With the right plan and the right discipline, you can get seriously shredded in just 28 days.Read article
Categories: HL, MB, EP, FL
Benefits: NAC is a powerful antioxidant that protects muscle cells from oxidative damage and aids their recovery. It has also been shown in clinical studies to improve muscle endurance and even enhance fat loss. If that weren’t enough, research shows that NAC works to boost nitric oxide (NO) levels, too.
Dosage: 600–1,200mg of NAC with your pre-workout shake or with a meal
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Benefits: This form of the amino acid tyrosine is more bioavailable than regular tyrosine supplements, meaning that it is absorbed and used more effectively by the body than plain tyrosine. The amino increases energy, boosts mental focus, elevates mood, aids fat loss, raises muscle strength, and can even boost sex drive.
Dosage: 100–300mg when you need a boost, such as 30–60 minutes before workouts
NICOTINAMIDE ADENINE DINUCLEOTIDE (NADH)
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Benefits: NAD, formed from vitamin B3 (niacin), is a coenzyme molecule that is found in all living cells and is essential for energy production. A form of it—NADH—is directly involved in several chemical reactions that produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Having more NADH available makes more ATP available and, hence, your body has more energy throughout the day and more muscle endurance during workouts.
Dosage: Take 5–20mg when you need a boost. It is best to take it without food.
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Benefits: Norvaline is a derivative of the branched-chain amino acid (BCAA) valine. Research has shown that this modified amino acid can boost NO levels by more than 50%. In addition, norvaline also indirectly raises growth hormone (GH) levels in the body, for greater gains in muscle mass and strength. Taking norvaline with arginine or citrulline (which is converted into arginine in the body) provides a synergistic effect that raises NO levels.
Dosage: Take 100–250mg daily
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Benefits: Octacosanol, an alcohol, is the main component of naturally occurring wax in fruits and other plants. It has been shown to increase grip strength, enhance reaction time, and even increase aerobic performance in athletes. Although the exact mechanism for its effects is unknown, several scientists suggest that octacosanol indirectly plays a role in strength development by acting on the central nervous system (CNS).
Dosage: Octacosanol supplements are usually derived from wheat-germ oil, sugar cane wax, or spinach concentrate. Supplied as a capsule or tablet, take 1,000–10,000mcg (1–10mg) of octacosanol one or two times per day with meals, but do not exceed 20,000mcg (20mg) per day. The higher the fat content of the meal, the better the absorption of octacosanol. On workout days, take one of those doses about four hours prior to exercise. Another option is to take wheat-germ oil (one or two tablespoons per day with meals), which provides a little more than 1,000mcg of octacosanol per tablespoon.
ORNITHINE/ORNITHINE ALPHA-KETOGLUTARATE (OKG)
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Benefits: Ornithine is an amino acid that the body uses to form arginine as well as leucine and glutamine. Therefore, it shares similar properties with these amino acids, such as increasing NO production, energy, muscle recovery, and growth; blunting fatigue and muscle breakdown; and improving immune function and fat burning. Taking ornithine and arginine together has been shown to boost GH levels well.
Dosage: 1–2g of L-ornithine or ornithine alpha-ketoglutarate on an empty stomach, along with arginine two or three times per day, with one dose about 30–60 minutes before workouts
Benefit: This is the main ingredient found in starch-blocker supplements. Starch blockers are made from white kidney beans, which have an enzyme blocker called alpha-amylase inhibitor. This ingredient freezes the activity of the enzyme that breaks down starch into its smaller components. The result is that about 65% of the carbs consumed literally go right through you without the bulk of it being absorbed by the intestines. This is essentially a way to lower your carb intake without lowering the amount of carbs you eat.
Dosage: 1–2g of Phaseolus vulgaris 30 minutes before meals to block carb absorption
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Benefits: This essential amino acid is a precursor to tyrosine. Therefore, just like tyrosine, it increases the production of epinephrine, norepinephrine, thyroid hormones, and dopamine to increase fat loss and boost alertness. Phenylalanine is one of the amino acids that raises insulin secretion, which can help with muscle growth following workouts. In fact, scientists who study muscle growth know phenylalanine as a key amino acid utilized to synthesize muscle protein and thus drive growth.
Dosage: Take 5–10g with your post- workout shake
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Benefits: PS helps decrease cortisol levels, and since cortisol increases muscle breakdown and competes with testosterone, blunting it can help keep you more anabolic. This is especially true in the morning and during workouts, when both cortisol and testosterone levels rise. Lowering cortisol with PS helps to optimize testosterone’s benefits as well.
Dosage: 800mg of PS in the morning and before workouts
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Benefits: Potassium is a mineral that performs many functions in the body. It is stored within muscle cells, where it works to enhance cell volumization by pulling water from the blood to your muscles during exercise. Potassium also helps to buffer the acid residues that are produced from eating a diet high in protein and whole grains. These acid residues can actually impair muscle growth, so buffering them can be important for continued growth.
Dosage: Take 100mg with food one to five times per day. Be cautious if you eat a lot of fruit, which is high in potassium, because additional potassium may result in an upset stomach, gas, abdominal pain, diarrhea, or vomiting.
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Benefits: Probiotics are “good” bacteria that help to reestablish gut microflora, levels of which are compromised by stress and chemicals (odd eating habits, food, and supplements). These beneficial bacteria help improve intestinal function, promote good digestive health, and defend against a number of ailments. If the intestines don’t work properly, the body can’t absorb the nutrients needed for muscle growth and performance.
Dosage: Take enough probiotic bacteria to provide 10 billion colony-forming units (CFU) daily for approximately two weeks, then follow with 1–2 billion CFU daily for maintenance.
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Benefits: This flavonoid is a potent anti-oxidant as well as a potent NO booster. One way it elevates NO levels is by scavenging the free radicals that break down NO. Research shows that Pycnogenol also boosts NO levels by increasing the activity of nitric oxide synthase (NOS), the enzyme that catalyzes the conversion of arginine into NO. Therefore, Pycnogenol allows for more arginine to be converted into NO and maintains higher levels of NO for longer.
Dosage: 50–100mg of Pycnogenol 30–60 minutes before workouts
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Benefits: Pyruvate improves fat loss by slowing the regaining of fat after trimming down. It also appears to increase energy production, as it has been shown to lengthen exercise time to exhaustion. It can also enhance the ability of muscle to take up glucose from the blood, which spares muscle glycogen.
Dosage: 1–4g of pyruvate two to four times a day on an empty stomach, with one dose taken one hour before working out
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Benefits: Quercetin is an antioxidant that can reduce the risk of heart disease and certain cancers and improve immune function. Yet it also has physique- and performance- enhancing benefits. Research shows that quercetin dilates blood vessels and can improve muscle endurance.
Dosage: Approximately 500mg twice per day with meals, with one dose taken about 30–60 minutes before workouts
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Benefits: Resveratrol is a powerful anti-oxidant found in grape skins and seeds. Its benefits include reduced risk of cancer, better heart health, enhanced fat loss, higher testosterone levels, and increased muscle endurance. Research also shows that it can increase insulin sensitivity, which can further aid fat loss and boost muscle growth.
Dosage: 5–500mg of resveratrol in the morning about 30–60 minutes before workouts without food. On rest days, replace that pre-workout dose with an afternoon dose.
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Benefits: Rhodiola rosea increases the body’s resistance to a variety of stresses. It may also improve athletic performance, mood, and cognitive, immune, and sexual function; and help to promote weight loss. Research shows R. rosea helps prevent a drop in critical hormones such as testosterone, GH, insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), dopamine, and thyroid hormone. It can also blunt levels of the catabolic hormone cortisol.
Dosage: Take 100–1,000mg of an extract standardized for the main active ingredients (rosavins and salidrosides) without food
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Benefits: Ribose is often used to improve energy levels during the day and dur ing workouts. Although the research on taking the simple sugar during exercise is equivocal, there is evidence that it does enhance performance when an exercise is repeated. This means that while it likely will not increase strength on the first set of an exercise, it can help to increase the number of reps performed with a given weight later in the workout.
Dosage: 5–10g with your pre- and post-workout shakes
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Benefits: Rutaecarpine works in the blood vessels to increase calcium levels, which activates NO production to relax the smooth muscle cells and cause vasodilation. Since rutaecarpine boosts NO levels through a mechanism that is not dependent on arginine, taking it with supplements that boost NO production by converting more arginine into NO has cumulative effects on NO levels and blood flow.
Dosage: 50–100mg 30–60 minutes before workouts, preferably with arginine and/or other NO boosters
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Benefits: Salacia oblonga works by inhibiting the alpha-glucosidase enzyme from breaking down carbohydrates. This process then prevents your body from digesting all the carbs that you consume and keeps blood glucose and insulin levels lower after carb-containing meals.
Dosage: Take 1,000mg of S. oblonga right before high-carb meals
SAMe (S-ADENOSYL- METHIONINE)
Benefits: This supplement has a wide range of benefits, including promotion of joint health, liver health, proper metabolism, and mental function. SAMe has become well known as a safe and effective natural antidepressant.
Dosage: 400–800mg two or three times per day on an empty stomach
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Benefits: The sterols in saw palmetto help promote prostate health by preventing testosterone from being converted to dihydrotestosterone (DHT) and by preventing DHT from binding to its receptors on the prostate gland. They can also help to increase muscle hypertrophy (growth) by keeping testosterone levels high, and it may even enhance your immune system function.
Dosage: 100–800mg of saw palmetto extract standardized for fatty acids and sterols two or three times per day with food
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Benefits: Schizandra berry is a stimulant and has been found to boost muscle endurance and brain function. In addition, Schizandra chinensis may also reduce cortisol levels when taken before exercise. Since cortisol competes with testosterone, having lower cortisol levels during and after workouts can optimize testosterone’s anabolic effects to enhance muscle growth.
Dosage: 1,000–1,500mg two or three times daily with food
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Benefits: Selenium is a trace mineral important for keeping your metabolism high, which in turn burns body fat. Selenium also plays a critical role in immune function and delivers other health benefits, including reduced risk of some types of cancer and cardiovascular disease, and promotion of normal liver function. Research also shows that selenium is critical for muscle strength.
Dosage: 200mcg taken with food
BeNefITs: Three-acetyl-7-oxo DHEA (7-keto) is a natural metabolite of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), and, like DHEA, 7-keto DHEA is thermogenic. But 7-keto DHEA does not convert to testosterone or estrogen as DHEA does. It appears to increase metabolic rate by stimulating thyroid hormone production. One other way it may enhance metabolism is by direct stimulation of mitochondria (aerobic energy factories within cells).
Dosage: 100–200mg of 7-keto DHEA twice per day between meals
Benefits: Simmondsin is an extract of jojoba. It suppresses appetite by stimulating the production of cholecystokinin (CKK)— a hormone that increases satiety. One study reported that lab rats given the extract actually starved themselves to death. One study in humans found that jojoba seed meal reduced body weight by about 20 pounds in one month.
Dosage: 100–500mg before meals to combat hunger
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Benefits: Soy protein is a fairly fast-digesting protein that is rich in the NO-boosting amino acid arginine. It also provides antioxidants that have been shown to enhance muscle recovery following workouts. Moreover, one study found that soy increased GH levels by more than 200%. If you’re worried that soy protein lowers testosterone and raises estrogen levels, don’t be. A fairly recent analysis of all the studies on the effects of soy on testosterone and estrogen in men confirmed that soy does not lower testosterone or raise estrogen levels in men.
Dosage: Add about 10g of soy protein isolate to your pre- and post-workout shakes
ST. JOHN’S WORT
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Benefits: St. John’s wort is an herbal supplement used to relieve mild depressive symptoms, sleep disorders, and anxiety; it does so mainly by raising serotonin levels. It also works as an antiviral supplement.
Dosage: 300–450mg two or three times daily with food
Benefits: Synephrine has a structure chemically similar to ephedrine, but it boosts metabolism without elevating the heart rate or blood pressure, making it a safer supplement alternative. Synephrine works by stimulating receptors on fat cells that increase the breakdown and release of fat, raising metabolic rate and blunting appetite.
Dosage: 200–600mg of Citrus aurantium, standardized for 5–20mg of synephrine, two or three times per day before meals
Benefits: This dandelion root is used mainly as a supplement for its diuretic properties, which help increase water loss from the body. This is beneficial for bodybuilders before a competition or photo shoot, as well as those trying to make weight for a competition. It contains an active ingredient known as taraxasterol that increases the excretion of sodium chloride by the kidneys, which also increases water excretion. This means that you urinate more, reducing the amount of water under your skin, which enhances muscle definition and lowers body weight.
Dosage: 500–1,500 mg of dandelion root extract standardized for taraxasterol two or three times per day with meals
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Benefits: Taurine improves the contractile performance of muscle, including heart muscle, which means it may enhance strength and endurance. It also has cell-volumizing effects, as it improves muscle-cell hydration. Although it’s not a true amino acid, taurine is involved in muscle, brain, and dietary fat metabolism.
Dosage: 1–3g 30–60 minutes before workouts
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Benefits: This amino acid helps improve relaxation and sleep quality by increasing levels of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) and serotonin, as well as promoting alpha-wave brain function. Theanine works well in combination with magnesium, 5-HTP, and melatonin to enhance sleep and recovery. On the flip side, it has been shown in clinical research to work well with caffeine to boost brain function.
Dosage: Take 200–500mg as needed to boost brain function or promote relaxation and sleep.
Benefits: Trehalose is a simple sugar, but it’s also a very slow-digesting carbohydrate, which keeps insulin levels low and provides sustained energy. It is so slow to digest because it requires a specific enzyme, known as trehalase, which most people have low levels of, to break it down.
Dosage: Have 20–30g of trehalose with your pre-workout protein shake. Do not use more than 30g at one time, as it can cause stomach upset due to its ultra-slow digestion rate.
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Benefits: Tribulus terrestris boosts your body’s own production of testosterone, which leads to better gains in muscle mass and strength. The active ingredient (protodioscin) increases secretion of luteinizing hormone (LH) from the pituitary gland. LH directly stimulates the testicles to produce testosterone.
Dosage: Take 500–1,000mg of T.terrestris about one hour before workouts and sexual activity
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Benefits: This amino acid is a true pick-me-up, as it is known to increase energy, elevate mood, enhance mental focus, and even aid fat loss. Tyrosine is used in the body to produce several important hormones and neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine, as well as thyroid hormones. Studies show that having higher epinephrine levels can help reduce fatigue. Research done on soldiers showed that taking tyrosine improved their performance and stamina during strenuous military activity.
Dosage: Take 1–3g of tyrosine when you need a boost, such as 30–60 minutes before workouts
Benefits: UC-II stands for undenatured type-II collagen, which is the principle structural protein in cartilage that gives it strength and durability. The type of UC-II used in supple- ments is most often derived from chicken cartilage. Clinical research has shown that supplementing with UC-II reduces joint pain better than even the effective combination of glucosamine and chondroitin.
Dosage: Take 40mg of UC-II per day
Rating: *** *
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Benefits: This polyphenol found in the skin of apples has been shown to increase muscle growth and strength by increasing production of IGF-1 and reducing the amount of testosterone that gets converted to estrogen. It has also been shown to increase fat loss while simultaneously building more muscle.
Dosage: Take 250–1,500mg 30–60 minutes before workouts
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Benefits: Also known as bearberry, Arcto-staphylos uva-ursi is a plant that grows in North America, Europe, and Asia. The leaves of uva-ursi contain the active ingredient arbutin, which not only is a powerful natural antibiotic but also provides a diuretic effect. This helps you to excrete more water, especially when taken in conjunction with dandelion root (see Taraxacum officinale above).
Dosage: Take 500–1,500mg of uva-ursi extract standardized for arbutin two or three times per day with meals
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Benefits: Valerian root has long been used as an agent to soothe nervous system responses to stress and to promote sleep. Research confirms its ability to improve rest quality, and it is believed to mildly sedate the CNS and to relax the smooth muscles of the gastrointestinal system.
Dosage: Take 200mg of valerian extract standardized for valerenic acids one to four times a day for anxiety, or take 200–400mg before bed to treat insomnia.
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Benefits: Vinpocetine is a phytochemical that helps deliver more blood to your brain and your muscles, as well as enhance energy production for better focus, more energy, and even bigger muscle pumps during workouts. It has also been shown to strengthen nerve impulses, resulting in stronger muscle contractions as well as a sharper mind.
Dosage: Take 5–20mg two or three times per day
VITAMIN B COMPLEX
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Benefits: The B vitamins are critical players in your body’s ability to use protein and convert carbs and fat into energy. The most important of the B vitamins include B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine), B12, B7 (biotin), and B9 (folic acid). Having low levels of these vitamins is characterized by low energy levels, compromised gains in muscle size and strength, and poorer overall health. Most multivitamins don’t contain enough of the B vitamins, so it’s a good idea to take a B complex supplement in addition to a multi.
Dosage: Look for a B complex that includes all eight of the B vitamins covered above in a dose of 50–100mg, except for B12, biotin, and folic acid, which will be provided at a dose in micrograms, such as 50–400mcg. Take one dose once or twice per day with meals.
VITAMIN C (ASCORBIC ACID)
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Benefits: In addition to the health ben efits of vitamin C, it can actually increase muscle endurance and reduce fatigue via its antioxidant properties. Vitamin C destroys free radicals created from training and other stresses, which break down NO. Having higher NO levels has been shown in numerous clinical studies to boost muscle endurance, stave off fatigue, and increase muscle strength. Research even suggests that vitamin C can also enhance fat loss. Most multivitamins don’t contain enough, so it’s a good idea to take a vitamin C supplement in addition to a multi.
Dosage: Take 1,000mg two or three times per day
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Benefits: Vitamin D has been shown to improve mood, aid immune function, fight off cancers, and keep fat off. Plus, it’s now known to be critical for muscle strength and growth, as well as increasing testosterone levels in males. Since most multis don’t contain enough, take a vitamin D supplement in addition to a multi.
Dosage: Take 1,000–3,000 IU of vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol—the more potent form of D) with 500–600mg of calcium twice per day
VITAMIN E (ALPHA TOCOPHEROL)
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Benefits: Vitamin E is an antioxidant that is especially protective of polyunsaturated fats and body tissues. Vitamin E also prolongs the life of red blood cells and is necessary for the proper use of oxygen by muscles. It also acts as a preservative that prevents many substances, such as vitamin A, from destructive breakdown by oxidation. Most multis don’t contain enough of it, so supplement your E intake.
DOSAGE: 400–800 IU per day with a meal
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Benefits: There are two main types of vitamin K: K1 (phylloquinone) and K2 (menaquinone). What research currently shows is that vitamin K plays a critical role in enabling certain enzymes in the body to function. Some of these enzymes help to form blood-clotting factors, and others are important for fixing calcium in bones. These roles appear to be performed by K1; and a certain type of K2, known as MK-4, has recently been shown to increase testosterone production.
Dosage: Look for vitamin K supplements that provide both K1 and K2. Although most supplements use a form of K2 known as MK-7, your best bet is to use a form that includes MK-4 to maximize testosterone production. Take 100–1,000mcg of vitamin K1 and vitamin K2.
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Benefits: Vitargo is a patented complex carbohydrate supplement that actually digests more than twice as fast as sugar and raises insulin levels higher. One study found that when subjects were given Vitargo after exercise, insulin increased by about 50% more than when subjects were given a typical sugar solution.
Dosage: Mix 1–3 scoops (35–105g) of Vitargo into your post-workout shake.
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Benefits: Whey is the most effective protein for increasing muscle protein synthesis, the process in muscle cells that results in muscle growth. There are numerous reasons why whey is so effective, such as its high content of BCAAs and its ability to boost blood flow to muscles. However, the most important characteristic of whey is its rapid rate of digestion. This is a critical property for a pre-workout and post-workout protein.
Dosage: Take 20–40g first thing in the morning, within 30 minutes before exercise, within 30 minutes after workouts, and between meals as needed.
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Benefits: This small tree found in the rainforests of South America is known technically as Ilex paraguariensis. Its leaves contain a unique blend of xanthine alkaloids, such as theobromine, theophylline, and caffeine. These work together to amp you up before workouts, boost strength and endurance, increase fat burning, and help your mind work more clearly. All this leads to more intense workouts and better results.
Dosage: Take 500–1,000mg one to three times daily as needed, with one of those doses 30–60 minutes before workouts.
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Benefits: Once known as just a sexual performance aid, this active ingredient from the bark of the West African tree Pausinys-talia yohimbe is now known primarily for its fat-burning effects. It aids weight loss by increasing the amount of fat that gets released from your fat cells. The freed up fat can then be burned away as fuel. One study reported that yohimbine significantly reduced body fat in athletes in just three weeks. Yohimbe also increases blood vessel dilation to enhance energy levels during workouts.
Dosage: Take 5–20mg of yohimbine two or three times per day between meals. Take the first dose in the morning; on workout days, take one dose 30–60 minutes before exercise.
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Benefits: Zinc is an essential mineral that the body requires for normal function, and it also provides a host of benefits that can aid physique and performance in the gym. For starters, zinc is an antioxidant that protects critical cellular components from oxidative damage and aids muscle recovery. It is critical for muscle protein synthesis, which leads to muscle growth. Zinc has also been shown in clinical studies to encourage muscle growth and strength gains. Zinc has even been shown to raise metabolic rate and aid fat loss.
Dosage: A dose of 30–50mg per day is best taken without food. Consider getting zinc from a ZMA supplement (see the next entry).
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Benefits: ZMA is a patented combination of zinc and magnesium aspartate plus vitamin B6. Its benefits are supported by strong clinical research. ZMA increases anabolic hormone levels, including testosterone and IGF-1, which may otherwise be suppressed in athletes and those who train intensely. ZMA also improves quality of sleep. Better recovery due to enhanced sleep efficiency and increased anabolic hormone levels, as well as greater gains in muscle strength and power, are the ultimate benefits of ZMA supplementation. Dosage: Take one dose of ZMA (30mg of zinc, 450mg of magnesium, and 10.5mg of B6) on an empty stomach 30–60 minutes before bedtime.