting muscular tissue.
Why Does it Make Me Tingle?
A common harmless side effect of doses of Beta Alanine is paresthesia, which is tingling and itching of the skin. It is believed this is cause due to Beta Alanine’s interaction with where it binds to in the body. The compound binds to MrgprD receptors in the body, which are a type of G-protein coupled receptors. These receptors are known to play an essential role in mediating itch signals in the body, which is why it is believed this is a side effect, but is completely harmless (and lets you know its working!)
- Taking protein isn't the best post-workout supplement? But isn't it used to repair the muscle tissue I just worked out and damaged?
This is partly true, proteins make up a huge amount of our mass and are the basis for almost all of our cellular components ranging from enzymes, to hormones, and organelles. When you workout efficiently, your body does experience damage to the tissue you've exercised and then follows it up by rebuilding what has been damaged. This is typically a protein or a protein complex involved in some function of the muscle tissue and requires your body to synthesize those needed proteins (yes, that is why protein synthesis levels are so significant and talked about when trying to build muscle). So supplying your body with protein post-workout makes sense right-you're supplying your body with protein so protein synthesis should increase? Sort-of-right, but it's a little more complicated. However, understanding these small details will help you recover way more efficiently and don't worry it's not anything crazy!
So, your body doesn't actually use protein directly to repair muscle tissue; there are billions upon billions of different proteins that make up all organic matter so you can't just take protein you ingest and use it to repair. Proteins are actually poly-peptides; multiple amino acids bonded together in what is known as a peptide bond to form a chain. A peptide bond requires one amino-acid to lose an "-OH" at its C-terminus (carboxyl group) nd/or a hydrogen at the N-terminus (NH2 terminus). How your body arranges the amino acid sequence is how it generates the proteins it needs. Every protein has a specific sequence of amino acids that defines it's primary structure and is the major backbone of determining what the proteins function will be. So your body must have the amino acids it needs to generate this sequence synthesizing the proteins needed. So, by ingesting amino acids tied directly to protein synthesis within muscle tissue, you bypass the digestion step and supply readily available amino acids which reach peak levels in your blood within 15 minutes typically. This is compared to protein, which since it has to be broken down first, typically takes up to 4 hours to reach peak blood levels. This also doesn't take into account that protein doesn't replenish glycogen (stored glucose in muscle tissue) or other ATP producing compounds such as creatine. Check out our articles that relate to those here:
And Check Out Our Post-Workout Supplement that Addresses All Aspects of Recovery- BLACK ICE™
- I Don't Supplement with Protein Because Too Much Is Bad For Your Kidneys, Right?
Have you Heard This One Before? It’s one of the Most Common Questions we’re Asked when People See a High Protein Macro Count recommended By Our Marco Guide.
So, is too much protein bad for your kidneys? The truth of this statement is only conditionally true, and that condition is very important. Protein is broken down into amino acids when it’s ingested and those amino acids are preferably used for building other needed proteins. However, if your body begins to use protein for energy, it has to first deaminate (remove the NH2 group) from the amino acids by hydrogen abstraction (a hydrogen pulls the NH2 group off the amino acid) forming NH3 or ammonia. Ammonia, being highly toxic to the body, is typically converted to urea in the liver or kidneys almost immediately, a way less toxic compound. Not only does this add stress to your liver and kidneys having to convert excess amounts, but if there is a large enough excess this toxic ammonia can build up in your system and cause drastic effects. However , this results ONLY under the condition where you use amino acids for energy. This only occurs when you don’t eat a balanced diet and it consists of almost all protein. Protein , because it has many other uses, is the least preferred of the 3 macros (carbs, fat, and protein) to be used. Your body will first use carbs, then fats, and as a last resort protein. So this myth is only true when protein is consumed majorly by itself, not when carbohydrates and fats are balanced. Even though some of our recommendations will be pretty high protein, the balance with carbs and fats (which are needed to maximize fitness) will prevent that from happening.
4. Anti-Estrogen Compounds Are Anti-Estrogen Compounds Right? It Doesn't Matter Which Ones You Take?
We’ve talked about the need for PCT’s after supplementing with an outside source of androgens (testosterone, 1-Andro, etc.) due to the conversion of the additional test now in your system to estrogen. Many come to us with questions relating to on-cycle supports and post-cycles, typically confused about what types of anti-estrogen compounds there are, how they work, and when to take them. This will clarify!
There are mainly two different types of anti-estrogen classes:
✅Aromatase Inhibitors(AI):as we’ve discussed before, you have enzymes in your body called aromatases which act on testosterone molecules and convert them to estrogen. While this is beneficial to keep your body in homeostasis, when you have an increased amount of testosterone, an increased amount will be converted resulting in higher levels and negative side effects. That’s why these types of compounds work by either:
▶️These compounds, the most known one being arimidex, are best taken on cycle since your testosterone levels are increasing and you want to prevent the conversion of it. This will help protect your free testosterone levels as well.
▶️This is best as a post cycle therapy as your test levels are going to start to decrease. You don’t want to use an AI because you want your body to return back to its normal homeostasis, so instead, by blocking estrogen receptors in a part of your body you can avoid negative side effects without wiping out all your estrogen. Too little estrogen can have drastic consequences.
Ah the good ole 5g of Creatine myth. This essentially was true at one point in time but we are now living in 2018 where hopefully you have moved past your monohydrate obsession. The fact of the matter is, is that the monohydrate version of creatine dominated the industry for years as it was effective and the only version out. The 5g dose myth was centered around the monohydrate version, which is not exactly very bioavailable. This version is 1 creatine molecule bonded to 1 molecule of water (yes, mono "one" Hydrate "water"), which pose some major obstacles for it inside the body. First off, this version has a hard time with solubility in fluids and often remains undissolved. Your body has a hard time uptaking it through the lining of your intestines because of this and it usually ends up sitting there and drawing in more water. This not only greatly lowers its absorption, but can lead to unwanted side effects such as stomach pains and diarrhea. Studies have shown that as little as 3% of you supplemented dose is actually absorbed and utilized by the body. This means that in order to obtain adequate doses you need to be supplementing with at least 5g. The creatine that is taken up by muscle tissue does carry water with it, which has been shown by research to lead to bloating and a decrease in definition.
Luckily for you guys however, we have caught on to this problem and addressed it head on by developing forms that are much more bioavailable and allow a much smaller dose to be taken as it works way more efficiently. By binding creatine to different molecules we can greatly enhance its absorption. While there are a series of different forms that absorb differently and carry other beneficial compounds (such as the forms that make up our CreaGrow™ Complex), the way they work differs and the compounds they carry do as well. To check out the breakdown of our CreaGrow Complex visit our article here:
Carbohydrates are your body’s preferred energy source due to the amount of cells that require the macromolecule, how efficient the process is to convert it to a useable energy source, and how much can be stored in your body.
Your body can easily store carbohydrates as it breaks them down into glucose (except cluster dextrin does not need to be broken down as it is already a simple carbohydrate) which is used to fuel the energy needs of the body. Glucose circulates in the blood and, through the use of insulin, the glucose enters cells where it is used for the cell to undergo cellular respiration and generate ATP to allow them to carry out their functions. When there is an excess of carbohydrates, your body stores them as glycogen in the liver and skeletal muscle tissue where they can be tapped into to generate ATP when the body is demanding more energy than is available in the current circulating glucose levels. However, the body can only store around 500g of glycogen before the storage is maxed out.This is one reason why your body prefers to use carbohydrates as an energy source over fats. Although fats carry a higher energy potential (about 9 calories a gram compared to carbohydrates that carry about 4 calories a gram), your body can store almost all the extra fat you consume in adipose tissue. So while you max out storage of carbohydrates at 500g, 98% of the fats you eat can be stored no matter how much you consume. Your body can convert excess carbohydrates into fat, but would then have to turn it back into carbohydrates to use it for energy, making it a less efficient process than prioritizing the consumption of carbohydrates as the initial energy source.
Also, your brain cells require the most energy out of any cells and it is more efficient for your body to use carbohydrates as the energy source. Fats have to be broken down which converts them into ketones to be used as energy in brain cells. Not to mention the central nervous system must have glucose to operate and cannot use energy from fats, so while ketones provide an energy source for most of the body, carbohydrates fuel the entire body.
The demand of glucose to provide energy for your entire body is why it is vital to include in your pre-workout. Having the glucose source dextrin in the cyclical shape allows the carb source to pass into the small intestines and absorbed within 20 minutes, making it a pre-workout secret ingredient. It offers a noticeable difference in delaying muscle fatigue and improving “pumps.”
Check Out Our Article On Cellular Respiration and How Carbs Are Used Here: