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Friday, February 22, 2013


Spring is just around the corner with summer following quickly behind, and along with it the battle to get into the best shape. Many are searching for the perfect formula for fat reduction and the increase of lean muscle mass, with the possible outcome of weight loss to fit into the summer outfits. On this journey some may choose to turn to food supplements for an extra edge.
But do you know if they really work? Do you have information about the main ingredients? Do you know what the effect of the cocktail is if ingredients are mixed?  How about the short/long term side effects of these food supplements could cause? Is it harmful? And last of all are they approved?
The first thing you should know is that these ingredients mostly originate from the components from herbs, plants or roots. And the product from the processing or manufacturing their chemical compounds is what makes these food supplements which have no nutritional value. Some of them don’t really have effects on their own. The effects may occur when taken in combination. So they are believed to cause certain outcomes such as weight loss, fat oxidation, increase strength and others. But little do people know that they are not regulated by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA). Other ingredients can be added into these products, and not all have been studied proving the suggested results.
The FDA minimized their regulation over food supplements when the Dietary Supplement Education Act (DSHEA) was introduced in 1994 to reduce restrictions on ingredients (vitamins, minerals, herbs or botanical, enzymes, metabolites, extracts from plants or foods) that don’t represent conventional food which started being called Dietary Supplements. After 1994, new ingredients have to be submitted to the FDA for approval for safety and effectiveness (no toxicity). Some of these are considered ergogenic aids, which are believed to somehow increase or improve performance.
When trying to reduce fat and measurements all is game, especially when resorting to dietary supplements. But there are side effects, and you may be putting your health at risk, especially when combining ingredients. One or more of these side effects include hormonal problems (affecting the thyroid) tolerance, dependency (withdrawal symptoms), heat stroke, stomach irritation, diarrhea, insomnia, mood shifts and circulatory problems such as elevated HR, arrhythmias, which in short or long term could cause heart conditions (high blood pressure, heart attacks) that could lead to death or even instant death.
There are many dietary supplements marketed to increase energy expenditure, increase fat utilization and oxidation, improve resting Heart Rate (HR), improve recovery, reduce effects of cortisol, fatigue and anxiety. They are used to increase alertness, training intensity and anabolic effects which may enhance ergogenic action or performance. They contain active ingredients (will be listed in brackets) that are specifically used for improving body composition (lowering fat percentages and increase of muscle mass), and even maybe weight loss affecting specific functions of the body. First of all there are the stimulants (catecholamine hormones) which have shown to affect the Central Nervous System (CNS) which could spare lean muscle mass (glycogen and effect nitric oxide production) while exercising, increase cognition and increase thermogenesis (increase of body heat) during exercise. Until now the stimulant that had most effect on the body was MaHuang or Ephedra (ephedrine or neuroephedrine). But due to its negative effects on the body, proving to be harmful to health, it has been banned by the FDA. Ever since, there has been a wide search for ingredients or combinations to imitate its effects. So other ingredients that have been used in these supplements, that also promote fat oxidation and appetite suppression are extracts from Geranium Maculatum (DMMA), Green Tea (cathecin) and Guarana (Caffeine); Black, Red Chilli Peppers, Cayenne and Ginger Root (Capsaicin); Willow Bark Extract (Aspirin); Ciwujia or Wujanseng (Panax or Siberian Ginseng); Forskolin, Rholdiola Rosea. There are also components added to this group that can affect cholesterol levels by improving them such as Gamma Oryzanol and Gymnema Sylvestre, They can be combined with Flavanoid composites such as Saint John Worts (SJW), Tribulus terrestris, Ginko Balboa, Kava Kava (lactones), Citrus Aurantam or Bitter Orange (Synephrine) that may be related to reduce fatigue (analgesic, sedative or muscle relaxation effect) and increase the levels of antioxidants (free radicals).
Some ingredients alone are said to help with fat burning but studies are scarce when relating to the ergogenic or performance effects. There are no direct studies about the effects on the human body of other ingredients such as Lecithin, Chitosin, Garcina Combogia (HCA) and Cordyceps. The effects of fat burning may come when combining two or more of these ingredients, known as the synergistic effect. The results could be adding to the individual effects increasing the stimulation of the CNS or even neutralize the feedback effects of one of the other ingredients. Such an example is the mix of caffeine+ephedrine+aspirin (Caffeine and aspirin remove the effect of increase in levels norepinephrine) which now are sold separately, or Kava kava+SJW (SJW blocks the effect of serotonin from Kava Kava) or Gamma Oryzanol+Tribulus Terrestris (anabolic effects may increase through testosterone production). Certain products may offer excessive amounts and contain proscribed pharmacological agents such as anabolic steroids causing more side effects and even psychiatric disturbances, maniac-like symptoms, and cardio vascular events.
There is a larger concern for these dietary supplements now a days, for they are being used for purposes other than increase in motivation or weight loss.  Little do these bozos realize how deadly that these energizers could be if mixed, for example, with alcoholic beverages or other drugs, for the excessive amounts may cause even more enhanced side effects leading to death.
Articles Consulted:
Gamma-oryzanol from Rice Bran Oil: A review. Patel and Naik, Journal of Scientific and Industrial Research, 2004.
Selected herbals and human exercise performance. L. Bucci. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2000.
The effect of commercial thermogenic weight loss supplement on body composition and expenditure in obese adults. Armstrong, et al. Journal of Exercise Physiology. 2001.
Ephedra and its application to sport performance: another concern for the athletic trainer. M. Powers. Journal of Athletic Training. 2001.
Capsaicin supplement fails to modulate autonomic and cardiac electrophysiologic activity.Shin and Moritani. Journal of Sports Science and Medicine. 2008.
Dietry supplements and sports performance: Herbals. Williams. Journal of Internaltional Society of Sports Nutrition. 2006.
Caffeine and exercise: metabolism, endurance, and performance. T. Graham. Journal of Sports Medicine. 2001.
Ginseng: is it in the root. Palisan and Stacy. Current Sports Medicine Reports. 2006.

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