Everything you need to know about dieting, supplements, food and lifestyle – continued



No matter your genetics or the goals you've set for yourself, you need to follow the rules of bodybuilding nutrition if your hard training is going to pay off. Here's the third part in our weekly, seven-part series.

Known for its immunity-enhancing properties, glutamine is not only one of the most prevalent aminos in the body, but also one of the most important for bodybuilders. If you are overly stressed from dieting or training, supplementing with glutamine allows your body to maintain its storage supply of glutamine in muscle tissue, enhancing overall muscular growth and recovery. Take 10-40 g of glutamine a day, spread over 3-4 servings, with food.

Supplementing with creatine can provide bodybuilders with tremendous benefits, including faster recovery from intense weight training, decreased postexercise muscle soreness and increases in muscle mass. Take 5 g of creatine, once or twice a day around training.

Take a multi with breakfast each and every day for insurance. Being low in any vitamin can cause breaks in the blueprint of muscle construction. A fast-food world combined with the demands of bodybuilding training can leave you short of a host of micronutrients. That's bad when you consider that many of them are needed for the things an ironhead is most interested in, such as building muscle and burning bodyfat.

Take a mix of antioxidants; a good cocktail has an anticatabolic effect by quenching free radicals formed during and after intense exercise. In your antioxidant regimen, include FLEX's top candidates: 400-800 international units (IU) of vitamin E, 500-1,000 milligrams (mg) of vitamin C, 200 micrograms of selenium (from selenium yeast). Get the rest from 5-6 servings of fruits and vegetables per day.

Use thermogenic supplements sparingly and intelligently to reduce bodyfat. Supplements containing caffeine can help curb appetite, boost metabolism, enhance workouts and preserve muscle mass during a cutting phase. The side effects are irksome for some trainers, but they usually can be avoided by starting with a low dose in the morning only and working up to the recommended dose of 200-400 mg caffeine three times per day over two or three weeks. Do not exceed the recommended dose. Do this consistently for at least three months to achieve significant fat loss. Check with your doctor before taking thermogenics if you suffer from depression or other psychiatric conditions.

Try adding arginine to your supplement mix. Arginine, a conditionally essential amino acid, seems promising in the muscle-building department. Arginine improves blood flow and enhances the growth of muscles lengthwise (new contractile units are built onto muscle at a faster rate when arginine is given to developing rats). Arginine may also enhance immune function in athletes, especially when combined with glutamine. Try 3-5 g before and immediately after training. If you train at night, make sure your post-workout does doesn't contain stimulants, lest you jeopardize your sleep.

Take extra calcium and magnesium. If you look at the label of any once-daily multivitamin, you'll notice a "mineral gap" – a place where certain minerals should be listed. Even if they're included, most multis contain only a small percentage of the Daily Value (% DV) of calcium, magnesium and potassium. Calcium is important for fat-burning metabolism, magnesium for training performance and potassium for muscle cell volume. A once-daily multivitamin simply doesn't cut it. Correct the situation by taking 1,000 mg per day of supplement-source calcium (or two to three cups of fat-free dairy products), 450 mg of magnesium, and five or six servings of fruits and vegetables per day (for potassium as well as other micronutrients).

Give the amino acid tyrosine a try to prevent burnout caused by lack of sleep, stress and/or use of thermogenic supplements. Taking 1-4 g of it early in the day is recommended. In studies using military personnel as subjects, tyrosine was shown to increase performance under stress. It is a precursor to fat-burning hormones that stimulate norepinephrine.

Take a high-potency omega-3 fatty acid supplement such as flaxseed or fish oil. The omega-3s in fish oil capsules (EPA and DHA) are more potent than the one in flaxseed oil at stimulating fat metabolism, reducing muscle catabolism, reducing wear and tear on the joints and improving mood and cognitive performance, but both are acceptable. Take 6 g per day of 30% omega-3 fish oil extract (or 2 g per day of the newer 90% omega-3 fish oil extract) for best results, or 40 g of flaxseed oil per day added to shakes, salads or other food items.

ZMA is a specifically formulated combination of zinc and magnesium. The benefits of ZMA supplementation include improved recovery due to enhanced sleep efficiency and increased anabolic hormone levels, as well as greater gains in muscle strength and power. For best results, take ZMA on an empty stomach before bedtime. Follow label recommendations for dosage.