Estrogen Blockers

Question: I train hard and feel masculine, so don’t understand the big deal about estrogen blockers. But I wonder if they might help me harden up the muscles I’ve been working so hard to build.

Answer: The estrogen question is a conundrum. You do train hard, which increases testosterone. But sometimes the body converts that testosterone into effeminate estrogen. This used to be something that applied mostly to men who used steroids.

With the advent of prohormones to boost testosterone, however, more men could benefit from products that keep the male hormone from converting. Even the average bodybuilder who doesn’t use androgenic supplements may get a relative testosterone boost from estrogen blockers. Reducing estrogens may help the man with a lot of fat on his thighs and glutes trim down and reduce water retention.

Calcium D-glucarate helps your body eliminate excess or undesirable estrogens. Normally, your body gets rid of estrogens, toxic chemicals and other steroids, though sometimes the estrogen is reabsorbed before your gut has a chance to eliminate it. Calcium D-glucarate helps block reabsorption so estrogen gets eliminated as originally intended by your body. That makes this compound a most useful estrogen-buster, although it will also enhance removal of other steroids your body wants gone, including excess testosterone and cortisol.

Chrysin, a flavone from a plant, has been researched for its ability to block the aromatase enzyme from converting testosterone to estrogen in vitro (cell culture). Unfortunately, large doses are needed for chrysin to be moderately effective at aromatase-blocking. Data also show that chrysin is very poorly absorbed, so getting an effective dose is difficult if not impossible.

Indole-3-carbinol (I3C) is a potent anti-estrogen compound found in cruciferous vegetables. I3C tweaks estrogen metabolism in the liver, the upshot being that strong estrogens are converted into weaker estrogens. I3C has been studied as a potential breast cancer preventive, and 300-400 mg converts about 50% of some stronger estrogens to weaker estrogens in healthy men and women. So far, it hasn’t been researched directly on improving muscle growth. I3C also forms diindolymethane (DIM) in the stomach. DIM has similar properties to I3C.

6-OXO (4-Androstene 3,6,17-trione) has been shown to bind to aromatase, the enzyme that converts testosterone to estrogen. The result is the production of less estrogen and more testosterone.

Formastane (4-hydroxyandrostenedione) also inhibits aromatase, with slightly more aromatase-blocking activity but less testosterone enhancement.


Glutamine or Peptide?

Question: What’s the difference between L-glutamine and glutamine peptide?

Answer: L-glutamine is a single amino acid; glutamine peptide means glutamine attached via a peptide bond to one or more amino acids. L-glutamine comes in two types, synthetic and fermented. Glutamine peptide comes from hydrolyzed wheat protein. It’s also found in most protein sources such as whey, casein and soy. Wheat protein has the highest concentration of glutamine peptides, at around 30%. Glutamine peptides aren’t converted to L-glutamic acid in the stomach, whereas L-glutamine can be converted. The theory is that the glutamine peptide delivers its glutamine intact while some of the L-glutamine is converted to less useful L-glutamic acid.

How’s & Why’s of Whey

Question: What’s the difference between whey protein concentrate, whey protein isolate and whey protein hydrolysate?

Answer: Whey from cow’s milk is processed to form these three different types of protein powder. Whey protein concentrate is the least processed, generally has a higher amount of fat and carbs, and usually has the highest amount of native milk fractions (alpha lactalbumin, beta lactoglobulin, glycomacropeptides, lactoferrin, lactoperoxidase, immunoglobulins, etc.).

Whey protein isolate is further processed to remove much of the fat and carbs but also removes some of the valuable fractions. Whey protein hydrolysate is one step beyond isolate – it’s enzymatically chopped up into smaller peptides for easy digestion and absorption. Generally, the greater the level of hydrolysis, the worse the powder will taste. Pricewise, whey protein concentrates are typically the least expensive, followed by isolates and then hydrolysates.

What’s Missing?

Question: I get enough protein, and don’t overeat carbs and fat. What else should I do to keep adding muscle and subtracting bodyfat?

Answer: Most bodybuilders focus on a high-protein diet and thus don’t get enough fiber. While high protein may increase muscle mass, it can be detrimental to regularity and to a healthy intestinal milieu.

A high-protein, low-fiber diet can throw off the balance of good to bad bacteria in your gut. The end result is a constipated, gas-producing environment that can cause discomfort, bloating and health problems. Adequate fiber consumption may help prevent colon cancer, an even bigger benefit down the road.

Consume more soluble and insoluble fiber. Whether it comes from supplements or food, strive to get at least 15-30 grams of fiber daily. Drink plenty of fluids as you increase your fiber content. Try adding a probiotic acidophilus/bifidus product to supply the necessary good bacteria to your gut. You can also eat yogurt with active cultures, but many bodybuilders avoid dairy so the supplement might be a better choice.