Continuing from the previous article which opened up the two giant basics of muscle building supplements – protein and creatine – here we have another couple to add to the stack.
Anyone remember betaine? Its first go round the supplement industry didn’t get much traction, but it appears to be here to stay now, and with the support of a few scientific studies.
Originally discovered in sugar beets (hence betaine) this natural chemical compound can be found in a few healthy foods, including spinach, wheat germ and shrimp.
Its primary function is to protect the integrity of cells (balance of water), making them tougher in the face of oxidative stress.
Secondly, it reduces homocysteine levels via the donation of a methyl group (Betaine’s fancy name is Trimethylglycine, which means it’s trimethylated).
Homocysteine is a biomarker for cardiovascular health. However, not being content with simply providing information as a marker, it appears to cause the problems as well by increasing levels of gunky plaque on the interior walls of the arteries.
Basically, lower levels of homocysteine is a good thing.
Other problems are being linked to homocysteine, including osteoporosis and cancer. Lower levels is a REALLY good thing.
…but what the fudge does that have to do with cranking out a personal best?
Well, the third effect of betaine is the ability to raise Nitric Oxide levels in the blood, which can assist short term muscle power and long term gains. In the gym, it gives you ‘the pump’.
Actually, all three of the above effects can positively impact performance levels by enhancing aerobic output and yes, strength and muscle growth.
Dosage: results have been recorded with just 500mg per day but studies show trained athletes get the most out of 2.5g per day.
Czapla, Swensen and Craig – Effect of betaine on cycling sprint power – Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition20107(Suppl 1):P23 DOI: 10.1186/1550-2783-7-S1-P23
- Hoffman et al – Effect of betaine supplementation on power performance and fatigue – Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition20096:7
This will sound unnecessary to many of you, and indeed will be. However, for guys getting into their late 30s and early 40s, there may be a case for it.
Testosterone is our natural anabolic steroid hormone, and some men have got oodles of it to spare, while others have less.
Note: If you are in a state of low testosterone, then there are some fairly unpleasant symptoms and the best advice is to go and see a doctor if you haven’t already – because a booster is likely not enough.
For the man who feels he has lost some of his pep (more of us than you might imagine), you can certainly benefit from a good T booster to optimize your production and reverse a bit of that lacklustre feeling you have holding you back.
These supplements are not messing with your hormones or causing you to need any kind of treatment. For the most part they are simply encouraging your endogenous system to increase the production of testosterone.
In fact, some of the ingredients will only improve virility but this can certainly translate into training aggression and feelings of androgenicity in the gym.
The best T boosters tend to include D-AA, an ingredient which has been shown to increase even the testosterone levels of elite athletes.
This class of athlete exercises so much that their testosterone can become depleted. The same can happen to you if you are working out in the gym nearly every day and have all the stresses of life to deal with as well.
There are a lot of these supplements available, but not many are worth the container they come in. Luckily, I have found some of the better ones. Check out the link to read a helpful review.