This blog is not about these essentials, it’s about digging a bit deeper and supporting your nervous system and using other ergogenics (natural performance enhancers).
Once the basics are in place (they are called essentials because they are) I use a systems biology approach to support the areas an athlete or individual will get most benefit from. Here’s a simplified diagram showing the systems biology approach.
SYSTEMS BIOLOGY PERFORMANCE SYSTEMS
CNS Drive – Adrenal HPA Axis
Energy, substrate and lactate
Circulation and Vasodilation
Digestion, absorption and elimination
Hormonal anabolic and catabolic
Inflammation and Immune systems
Note: Happy Healthy and Horny – I like my clients to be frisky otherwise somethings probably wrong.
Right now, if you are getting ready for the marathon (real or local) the two most important things are gradually building your mileage up and losing any excess fat weight to make the whole process more enjoyable and quicker.
SUPPORTING NEURAL DRIVE – BRAIN TO MUSCLE DRIVE
In terms of direct and instant performance enhancing protocols, our brain directs our muscles this is known as neural drive. When we consider neural drive and central fatigue, we can consider the use of neurotransmitter support. For example, when adrenalin and nor adrenalin run low our drive and stress resistance diminish.
If you are happy and rested the brain will tend to be in a better position to work optimally.
We can support these areas with the use of l-tyrosine, an amino which the body uses to make these brain hormones, amongst other things. Combining tyrosine with essential amino acids is a good idea as part of the central fatigue theory of over training relates to a displacement of 5HT. Although there’s controversy around this theory as with most areas of nutrition I find energy levels are higher and fatigue levels lower when you combined amino acids with training.
5HT levels increase the longer you exercise this builds serotonin which makes you tired and these levels can increase the more fatty acids the body releases over time during exercise. So, think long run and the gradual fatigue which sets in both in the body and also the mind.
I like to use 10-15g essential aminos +cofactor aminos and 2-5g tyrosine per hour when training in a depleted state. Adding these in water with electrolytes is the best idea. Mixing a sachet of the Focus Formula with Metabolic Amino Complex covers these areas and much more.
Neural drive can also be enhanced through the use of stimulants such as caffeine which is a very effective ergogenic aid. However, my preference is liberal use of these stimulants and reserved for competition and occasional training only. The difficulty is although they provide the body with additional energy and reduce perception of fatigue we always pay back with additional interest. Over time over use of these stimulant based pre workouts can often cause burnout and fatigue. If you did want to try them I suggest 0.3mg/kg so if you weigh 100kg use about 300mg of caffeine, this is a high dose so start with less and build up.
Remember though whilst caffeine does give you energy you normally pay back with a higher rate of interest. So you can feel tired afterwards.
Never, ever, ever do anything in competition which you’ve not practiced in training first.
Tip from the Top; “Always practice new supplementation strategies in training before competition”.
ENERGY PRODUCTION ATP AND MITOCHONDRIAL BIOGENESIS
L-tyrosine is also a precursor to Co Q 10 which is part of the electron transport train. This for those of our with a little biochemistry knowledge is one way the body produces ATP the energy currency of the cells. Taking Co Q 10 may enhance this energy provision pathway and can help with mitochondrial energy production, protection and health. I don’t make Co Q 10 but there’s a good dose in each serving of MAC Aminos. You can use some additional Co Q 10 if you wish taking 200-400mg on event day can help or 200mg daily for 2-6 weeks throughout competition period. There’s a nice 50mg per scoop of Co Q 10 – meaning a double scooper gives you a performance-boosting 100mg hit.
The mitochondria are the energy powerhouses of the cells. The become more efficient if you train in a depleted state, you can also build more by using Co Q 10 (100mg) and PQQ (20mg) which work well together. As we age this is important, making this combination very effective.
Alpha Lipoic acid (ALA) really rounds this combination off nicely, animal experiments show a regeneration of performance, brain function and health when using these supplements, some researchers referred to the combination being the equivalent of moving from a zimmer frame to dancing the tango in aging rats at least. Human studies also show promise, especially for brain protection.
Whilst results might be less dramatic in humans (nutrition’s not really about magic bullets), nonetheless ALA seems to support insulin sensitivity, creatine uptake into cells along with carbs whilst supporting general cell health and protection. In terms of supporting muscle mass and protecting against catabolism creatine is underused by the endurance community, HMB a leucine derivative also protects significantly against muscle protein breakdown and may also guard against overtraining syndrome.
Both Creatine and HMB show promise in supporting muscle function and recovery. Creatine is the better studied and more reliably supported scientifically of the 2 compounds, personally I’ve found HMB to be a useful addition to this combination even if the research is 50:50.
There’s really good doses of HMB and creatine along with creatine pre-cursor amino acids in the Special Loader which is still just £39.99
The powder also contains beta-alanine, citrulline and tyrosine. It’s awesome.
NITRIC OXIDE ENHANCERS
Oxygen delivery, circulation, and vasodilation have received more emphasis in recent years with the rising popularity of beetroot juice. Beets being a rich source of nitrates have the ability to open up blood vessels – the effect is better oxygen kinetics, a flash way of saying you can do more when you use nitrates or beetroot juice before you train.
Effects will be greater in individuals who don’t eat enough vegetables, as vegetables also contain plenty of nitrates. This may be the main reason eating vegetables protects against all-cause mortality because of the moderate but significant effect of eating a nitrate-rich diet has on blood pressure. Other supplements can also help with this system, like citrulline malate. Citrulline has been shown to assist performance in weight lifting as well as other exercise-based activities, is tastes tart and you can use it pre-training with a hydration drink.
A quick way to increase nitric oxide production is to use my Vinitroplus formula, which takes 2.5kg of grape skins and 500g of apple skins to make one single tablet. That’s a lot of fruit goodness with zero fructose.
It’s also used across Europe as a natural ED remedy (erectile dysfunction) puts a little bit of lead in the pencil as they say and you might run a bit faster too. It’s back in stock very soon!
Lactate acid builds up when we exercise anaerobically. Some are recycled to create ATP, at a certain level the acid will build up to a point that disrupts muscle function. This may feel like a burning sensation in the muscle. Lactate acid buffering offers a potential way to help delay and offset the build-up of lactate, as such the muscle can cope with more stress, output and capacity increases.
Lactate acid buffering supplements include bicarbonate, pine bark extract, beta-alanine and creatine. All of these have been shown to increase capacity and work output during exercise sessions. These are particularly useful during intermittent, sprint-based activities or exercises which last between 20-90 seconds of maximal effort. Some people also believe eating a higher alkaline diet will help support this system and allow the body to better deal with excessive levels of acid in the system. Longer distances tend not to be associated with lactate as much unless you have sprint finishes or want to pull ahead of the pack at times. Beta-alanine does offer other benefits though with its end product carnosine being a potent intracellular protective agent there are also anti-aging benefits from taking this nutrient.
Beta-alanine is included in the MAC Aminos, Special Loader products and also the Focus Sustain. It’s a good way to improve performance and might help with the aging process.
Fat Adaptation and depleted state training.
A lot is being talked about fat adaptation and keto style diets and training these days. Athletes and active individuals are doing well by moving more of their calories towards fat and less as carbs whilst training at submaximal levels. Many endurance athletes become very good at burning sugars for a reason, glycogen is the body's preferred source of fuel at certain higher intensities of exercise, fat burns better at lower aerobic thresholds.
We can become more efficient at burning fat in general though and at slightly higher intensities. The maximum rate we can burn fat for fuel whilst exercising is called ‘fat max’ and has been shown to be as high as 75% of maximum heart rate, although for most people this is likely to be 55-65% of maximum.
Getting better at using fat for fuel is called metabolic flexibility.
Most people are not very good at burning fat at rest or lower intensities of exercise they are metabolically inflexible.
The truth probably is that we can adapt to most fuel mixes and for a longer duration, submaximal exercise fat-adaptation probably does offer some advantages.
However, beware becoming too efficient in this capacity if you are a higher intensity athlete as other carb-burning enzymes will down-regulate meaning peak power and outputs at higher heart rates might suffer for a short while, whilst you upregulate these enzyme systems again. Enzyme systems appear to take 3 days to begin altering. You may well need longer than that to get fully fit again at the higher intensities.
Take home message, do some fat adapted and depleted state training, combined with more fuelled higher intensity sessions to get the best of both worlds. Try not to leave more than 3 full days between higher intensity carb fuelled activities if that what you want to stay proficient in.
Excellent nutrients which support the fat-adapted system are carnitine and CLA. Carnitine has been shown over time to increase ‘fat max’ so you don’t use as much glycogen at lower (relative) intensities leaving more for when you need it at higher intensities. You guessed right there are gram doses of carnitine in the MAC and Focus Sustain.
You’ll find essential amino acids in abundance in the Metabolic Amino Complex, as well as Co Q 10 and other Kerb’s cycle and Electron transport chain support.
One of the reasons it feels so good when you take it. In addition, there’s carnitine and a heap of other special nutrients all aimed at naturally supporting the body’s production of energy, enhancing fat burning and supporting recovery processes even at the time of exercise. You can read the formula below – it is a special powder.
The New Focus Formula enhances neural drive with excellent doses of all the brain supporting nutrients along with beta-alanine and citrulline to further support aerobic energy metabolism.
Hope you find that useful, let me know if you have any questions by replying to this email.