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Do You Know Which Supplements Should You Be Cycling and Which You Should Not?
- Updated: July 27, 2015
By Jeff Behar, CEO MuscleMagFitness.com – Are you Wasting your money but not knowing how to take your Supplements? Before or After Training? Full or Empty Stomach?
Dietary supplements are big business; a multi-billion dollar one. You only have to walk into a health food store, or these days a grocery store to see this. Many supplements are BS, many under dosed. For those that work, they only work when you know how to take them (some items can be taken at multiple times under multiple conditions).
No Worries your Bodybuilding Supplement Sherpa is here
With over 38 years in the game: 30 years competitive bodybuilder, personal trainer and health and fitness writer, NPC Judge and and a current NPC National Level bodybuilder, I am here to help navigate you through the maize of supplement usage.
In this article we will discuss which supplements you need to cycle (go on and off) and which you do not.
When it comes to Optimally Using Supplements – Timing is Everything
– Upon waking? e.g., whey protein, BCAAs, caffeine
Breakfast? e.g., multivitamins, B complex, Vitamin C, D, E, calcium, fish oil, etc.
– Empty stomach? E.g. Nitric Oxide (NOx) products, several types of fat burners
– Full stomach? e.g., multi mineral vitamin
– Pre-workout (e.g., Pro Fight Unleash, caffeine, Pre workout formulas, BCAAs, whey protein, creatine, glutamine, beta-alanine 2-3g, etc.)
– Post workout? e.g., glutamine, creatine, Beta-Alanine 2-3g, Fast Carbs 20- 50 g
– Before, during or after the workout? e.g., whey protein, homopolysaccharides (/made up of many monosaccharides joined together)
– On restricted calories and high work output only (e.g., HMB)
– Before bed? Glutamine, Casein protein
– Cycling (3 weeks on Two off or something similar) (e.g., pro hormones, etc.
Knowing what to use, when and which need to be cycled can be a minefield for an experienced athlete, never mind to the new weightlifter.
What is Cycling?
The concept of cycling isn’t exactly new to bodybuilding. If you diet, you likely cycle your carbs, and fats. But what is supplement cycling and which ones need to be cycled and when?
What is Supplement Cycling?
Supplement cycling is using your supplement for a period of time, say 3 weeks, then taking a period of time off from using the supplement so your body can be cleared and the supplement used more efficiently and provide the desired effects.
The most common example that the everyday, non-bodybuilder may be aware of is caffeine and/or sleeping or pain pills. Failure to cycle these results in the need to take more of each and the eventual failure of them to provide the desired benefits.
Why Cycle Supplements?
Cycling supplements can be helpful as well. For instance, if you have a Pre-workout drink every day, you’ll notice it may not have quite the kick it once did. It’s possible to develop a tolerance to the many ingredients that give you that kick (caffeine, guarana, green tea extract, yohimbine etc.). At which point you need to drink even more just to achieve the same effect. The continued use of caffeine throughout the day, may increase your tolerance to the ingredient. This will make it more difficult to get the same effects from your pre-workout you did the first few times you used it. In fact, chronic exposure to stimulants can actually leave you with less energy and more fatigue. It may also lead to adrenal fatigue (Check out Why you May be Tired All Day and Wired at Night, www.mybesthealthportal.net/health/hot-topics/adrenal-fatigue.htm). For this reason, cycling your pre-workout intake is recommended.
If you’re dependent on a daily pre-workout (or other forms of caffeine), I recommended cycling off every 6 weeks to give your body a chance to reset so you can get a better more desired effect, and at lower dosages. It’s healthier and you will save money too.
Use a natural product that has less chance to affect your adrenals. My choice Pro Fight Pitbull Lean Xtrim. PITTBULL LEAN XTRIM™ is a powerful, thermogenic based formula that combines four different mechanisms meticulously designed to help achieve maximum fat loss, extreme mental responsiveness and superior energy levels. This powerful stack will help to keep you Lean, Focused and Energized with the use of natural, research-proven ingredients! Xtrim Blend™ is a unique, thermogenic proprietary blend of two powerful herbal extracts with an amino acid designed to help stimulate fat loss while simultaneously encouraging the addition of lean body mass. It works by safely raising metabolism, optimizing the thyroid function, helps to reduce appetite and most importantly by increasing lean body mass; the best way to eliminate fat permanently!
To help increase thermogenesis, (the body’s natural process of converting fat into energy), we have also included the natural and stimulating properties of Green Tea Extract, Guarana, Citrus Aurantium and Bioperine®. Additionally, to inject the body with energy and stamina, we have included natural herbs such as Ginseng and Guarana as well B-Complex that also help support the process of converting stored fat into energy. Available at Amazon, http://profightsports.com/ and Bodybuilding.com
Use a stimulant-free pre-workout. Pro Fight Sports Supplements offers a good one, Pitbull Wild. Like its stimulant Namesake, Pitbull Lean Xtrim, this stimulant free product: Naturally enhances thermogenesis, Decreases body fat, Maximizes muscle definition, Increases energy and stamina levels. Enhances mental function and focus, Enhances memory retention, Suppresses appetite, No crashing effect and no need to cycle on and off. Available at Amazon, http://profightsports.com/ and Bodybuilding.com
Along with your pre-workout, a number of other nutritional supplements can and should be cycled to maximize health and performance benefits. What supplements should you consider cycling, and how should it be done? Let’s take a look at three additional categories.
Thermogenic Fat Burners
Thermogenic fat burners can be similar to pre-workout supplements because they contain some of the same stimulants to help rev your metabolism and suppress your appetite. Because of their high caffeine content, thermogenics can cause the same elevation in cortisol levels discussed with pre-workouts. Cortisol breaks down muscle tissue. It can also increase body fat storage, defeating the whole purpose of taking a fat burner. As cortisol levels creep up with the continued use of thermogenics, the once-noticeable fat burning effects of the supplement can be negated by the fat storing effects of cortisol. To avoid this, I suggest using fat burners for 3 weeks and cycling off for 2 weeks, to help to keep cortisol levels low.
A second option would be to rotate your fat burners with stimulant-free fat burners—those that don’t contain ingredients like caffeine and yohimbine. Examples include the use of L-Carnitine, Pyruvate, Omega-3 and CLA. This will help reduce the likelihood of becoming tolerant and also raising the nasty cortisol levels that stop fat burning in its tracks! While you can take the non-thermo fat burners individually, I like using Pro Fight Sports C.C.B Product.
C.C.B. is a unique and revolutionary fat loss formula loaded with high dosages of L-Carnitine, Calcium Pyruvate and B-Complex along with Alpha Lipoic Acid and Vitamin C. Through this powerful and precise combination of natural ingredients, athletes can confidently count on C.C.B. to maximize: the fat loss process, increase energy levels and promote addition of lean muscle mass.
C.C.B. works by increasing the use of fatty acids as an energy source hence aiding the production of energy from food. C.C.B. also helps to inhibit fat production and increase performance levels during exercise by transporting glucose and protein directly into muscle cells. This extremely effective and healthy formula when combined with a sensible diet and exercise will help you reach your fat loss goals, without unnatural and potentially dangerous ingredients such as Ephedra, Ma Haung, caffeine and metabolic enhancers. C.C.C contains a propriety blend of non stim fat burners (If IO told you I would have to kill you), and also includes:
L-Carnitine, Calcium Pyruvate, Alpha Lipoic Acid, all the major B-Vitamins (1,2,5,6,12), Vitamin C, Niacin, Folic Acid,. L-Tyrosine and Vanadium Sulfate. Does Not Contain: Sugar, artificial colors, artificial flavors or preservatives. DOES NOT CONTAIN CAFFEINE. Available at Amazon, http://profightsports.com/ and Bodybuilding.com
Testosterone Boosters (and other Pro Hormones)
Testosterone boosters are a class of herbal supplements aimed at increasing your body’s natural production of testosterone. They claim to allow you to increase muscle size and strength more quickly than with resistance training alone. Many do NOT work. I have found a few that do. I like Pro Fight Power Test. Why, because at, my age my Testosterone (Test) levels are lower. Power Test is designed to naturally boost Testosterone levels in the body. It also helps increase GH, IGFI and IGFII levels which are key to gaining muscle and losing fat. Power Test also increases the body basal metabolic rate, accelerates protein synthesis (builds muscle), increases energy and stamina and shortens recovery times.
These supplements need to be used with care, because when taken to long or at too high dosages your body’s natural production of hormones may be disrupted. Your body may become so dependent on them that it slows down its natural production of testosterone hormone. If you choose to use test boosters (or any pro hormone, like estrogen blockers), I recommend a cycle of eight weeks on followed by four weeks off.
As the name suggests, sleep aids are designed to give you a more restful, undisturbed night’s sleep. Many individuals who use fat burners or stimulant-based pre-workouts also use sleep aids to help them unwind at the end of the day and fall asleep faster. Natural sleep aids include: melatonin, 5-hydroxy L-Tryptophan (5-HTP), and tryptophan, etc.
Sleep aids are designed to give you a more restful, undisturbed night’s sleep.
Melatonin, a hormone naturally produced in your body, helps to establish the circadian rhythms of several physiological functions in your body, including sleep and blood-pressure regulation is one of the more popular sleep aids.
L-tryptophan (naturally found in foods like turkey), an essential amino acid is also a very popular sleep aid. How it works: tryptophan is converted to 5-HTP, which is then converted into serotonin. The serotonin then converts to melatonin, which makes our body’s biological clock run smoothly and tell us when it is time to go to sleep and when it’s time to haul yourself out of bed. Since tryptophan is the only amino acid that can convert to serotonin, it is also the only one that can ultimately up your melatonin.
Taking too much natural sleep aids can disrupt your body’s natural secretion of certain sleep hormones, making it nearly impossible to fall asleep without its use. Additionally, side effects of sleeping aids can leave you feeling groggy in the morning and may even cause small changes in blood pressure. Treat sleep aids as a temporary solution and use them only for two weeks at a time.
Other options include using non habit forming and non-hormone disrupting sleep aids, like magnesium and calcium. They help sleep in a different way. Magnesium and calcium when taken together become effective sleep boosters my calming muscles and nerves. Take 200 milligrams of magnesium —lower the dose if it causes diarrhea—and 600 milligrams of calcium each night.
Supplements You Don’t Need To Cycle (go on and off)
BCAAs (Branch Chain Amino Acids), NOx supplements, protein powders, Creatine (most people cycle this but do NOT have to), glutamine, CLA, Pyruvate, Carnitine, Joint Protection Factors JPF-1, like glucosmamine choindroin and MSM), multivitamins, beta-alanine, and omega-3 fatty acids, are all examples of supplement ingredients that do NOT disrupts the body’s natural processes, so cycling them and consuming them long term has no discernible effects.
My source of these supplement ingredients is also Pro Fight Sports Supplements available from bodybuilding.com, amazon and profightsports.com
Why do use Pro Fight Supplements?
They make high quality, no china contamination, no dusting (low dosing), and nothing is in it that is not on the label.
About the Author Jeff Behar
Jeff Behar, MS, MBA, is a well-known health, fitness, wellness author and anti aging, champion natural bodybuilder (2014 Masters Grand Prix Champion, 2015 California State Masters Champion), and a recognized health, fitness and nutrition expert with over 30 years of experience in the health, fitness, disease prevention, nutrition, and anti-aging fields.
As a recognized health, fitness and nutrition expert, Jeff Behar’s has been featured on several radio shows, TV, and in several popular bodybuilding publications such as Flex, Ironman and in several highly regarded peer reviewed scientific journals. Jeff Behar is also the CEO and founder www.MuscleMagFitness.com and www.MyBesthealthPortal.com and a Medical Commentator on exercise for The American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine, the worlds largest medical academy for anti-aging and regenerative medicine, provides medical professionals with the latest Anti-Aging, regenerative, functional and metabolic medicine.
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