TO BOOST ENERGY
Green Tea Extract Green tea is well known for its ability to enhance fat burning. This is due to the catechins, particularly epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), found in the tea leaves. This catechin inhibits an enzyme that normally breaks down norepinephrine, which is a neurotransmitter and a hormone related to adrenaline that speeds up processes in the body, providing a mild stimulant effect. However, green tea also contains the amino acid theanine. Theanine enhances relaxation and provides a calming effect. When combined with the effects of the EGCG and the small amounts of caffeine in green tea, this has been shown to provide a calm energy boost and enhanced brainabout 500mg of green tea extract standardized for EGCG two to three times per day to keep energy levels constant.
Citrulline Malate This supplement is a combination of the amino acid citrulline and malic acid (malate). Clinical studies show that subjects taking citrulline malate report less fatigue and experience an increase in energy production in the body by about 35%.Take 1–3g of citrulline malate two to three times per day for steady energy.
Coenzyme Q10 (coQ10) This coenzyme assists reactions in the body that produce energy. So having ample amounts of it is critical for maintaining energy levels. Japanese researchers found that subjects supplementing with 300mg of CoQ10 per day for eight days experienced less fatigue during exercise and recovered faster between bouts of200–300mg of coQ10 with breakfast every day to keep your body proficient at producing the energy it needs.
TO BUILD STRENGTH
Beta-Alanine This amino acid is not used as a building block for muscle protein, but it is one of the most critical amino acids for muscle strength. In the muscle cells, it combines with the amino acid histidine to form carnosine. Having more carnosine in muscle cells allows them to contract with more force and prevents fatigue. Research confirms that athletes supplementing with beta-alanine increase muscle strength and power more than those not using1.5–3g of beta-alanine before and after workouts.
Betaine Scientifically known as trimethylglycine, betaine is an important amino acid because it is a methyl donor. We’ll spare you the biochemistry lesson on what methyl units are, but we will tell you that they’re very important for maintaining health and performance. Research shows that athletes taking betaine increase muscle strength by as much as 25%.Take about 1,000–3,000mg of betaine, as trimethylglycine, betaine anhydrous, or betaine monohydrate before and after workouts.
Taurine This is another amino acid that is not used as a protein building block, but it does perform important functions in the muscle that lead to greater muscle strength and endurance. Research shows that muscles with lower taurine levels contract with less force than those with high levels. Take 1–3g of taurine 30 minutes before workouts.
TO IMPROVE CARDIO
Carnitine Carnitine is a critical component of the complex transporting system that brings fat into the mitochondria, where it is burned for fuel. Several studies confirm that supplementing with carnitine increases the amount of fat the body burns both at rest and during exercise. This is not only great for melting off body fat, but it also increases muscle endurance, as numerous research studies show. This effect is further enhanced when taking carnitine along with1–3g of carnitine in the form of L-carnitine, L-carnitine L-tartrate, or acetyl-L-carnitine, 30–60 minutes before cardio workouts.
Caffeine When it’s tough to get motivated for some intense cardio a shot of caffeine can give you the gusto you need to bust out a tough session of HIIT or a long run. But the real reason we take a dose of caffeine before workouts is because it enhances the amount of fat you burn during the workout and your endurance, as research shows. Caffeine has been proven to increase the amount of fat you burn during workouts. This happens because caffeine binds to fat cells. When it does this, it increases the release of fat from the fat cells. During exercise, this effect is enhanced and the increased energy demand of the workout burns up the freed-up fat for good. Not only does this help you lose body fat, but it also increases your endurance, as the increased fat burning spares critical muscle glycogen100–400mg of caffeine, depending on your tolerance, about 30-60 minutes before cardio.
Glutamine This amino acid was once quite popular with bodybuilders. That’s because it pro- vides so many benefits that range from aiding muscle building to boosting the immune system. But we suggest you take it before cardio for two other major reasons—better endurance and greater fat loss. Glutamine can blunt fatigue and increase endurance by helping to buffer acid levels that build up during exercise. In two separate studies conducted at Louisiana State University, researchers found that a dose of only 2 grams of glutamine increased levels of the body’s natural buffer bicarbonate over a 90-minute period. Research also shows that taking glutamine 30 minutes before aerobic exercise increases the number of calories burned during that2–5g of glutamine 30–60 minutes before workouts.
Rhodiola Rosea This plant has a history of medicinal use dating back to the ancient Greeks. It is considered a stimulant because it increases the body’s resistance to a variety of chemical, biological, and physical stressors. Because intense exercise is one such physical stress, rhodiola can help your body better adapt to it. Research shows that rhodiola can act as an antioxidant in the body and increase energy levels in muscle cells, as well as increase the amount of oxygen carried in the blood to exercising muscles, allowing for greater fat burning. All of these benefits have been shown to result in improved endurance as300-1,800mg of rhodiola 30–60 minutes before exercise.
BY JIM STOPPANI, PHD