Everyone is going green these days: It’s good for the environment and it’s good for you. It’s also a common suggestion when it comes to what kind of tea you should drink. While we’ve all heard that we should be drinking green tea for everything from healthier teeth to rapid fat loss to better overall health, we would humbly like to suggest that you include black tea, particularly if you want to reduce aches and pains—and for a guy like you who’s working out, this can be huge.
Researchers at Rutgers University in New Jersey found that when you take about 1,800 milligrams of black tea extract, you’ll notice a significant decline in muscle soreness following a hard workout. Michael Adrent, PhD, author of the study, believes that while antioxidants in tea reduce inflammation after a workout, they also “blunt muscular strain while you’re training.” Simply by drinking a couple cups of black tea each day you can obtain the same benefits. And if you’re not much of a tea drinker, try adding a cup of the stuff to your pre-workout shake or your morning oats instead of water. “Adding tea to your oatmeal instead of boiled water will add flavor and give you the benefit of the vital nutrients within the brew,” says Christian Stein, a nutritionist based in Texas.
It’s true: You can’t get far from the starting line running on an empty tank. We’ve nagged you to drink your recommended daily intake—proper hydration really can make or break a fit and healthy lifestyle. Moreover, it can mean the difference between an average performance—in the gym, on the court, on the field or at the office—and your best effort ever. If you’re competitive, you’d better know how important water is to victory—if you don’t, you may not win much of anything. So, the next time you are facing race day and want to optimize your performance, try this strategic approach.
1. PRACTICE WHAT YOU’LL DO ON THE DAY OF THE EVENT
Practice drinking the fluids that you intend to consume during the race in the same intervals and volume that you’ll use during the race—this will help you understand if you’re drinking enough to avoid dehydration. Losing an excessive amount of body fluids will compromise your body’s ability to cool itself, resulting in fatigue, impaired motor skills and heatstroke. Also, drink the right kinds of fluids in the right volume to avoid hyponatremia (an excessive loss of sodium that can lower blood volume and cause bloating, dizziness, fatigue, disorientation and poor coordination). It is impossible to drink the right kind of fluid in the right amount on race day if you haven’t practiced.
2. CHECK YOUR URINE OFTEN
A good indicator of whether you’re drinking the right volume of fluid is the color of your urine: The darker the urine, the greater the degree of dehydration. Your goal should be to produce urine that is nearly clear to light yellow—this is particularly important on the morning of race day to make sure that you start the race in a well-hydrated state. It’s also a good thing to check when you’re practicing your hydration strategy to make sure that your strategy works for you.
3. CHECK YOUR WEIGHT OFTEN
When you’re training, your body weight will often decrease. Get accustomed to checking your weight before and after you train. The difference in weight represents the amount of fluid you should have consumed during training but didn’t (one pint of fluid equals one pound of body weight). For instance, if you drink one pint of fluid during training but you’re still three pounds lighter after training, you have to figure out how to consume a total of four pints of fluid instead of one to keep your weight the same.
4. WORK ON GETTING AND STAYING WELL HYDRATED FROM THE MOMENT YOU GET UP
Be sure to drink plenty of fluids when you wake up on competition day, and keep checking your urine to make sure that it’s light in color. After your pre-race breakfast or snack (solid food consumption should be finished two or three hours before the event), keep sipping fluids every 10 to 15 minutes-right up until the time you start the race.
To find a good supplement in the sea of a large number of supplements available in the market today is a really difficult task. They all make tall claims but very few are actually able to deliver on their promises. In order to find the effectiveness of muscle rev Xtreme which is a muscle supplement recently launched in the market, we studied various muscle rev Xtreme reviews. Almost all the reviews that we read had the same thing to say about it: it is not recommended.
Muscle rev Xtreme for sale
The makers of this supplement have used various tactics in order to sell their product, including spreading wrong information about it. They have claimed their product to be clinically proven which is completely false as there is no detail of even a single test which has been done on this product. The clinical trials that they talk about are in fact tests done on the individual ingredients of the product, but how the combination of those ingredients in the form muscle rev Xtreme works has not been tested. Similarly, in order to attract a lot of customers, the company uses the names of big magazines and celebrities claiming that they recommend this product. But this again is completely false. A close study of the muscle rev Xtreme reviews and all these facts about the scam that it is clearly visible.
In order to give a boost to muscle rev Xtreme for sale purposes, the makers have used extensive marketing techniques and have brought out various combinations of this supplement with other supplements in order to try and give better results. The combination of muscle rev Xtreme and Sytropin is one such marketing gimmick only.
Muscle rev Xtreme and Sytropin
It is claimed that a combination diet of muscle rev Xtreme and Sytropin helps in increasing the fat, feed to the muscle and helps in building lean muscles in the body. Sytropin is a growth hormone while the muscle rev Xtreme helps in increasing the blood flow to the muscles, thus proving them with greater oxygen and nutrition. It is believed that while Sytropin helps in muscle building and growth, muscle rev Xtreme helps in the process. However, use of, growth hormone in the body is very risky and it has, therefore, has been banned in many parts of the world. To overcome this ban the makers of Sytropin have very smartly marketed the product as a ‘high releaser’ instead of straightforwardly calling it a growth hormone. This is pretty much equivalent to cheating the customers.
Doctor’s guidance must
Not just with this combination, but before subjecting your body to the unknown results of any supplement, it is important to consult your doctor or physician and discuss the various ingredients that are present in it, their possible effects and side effects and the necessary precautions that one must follow to avoid any major mishap from its intake. In case, you have already started taking this combination then you must keep your doctor updated about the various changes happening in your body so that they can guide you about the possible reactions that may be occurring as startups for some bigger problem. Most of this supplement including Sytropin and muscle rev Xtreme are available for sale without any prescription. This is very dangerous and no one should fall for the claims that they make and buy them without first discussing with your doctors.
Muscle Rev Xtreme and Sytropin and not recommended by any of the muscle rev Xtreme reviews that were available for reading. Surely there were certain paid reviews which boasted of the product and its effectiveness in giving men the lean ripped body but then these paid reviews cannot be trusted. In fact, one should completely ignore these reviews and base their decisions on the unbiased reviews and their doctor’s opinion.
An abs move that will help you establish a baseline upon which you can build a rock-solid midsection
The clichés are endless (“A chain is only as strong as its weakest link,” “A tree is only as strong as its trunk”) and, while we’re at it, let’s add another: “Your body is only as strong as its core.” Bask, if you wish, in your grand plan of building bulging limbs, a heaving chest, soaring shoulders and a badlands back, but that glorious dream will dissolve into the mists of illusion if you don’t have a powerful core—that comes first.
So, what’s your core? You can’t say it begins here and ends there, but, essentially, it’s the middle of your body: abdominal girdle, middle and lower back, erectors, hip flexors, glutes, to name a few. It’s the pillar of your body against which everything else is braced—the moral being that your body parts can’t lift weight that your core can’t support. Furthermore, your core is the only part of your body that gives you twisting power, or torque, without which you wouldn’t be able to roll out of bed in the morning, much less pick up that heavy weight beside you.
HANGING LEG RAISE
This exercise helps isolate and strengthen the rectus abdominis/hip flexors compound, relieving the back—and spine—of adverse strain and building more support for your core.
SET-UP: Hang from an overhead bar, legs straight, feet together. Flex your lats, abdominals and hip flexors to take up the slack in your hanging body.
ACTION: Raise your legs straight out in front of you as high as they will go, touching the overhead bar, if possible. Flex your lats and abs and decelerate as you lower your legs; this will help prevent body swing. Go to failure.
TIP: If you can’t raise your feet all the way to the bar, keep trying until you can; then, work on increasing your reps. Remember to accelerate up and decelerate down.
Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and a loaded barbell at your feet. Keeping your torso as upright as possible (never leaning forward at more than a 45-degree angle), squat down until your hands reach the bar. Grasp the bar with your arms traveling just outside your knees. Without rounding your shoulders forward or allowing your butt to shoot straight back, lift the weight by standing up. The power should come from your lower back, butt and quads (imagine driving your hips forward in a pelvic thrust that would do a porn star proud and you’ll get it right).
OBLIQUE CRUNCH WITH LEGS CROSSED
Side bends with weights only add thickness to your frame. This exercise helps carve out your obliques. The object here is to have your elbow almost touch the opposing knee. Keep your abs flexed throughout the entire movement if you want to see those abs of steel.
OBLIQUE CRUNCH WITH LEGS CROSSED
Side bends with weights only add thickness to your frame. This exercise helps carve out your obliques. The object here is to have your elbow almost touch the opposing knee. Keep your abs flexed throughout the entire movement if you want to see those abs of steel.
If you can’t see your abs it’s likely because you have too much fat covering them, or the muscles lack shape to pop out. Could be both. To counteract these ab-busting barriers, I have my clients follow these two simple principles.
THE PROTEIN PRINCIPLE
Pack your diet daily with six servings of protein, about 20 to 50 grams per serving, to keep your metabolism high. Protein will help fill you up so you eat fewer calories, and your muscles get the building blocks they need to become thicker and burn fat.
Instead of drinking water while working out, drink a shake at the gym, and have another at night before bed. These are two critical times when your muscles need protein and have the most potential for growth. Try a low-calorie protein shake with about 40 to 50 grams of a whey protein isolate. This helped me drop about five per cent body fat in three months.
THE PEAK PRINCIPLE
Don’t train your abs with a million reps at breakneck speed. Hold and flex your abs at the peak of each rep for two seconds, squeezing to eliminate momentum. You won’t be able to do more than 10 to 15 reps—your abs will be screaming. Shoot for four sets of each exercise.
YOUR INTENSE ABS PROGRAM
1. REVERSE CURLS
Brace yourself and stretch out your ribs. Start with your knees bent. This minimizes the hip flexor involvement and helps isolate your lower abs. In a smooth, controlled movement, roll your pelvis up towards your chest, pushing your lower back into the bench, and rolling up one vertebra at a time as far as you can. At the peak, hold and flex for two seconds. Roll back down to the start position, again using a slow, controlled motion. Hold for a moment, then repeat.
HANGING SIDE BENDS
Go slow and smooth. Curl your pelvis and spine to the right, bringing your knees up to the side. At the top, flex and hold for two seconds. Fight against gravity and control the descending movement until you reach the neutral position. Repeat on the other side.
SWISS BALL REACHING CRUNCH
Lie on the Swiss ball, so that your lower back rests on top. Hold your head up at a 45-degree angle, and focus on a spot on the ceiling. Point the medicine ball toward the focus spot. Curl your torso up as high as it can go, reaching for the spot. At the top, flex and hold for two seconds. In a controlled movement, curl back down, without releasing the abs. Stretch your midsection at the bottom of the rep, then repeat.
With your upper body stabilized, bring your knees in to your chest but lock the angle in your knee and hip joints. Get your butt off the floor at the top.
Turning to one side at a time, crunch up in the lateral plane as high as possible without pulling on your head.
The Group D Option
If 9–12 sets of progressively more chaotic abdominal work isn’t enough for you, try adding a D Group to your menu of exercises. These are exercises done for time (rather than reps) that target your abs differently than the moves in the other groups. Planks are isometric (no movement) moves that build strength in your deeper-lying transverse abdominis, which works to hold your abdominal wall tight to your spine. The mountain climber is speedy and dynamic — consider it cardio for your abs — and can help you scorch additional calories while also working your abs in a different way.
Pick one exercise from this group and do it at the end of your abs workout for three sets of 30 seconds. Add 10 seconds each week for a progressively tougher workout.
Maintain a straight spine as you lean your torso back 30–45 degrees. Twist at the core to the left and right.
On your forearms and toes, feel the burn in your abs as you align your legs and torso with your hips raised slightly. Don’t sag.
Keep your hands planted on the floor as you simultaneously alternate leg positions by swinging your back leg forward and the front leg back.
Building Your Multiple-Choice Abs Workout
Frequency: Perform this workout 2–3 times per week on nonconsecutive days. Use dedicated abs-training days, or do the workouts after your normal weight training.
Variety: Choose different moves each time to make variety one of the default traits of your program.
Sets: Choose one exercise from each group. Perform 3–4 straight sets of each move.
Focus: Use a mix of moves to hit the various areas of your abs in each workout, or pick moves that focus on one area for a single, focused abdominal thrashing. If you choose the latter option, simply pick a different abdominal focus for your next workout.
Rest: For Group A, rest 60 seconds between sets. For Group B, rest no more than 45 seconds between sets. For Group C, limit rest to 30 seconds between sets. Rest up to 60 seconds between exercise groups. Perform all sets of one exercise before moving on to the next group.
Control: On each exercise, perform the reps under control to engage the most abdominal muscle possible.
Resistance: If you find you can complete more than the target number of reps on the first set, simply adjust on the next by adding some resistance or slowing down the movement.
This lab-tested strategy could help burn fat directly from your abs. Many experts assert you can’t lose fat preferentially from your abs through training. There is some evidence, however, that spot reduction may not be a myth after all. A 2006 study published in the American Journal of Physiology showed that subjects were actually able to mobilize more fat cells in trained muscle by following high-rep, bodypart-specific training with cardio. Researchers at the University of Copenhagen (Denmark) had male subjects perform single-leg extensions with light weight for 30 minutes straight. They found that the working leg experienced a significant increase in blood flow to and lipolysis (release of fat) from the subcutaneous fat cells. This means that the fat cells surrounding the trained muscle released more fat into the blood, and therefore into the working muscle, to be used as fuel.
Researchers went on to suggest that by following bodypart-specific training with low-to-moderate intensity cardio, the released fat is more likely to be shuttled away to other areas of the body for use, rather than redeposited at the point of release. It’s unclear just how effective this type of training might be, but the study does show that spot reduction is not as mythical as you may have thought.
Try This: On abs day, go through your workout as prescribed to mobilize the fat around your midsection, and then hit the treadmill for a 20–30-minute jog. Or fire up your metabolism with 3–5 minutes of jump-rope exercises.
Vary your degree of difficulty and rep counts to build three-dimensional six-pack abs that are strong and chiseled. Here’s our three-step blueprint.
“Look at those abs on you!” Even the most modest among us would like to hear these words directed at us. We all want great-looking abs, but there’s no one-size-fits-all program to get them. In the highly complex world of physique building, you’ll find elements of plans that’ll work well for your body, and even some entire programs that deliver the results exactly as promised. But the inherent rigidity of sticking unfailingly to one plan — or as I like to call it, program monogamy — all but ensures setbacks and plateaus. This abs program empowers you with the benefit of choice. Just follow a few general guidelines, and you become the architect of your own abdominal destiny.
Reach Your Abdominal Potential
Believe it or not, the degree of awesomeness your abs can achieve is largely a function of genetics. Next on the list is nutrition and many guys could definitely afford a healthy-eating makeover to help get rid of the layer of flab that’s obscuring their abdominal muscles. One thing you have complete control over is the training stimulus you create in the gym — the work required to exact dramatic fat reductions and aesthetic upgrades to your midsection. Unfortunately, some guys tend to be shortsighted in this area. By choosing the same tired exercises and rep ranges each week, by failing to take advantage of proven muscle-building principles, and by fearing the pain threshold where results are gained, you’ll squander your abdominal potential.
The program laid out here puts you in charge of exercise selection and capitalizes on several abs-training strategies that can help you build a midsection that’s at once muscular, streamlined and defined.
In sum, because of the nature of the muscle-fiber makeup of your midsection, an overall approach that best strengthens, builds up and defines your abs is one that:
Trains your abs for strength to boost total-body strength and stability.
Trains them for shape, building up the ridges of your six-pack.
Trains them for endurance, boosting the number of calories you burn and helps keep your midsection defined.
When you combine all three approaches in the same workout, in this order, you’re left with a set of abs that’s both strong and sharp, one that screams aesthetics as well as athletics.
Choose Your Own Ab-venture
The mechanics of this program are simple. You’ll choose one exercise from each group.
Group A consists of exercises that are at the top of the difficulty spectrum — moves that will likely induce failure at 10 reps or just short of it. If you find that you can do more, add resistance (when possible) or slow down the movement to increase the difficulty. Just make sure you’re failing at that rep range.
In Group B you’ll find the moves that really begin to etch detail in your abs. They’re more middle-of-the-road in terms of difficulty and induce failure around 10–15 reps.
The Group C exercises are the easiest of the bunch and allow you to complete more reps for the final coup de grâce on your abs each time you train them. These moves are designed to take you to failure well above the 15-rep range but no more than 30.
Three Ways to a Six-Pack
On any given day, you really need only three exercises to set off the abdominal fire that is the hallmark of a great workout. But you should be as judicious in your programming as you are for any other bodypart, taking into account your various training goals. Many physique-minded athletes train their bodies three ways — for strength, shape and endurance — which ensures they’re hitting various muscle-fiber types while also leaving comfort zones in their rearviews. And that’s how you should be training your abs.
Everyone wants stronger arms, a stronger chest or stronger legs. Why isn’t anyone ardent about
abdominal strength? A strong set of abs — not just the superficial rectus abdominis, but also the obliques and deep transverse abdominis — is an essential component of performance for pretty much
everything. In fact, powerlifters — who specialize in the bench press and deadlift — are known for having the strongest cores in the fitness world because of the abdominal strength required to stabilize the torso in these foundational lifts. Many lifters who perform major vertically loaded lifts such as the deadlift and front squat feel a deep soreness in their core — a clear indicator of the demand placed on these muscles. So it makes sense that strength training for your abs — keeping the reps in the 8–10 range — should also be one of your primary goals in the gym. Choose the toughest exercises — moves that have you begging for mercy and unable to complete more than 10 reps — early in the workout when you’re strongest. Training against heavier resistance has another benefit: It fires up your abs in a way they’re likely unaccustomed to, which is always a good thing for altering body composition.
No one wants a “flat tummy.” If that’s your thing, then you should be watching a Jane Fonda DVD.
No, we’re about deeply channeled abs with that signature, eye-catching pop. Marathon sets of crunches, while not wholly ineffective, do very little to build this kind of muscular hypertrophy. Your abdominal wall is largely comprised of slow-twitch, endurance-based muscle fibers, which are hard at work throughout the day maintaining your posture for normal activities. To get them to stand out, you’re going to have to choose moderately difficult exercises that trigger muscular failure at around 10–15 reps. This creates the stimulus needed to add some density to your abs, enhancing the definition of the channels, or tendinous inscriptions, that frame your sixer. And don’t worry — contrary to what many will tell you, training this way will not make you blocky or bulky through the middle.
Your abs are built for endurance. If they only had, say, an hour’s worth of trunk stability stored up, people everywhere would collapse into their oatmeal over breakfast. So knowing these muscles can go and go with Energizer Bunny-like gusto, what’s the best training method? Well, a nation of never-changing abs tells us that going high reps most of the time is simply not getting the job done. If you dive into epic sets of crunches as soon as you lie back on the mat, your abs are not likely to get much of a test. But if you relegate the volume work — think higher, not just “high” reps — to the end of your workout, after you’ve done several sets of heavier moves, you’re more likely to get results. With your fast-twitch fibers fully exhausted from prior work and unable to truly aid in the execution of the exercise, your slow-twitch muscle fibers really get put to the test. As a bonus, the higher tally of reps means more calories burned during the workout.
While meal replacement powders (MRPs) won’t make you lean or give you huge muscles overnight, they can be an important element to a solid nutritional program. As such, MRPs are one of the key supplements available for everyone interested in developing a quality physique.
MRPs are precisely what the name suggests they are: quick and convenient replacements for meals. The good ones will give you plenty of high-grade protein along with a wide-variety of other nutrients that are usually lacking in stand alone protein powders.The importance of eating small, frequent meals (4-6 meals per day) is now almost universally accepted in the elite fitness community. Without MRPs, this can become a daunting task. I mean who wants or has the time to prepare six well-balanced, protein-rich meals day in and day out? That’s where 2-3 MRPs per day can really make a significant difference.
Some people complain about the cost of MRPs, but quite frankly I don’t know anywhere else where you can get such a well-balanced meal for only a couple of bucks . . . they’re a nutritional bargain no matter how you slice it. I think a quality MRP is a must-have in terms of getting in adequate amounts of protein without driving yourself crazy preparing food. I personally use at least 2 or 3 per day.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
When selecting an MRP, you want to make certain that its nutritional content matches up with your health and fitness goals.Are you looking to get lean? Then you certainly want to make sure your MRP is low in fat and, especially, low in sugar. Nothing will derail your fat-shredding efforts like a high sugar content. Stick with MRPs that are below 10 grams in sugar; below 5 grams is even better!
Are you trying to add muscle mass? If so, you’ll need lots of protein. Select MRPs that have at least 30 grams of quality protein per serving.
There are many solid MRPs on the market. The key is for you to find one that meets your specific nutritional needs and tastes good! What follows are my top specific choices.
THE MOST VALUABLE MRP
The Myoplex line from EAS is the top-selling MRP, the MVP of MRPs if you like. There are flavors and varieties for every taste. Indeed, one of my favorite things about the Myoplex MRPs is that there are so many flavors and varieties to select from. Regular Myoplex is a great everyday MRP. With a whooping 42 grams of high-quality, muscle-building protein and a measly 2 grams of fat and 3 grams of sugar per serving, Myoplex is a can’t miss MRP for keeping you lean and tight year round. All the flavors are pretty tasty, but I particularly like the chocolate lovers pack.
If gaining weight and adding muscle mass fast is your goal, then Myoplex Mass is your MRP of choice. This is a moderate protein and high carb product with 33 grams of protein and 76 grams of carbohydrates. Each serving has a full 500 calories. I’ve found that taking 2 servings of Myoplex Mass a day is a great way for most people to gain weight by easily adding 1,000 calories to the diet.If weight loss and fat reduction is what you’re after, the Myoplex product line has an answer for you as well: it’s called Myoplex Lite and this quality MRP has only 190 calories per serving. And those calories are truly quality calories with only 1.5 grams of fat and a solid 25 grams of protein to fuel your fat-burning furnace.
I like the Myoplex products, use them myself, and have no hesitations about recommending them.
MRPs FOR WOMEN
Women who train hard and watch their diets have unique nutritional needs. It makes sense that women should select an MRP designed to meet those individual needs. The best MRP product on the market designed specifically for women is Lean Body For Her from Labrada.
BEYOND THE MRP . . . BIOACTIVE SUPERFOOD
Finally, a new product called Micellean from VPX Sports is something I’ve been using a lot of lately. It has a very clean taste, no artificial sweeteners, and great protein content. It’s a bit pricey, but very high quality. With 45 grams of sustained release protein, a super-high fiber content of 7.5 grams, and only 2 grams of sugar per serving, Micellean is truly the cutting-edge of MRPs for those looking to add muscle mass and get lean NOW!
Conjugated linoleic acid just might be your ticket to more muscle and less fat.
CLA is one of the few nutraceutical-type supplement ingredients that has received GRAS approval by the FDA,” says Michael Pariza, PhD, one of the leading scientists in the field of CLA. What this means for Joe Obesity—representing nearly one-third of the population in the United States—is that in the near future he’ll feel better about himself for drinking a quart of chocolate milk because it contains CLA. But before CLA hits the food chain, there’s plenty of evidence to show that you shouldn’t wait for the wave; you should paddle out and get some of your own—ASAP.
In the Lab
CLA refers to a collection of fatty acids that are found in meats and milk, and the fact is,
your body needs CLA. Why? The current CLA journey began in 1987, when Pariza—then a researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison—discovered that the fatty acid, which was known to exist as far back as the late 1930s, actually had biological activity. Pariza and his associates found that CLA was an anti-carcinogen and were feeding it to mice in an effort to understand how it suppressed tumor growth. They noticed profound changes in the body composition of the mice they were studying. Since then, CLA has continued to show potent cancer-fighting effects in animal studies, but they haven’t been proven in humans. That doesn’t mean that CLA is worthless, though.
In the Weight Room
Multiple studies have shown that CLA helps reduce body fat in obese and overweight populations. But the question has always been this: Though CLA can help the fat guy on the couch go from a size 56 pair of jeans to a size 44, can it help the guy in the gym go from 16% body fat to 10%? A slew of promising research has come to light over the past few years showing that CLA’s greatest potential might be for those who are seriously interested in getting leaner and stronger.
In contrast to this fatty acid’s reputation as a fat burner only for the obese, scientists in Norway conducted a study on healthy subjects who trained in a gym for 90 minutes a day three times a week. At the end of 12 weeks, the group who took CLA lost significantly more body fat than the placebo group. A more recent study showed that CLA is a natural addition for guys who are truly living the Reps! active lifestyle. Researchers at the College of Kinesiology at the University of Sakatchewan in Saskatoon took three groups of strength-trained subjects and gave one group a mix of CLA, creatine and whey protein. The other subjects received either just creatine and whey or a placebo. After five weeks, the group that took all three supplements experienced greater increases in bench-press strength, leg-press strength and lean mass than the other two groups combined.
CLA seems to have similarly synergistic abilities when it comes to burning fat. A study published in the journal Lipids in Health and Disease showed that when CLA was combined with green tea extract (one of the main active ingredients in most fat burner formulations), it led to a decrease in body fat.
CLA could also be a perfect complement to caffeine. While everyone’s favorite stimulant is a potent fat burner, it’s in danger of being overused in the post-ephedra era. After all, there is a limit to how much caffeine your nervous system can handle. The beauty is, caffeine aids fat loss by triggering the release of norepinephrine—a completely different avenue than CLA takes.
“CLA has direct effects on both the fat cell and the skeletal muscle cell,” explains Pariza. “When you eat fat, there are only two things you can do with it: burn it or store it. You burn it in the skeletal muscle and you store it in the fat cells. CLA keeps fat cells from storing fat and stimulates muscle cells to burn fat.”
At the Table
It’s easier than ever to get an efficacious amount of CLA in your diet. First of all, two major reputable brands, Tonalin and Clarinol, supply most of the CLA to manufacturers. One makes CLA from safflower oil and one from sunflower oil—both of which are nearly identical in their molecular structure. Secondly, experts have finally agreed on a daily dosage.
“Three grams a day,” says Pariza. “When we started, we weren’t quite sure, so we were basing it on what we thought could potentially come from your diet if you eat a lot of foods that are high in CLA. It turns out, in clinical trials, three grams a day is the level that seems to produce the maximum effect; if you go up to six or nine grams a day, you’re not getting much more benefit.” It’s clearly not a case of more is better, a not uncommon mindset for many gymgoers.
It used to be nearly impossible to get your CLA from food because the amount of dietary fat you’d need to eat would be counterproductive to trying to get lean. But a few things have changed that make the idea of getting the requisite three grams through food fairly realistic. For one, the nutritional stigma of consuming animal-based fats has slowly gone the way of the rice cake, and most physique-conscious guys have loosened the reins on fat while curbing their carb intake. In fact, adherents of the currently popular Paleo or Primal diets will consume up to 50% of their daily calories from fat (mostly animal sources) while eschewing all grains and consuming less than 100 grams of carbs a day. These so-called “evolutionary diets” also place an emphasis on eating meat and dairy products from grass-fed animals, and studies show that milk from grass-fed cows contains 500% percent more CLA than commercial milk, while beef from pastured animals has 550% more CLA than conventionally raised grain-fed cows.
Pastured meat is a self-fulfilling prophecy when it comes to CLA because grass-fed meat also contains more trans-vaccenic acid (TVA), a trans fatty acid that has been proven to help fight diabetes, obesity and heart disease. (Don’t get thrown off by the word trans fat. Naturally occurring trans fats are much different than the ones you’ve been warned about in margarine and fried foods.) In addition, TVA is a dietary precursor to CLA—meaning that it will convert into CLA in the body. In fact, subjects fed TVA are shown to exhibit more CLA in their system than those who consume the same amount of supplemental CLA.
While the health, environmental and body-altering benefits of consuming pastured meat and dairy products continue to mount, Pariza still recommends supplementing. CLA actually refers to a collection of 28 isomers—compounds that contain the same molecular formulas but different structural formulas. The majority of CLA is composed of two types of isomers, known as cis-9-trans-11 and cis-10-trans-12—or better known as 9/11 and 10/12. The latter seem to be responsible for the beneficial changes in body composition, although both are anti-carcinogens in different ways and a synergy exists between the two. Since the ratios in milk and meat can change depending on feed and the genetics of the animal, Pariza feels that supplements are the best way to guarantee ingesting the optimal ratio.
In the Pipeline
Ultimately, scientists feel that they have just begun to scratch the surface of CLA’s potential. Even though it has been studied vigorously for nearly 25 years, new upsides continue to emerge.
“I’d say one of the most interesting things is the possibility that it has very pronounced effects on the immune system,” says Pariza. “One of the things it does in animals—and there is evidence emerging that it does this in humans as well—is reduce symptoms of asthma. It helps with hypersensitivity reactions, so people who have hay fever problems will often report anecdotally that they are taking CLA and feel better.”
If CLA has the power to bolster our immune systems, making us feel better more often, that means it will keep us in the gym longer and more consistently. That could be its true power when it comes to helping us build muscle and burn fat.
Pass the Marsupial
It has long been known that milk and meat are the main dietary sources of CLA. Over the past several years, it has been discovered that pastured animals—cattle and dairy cows that are grass-fed rather than grain-fed—can contain five times more CLA than conventionally raised animals. But even more recently, the single richest source of CLA has been discovered: the kangaroo.
Don’t be surprised. Over two million kangaroos are harvested for their meat every year. (They are far from endangered, as there are 48 different species and more than 35 million kangaroos in Australia.) Most of the meat goes into dog and cat food, but kangaroo steaks began popping up in Australian supermarkets with more frequency a few years ago with the outbreak of mad cow disease. Considering that kangaroo meat is loaded with high-quality protein, CLA, iron and zinc, more of us might consider throwing another ’roo on the Bar-B.
Best Sources of CLA
Since CLA is found primarily in meat and dairy products, the list of foods with a high concentration of CLA is a short-ish one. You can try both Tonalin and Clarinol—CLA supplements that can be found at most health and fitness stores. Vegans are pretty much stuck with mushrooms and sunflower oil—both of which are high in linoleic acid. Human breast milk is also high in CLA, but you’re liable to get arrested if you try to tap that from the source.