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Guide To Nutritional Supplements

This section is dedicated to giving you a broad understanding of the most popular supplement categories available within the industry. It's purpose is a comparative guide to help educate you so that you can make a more informed decision.

Note: This list is in no particular order.

1. Protein Supplements: Protein is 50 or more amino acids (amino acids: nitrogen-containing nutrients and the substances that make up protein) link together in a long chain. Protein is the only macronutrient (large nutrient) that provides the human body with Nitrogen. Carbohydrates and fats do not contain nitrogen. Every cell in the human body requires nitrogen to reproduce and grow. This clearly shows the importance of protein because a lack of dietary protein would have an opposite effect on the body. The different names of protein sources refer to the source, arrangement, and amount of amino acids contained in it. For example, the amino acids in beef protein vary in amounts and arrangement than that of chicken protein.

There are five main types of protein commonly used to protein supplements. They are: Whey, Casein, Milk, Egg, and Soy. Whey is the most popular for supplement use because it's very digestible, and highly anabolic. It also tastes and mixes better than most other proteins. Casein is the second most popular because of its prolonged digestion which will help to provide your body with a consistent amount of amino acids over a longer period of time. Soy is very popular among vegetarians. Soy also contains substances which many improved overall health of women.

2. Carbohydrate Supplements: Carbohydrates are simply the preferred source of fuel (energy) for your body. Carbs are essential to your diet because they provide the energy you body needs to operate. Without them, your body is then forced to look elsewhere for a source of energy. One of the places your body will get that energy is from protein. This will cause a drop in protein levels. The effects of low protein levels were mention above. The different types of carbs include: starches, sugars, and fibers. Carbohydrate containing products are usually designed for energy purposes. Meaning, they are designed to provide your body with fuel. Sport drinks like Powerade and Gatorade are basic examples of this.

3. Dietary Fat Supplements: Let's start by saying that there are good fats and bad fats. Also, every person needs fat in the diet. They are vitally important to various bodily functions. There are three types of fat. The two main ones are: Saturated fat (the bad ones), and Unsaturated fat (the good ones). The third type is Trans-Fatty Acids. This type is a harmful by-product of highly processed fats, which mostly happens with food production. Saturated fats are the ones you should stay away from. Saturated fats are usually solid at room temperature. Good examples are butter, lard, margarine, etc. Unsaturated fat is the type sold as supplements. Unsaturated fats are also known as EFA's (Essential Fatty Acids). They are essential because your body cannot produce them. You have to consume them through your diet. Statistical research has shown that the average person does not meet his/her daily requirement of the EFA's. This is a shame because the potential health benefits of consuming EFA's are well known and numerous. They have been shown to help reduce cholesterol, improve heart function, reduce body fat (ironic isn't it), and even improve the appearance and feel of the skin. They are involved in such functions as hormone production, blood pressure, allergic responsiveness, inflammation, and even nerve function. For all the athletes out there, EFA's have the ability to improve insulin function, increase growth hormone and testosterone production (muscle and performance building hormones), and decrease muscle breakdown.

4. Vitamin & Mineral Supplements: Vitamins and Minerals quite simply are needed to insure the proper function of various bodily processes. Vitamins are organic, non-caloric micronutrients (small nutrients), which are only needed by the body in minute amounts. Some of their uses are in digestion, hormone production, and assisting with brain function. Minerals are inorganic micronutrients usually referred to by the name of a metal (i.e.: iron, zinc, etc.). Minerals are a part of all body tissues and fluids. They are vitally important to nerve response, muscle movement, and digestion and utilization of food. They also regulate your body's water balance and hormone production, and even strengthen bones. For the most part, the body cannot produce Vitamins and Minerals, so they must be obtained through your diet or supplements. These supplements usually fall into four categories:

Basic: these supplements are designed for the average individual requirements. They usually use cheap or inferior sources Vitamins and Minerals.

Performance: these supplements are designed for individuals who require the most out of their nutrients (i.e.: athletes, active people, etc.). These individuals place higher demands on the body and require the supplements to meet those demands.

Single or Small Combinations: these supplements are usually used to perform certain functions (i.e.: zinc and vitamin C are commonly used as a cold and flu treatment).

Anabolic: this is the newest category. These supplements are designed to promote muscle growth. (i.e.: ZMA)

When buying a Vitamin and Mineral supplement, try to follow these guidelines:

Capsules are believed to be superior to tablets because tablets tend not to dissolve very well.

Packets and combinations are believed to be better than all-in-one pills. The reason is that packets and combinations tend to separate Vitamins and Minerals into groups in an effort to increase the effectiveness. This is because taking them all at once may be too much for the body to handle. Also, certain Vitamins and Minerals are known to impede the absorption of others. Separating them helps stop this.

Look for high quality sources of the Vitamins and Minerals. Every supplement is only as good as its ingredients.

5. General Health & Nutrition Supplements: These are usually supplements that are designed to correct deficiencies in a person's diet. They can also be used to deal with everyday health problems. These supplements include mostly basic versions of Vitamins & Minerals, protein products, EFA's, meal replacements, health bars, and so on. They are usually priced low because for the most part they have no special ingredients or qualities.

6. Herbal Supplements: These are plants that are being used for their medicinal qualities. They have gained immense popularity in recent years because the public's belief that natural means safe. The popularity of herbal products is also due to the desire of individuals to take their health into their own hands. For the most part, herbs are completely safe for human consumption. Nevertheless, the public must realize that herbs have medical influences on the body. They must be treated with the same respect and care given to medical drugs.
When choosing herbal supplements, it would be wise for a customer to research as much as possible before choosing a product. Determine what your needs are and whether or not this product will meet those needs. All so, identified any other effects this product will have your body. Determine and look for the standardized extracts you need on the label. You see, a herbs potency and effectiveness is determined by what part of the plant is use, where it is grown, when and how it was harvested, and how it is been processed and packaged. Standardized extracts the herb industry way measuring the effectiveness of a product. Standardized extracts means that the potency of a product is guaranteed to a certain percent. (i.e.: 100mg standardized to 50% means you are guaranteed a least 50mg of the active compounds) Some of the popular herbs are: Echinacea, Ginkgo Biloba, Ginseng, and St. John's Wort.

7. Mind Supplements: These supplements are designed to aid and enhance brain function. Ginkgo Biloba is very popular for this because of the ability to increase blood and nutrient delivery to the brain. Ginkgo users report better memory and focus. Another one is St. John's Wort, which can enhance your mood and feeling of well-being. The amino acid L-Tyrosine is used to boost several brain chemicals that help improve memory, energy levels, and even mental ability. These are ideal supplements if you require a little mental boost.

8. Sleep Aid Supplements: These supplements are for individuals who need extra help getting a good night sleep. It is important to note that these supplements will not put you to sleep, but rather assist with the process. Melatonin is one such product. Melatonin is a hormone produced by your body's pineal gland. Every night your pineal gland produces Melatonin, which helps us fall asleep. The Kava Kava may help you sleep by helping your body to relax. Athletes can use ZMA, which may also help with falling asleep.

9. Weight Loss Supplements: These are supplements that use natural ingredients to enhance a person's weight loss efforts. In order to understand how these products work, you must first understand what body fat is. Essentially, body fat is "stored energy". Every person requires a certain amount of energy everyday in order for the body to function. People receive this energy through the food consumption. Now, your body will only use as much food as it requires. Any excess amounts are stored away for later, hence "stored energy". In order to get rid of that stored energy, you must provide the conditions in which you body has to use it. The most common method is a diet. A diet works by providing your body with energy (food) that is just under your daily requirement. Your body will then make up the difference between what is been provided and what is required, by freeing up the stored body fat and using it as energy.
Weight loss supplements work by assisting somewhere in this process. The two main categories are stimulant and stimulant free supplements. These products also known as thermogenics, which work by stimulating thermogenesis, hence, the name. Thermogenesis basically is the rate in which your body uses energy (food) to produce body heat. Taking a thermogenic product will speed your metabolism, (rate in which your body uses energy) resulting in a slight increase of body heat (about 0.5-1 of the degree). But in order for this whole process to occur your metabolism will require energy. That energy comes form body fat. Essentially, thermogenics works by increasing the difference between the amounts of energy you are providing your body and the amount that is required. The larger the gap, the better results. The most popular method is using the ECA (ephedrine/caffeine/aspirin) combination.
Most products on the market use the herbal equivalent, meaning using herbs that contain these ingredients. Stimulant free supplements do the same thing but in a less intrusive manner. It is important to note that these weight loss products will only work to their maximum potential if given the right conditions. Meaning, proper diet and exercise should be added to the use of these products. Remember, it is very important to do research before starting any weight loss efforts in order to increase effectiveness and to decrease disappointment and/or possible health problems.

10. Pre-Workout Supplements: A pre-workout product is designed to increase your intensity and energy levels during exercise. Most of them work by increasing your body's metabolism (the rate in which your body uses food for energy), which then utilizes the nutrients contained in Ultimate Orange/Punch for a quick and intense boost in energy levels. The purpose of this increased energy is to allow you to exercise at a higher level producing more results from your exercise.

11. Post-Workout Supplements: Post-Workout supplements are absolutely essential for recovery and growth, which is what happens after exercise. The reason is that scientific and historical data shows your body requires large and diverse amounts of nutrients after exercise. Exercise uses virtually all sources of your body's energy, places high amounts of stress on almost everything in your body, and leaves no means for your body to repair, rebuild, and grow. Post-Workout supplements are designed to deliver the proper types, and quantity of nutrients that are required under post-exercise conditions.

12. Energy Supplements: These supplements include products that are designed to supply the fuel for energy and ones that are designed to utilize it. Another type of supplement that can be put in this category is any product that lessens the effects of energy expenditure, namely fatigue. Carbohydrate products in the form of sports drinks and energy bars provide the fuel for your increased energy levels. Thermogenics boost the rate in which you utilize that energy. The more fuel you use at any one time, the higher your energy levels, which increases your physical ability. (i.e.: run longer, workout harder, have greater intensity, etc.)
Products that contain substances like phosphates can lessen the effects of increase energy expenditure. You see, during periods of hard work and/or exercise, Lactic Acid builds up in muscle cells. Lactic Acid is a molecule, which is the primary cause of muscle fatigue. This buildup causes a burning sensation within your muscles resulting in fatigue. Phosphates have the ability to buffer (lessen/limit) the effects of Lactic Acid, which allows the muscles to work harder and longer.
Water is also very important to energy levels because water levels have been directly linked to physical performance. (low water levels result in low performance, high levels lead to high performance)

13. Recovery Supplements: these are supplements that are designed to quicken and improve your body's recovery processes. The quicker and better you recover, the sooner you can perform again. Long recovery times lead too slow progress. Supplements in this category provide the essential nutrients for proper recovery to occur. If the proper nutrients are not available, than recovery time will be much slower and ineffective. Proper and complete recovery is essential for progress. Supplements like Ribose can even speed up the process. Ribose is an all-natural substance that can boost energy and assist with recovery. Ribose has been shown to assist with recovery by up to 640% above normal recovery. A good example is that despite the popular opinion, muscles do not grow during exercise, they grow after exercise in the recovery phase. Therefore any substance that can decrease the time required for recovery will definitely lead to larger muscle gains. Recovery supplements are designed to do just that.

14. Anti-Catabolic Supplements: These are supplements that are designed to prevent/limit a Catabolic state in the body. A catabolic state is when your body is lacking in nutrients to perform vital functions. As a result your body prioritizes functions, and body parts. The body than releases hormones that destroys non-priority body parts and processes (i.e.: muscles and any growth of those muscles) in order to obtain the nutrients within. These nutrients are then feed to parts of the body that are considered high priority, like the liver, brain, and heart.
Supplements in this category will either prevent the breakdown by providing the desired nutrients, or by lessening the effects of the hormones that performs the breakdown.
One such supplement that can perform both functions is Glutamine. Glutamine is an amino acid that is considered by many people to be one of the most nourishing nutrients of all nutrients. Some of properties that glutamine contains are: it is VERY anti-catabolic, enhances the immune system (the immune system is responsible for fighting illness and assisting in the recovery from stress and trauma), and is extremely important to the optimum function of your kidneys, pancreas, gallbladder, and liver. Also, a two-gram dose of the glutamine administered orally has been shown to cause a 400% increase in the body's growth hormone levels. For those of you who do not know, growth hormone has been reportedly linked to gains in muscle mass, losses in body fat, increases in energy levels, and possibly increasing the longevity of your life. Another reported benefit glutamine supplementation is its link to muscle cell-volumizing. You see, of all the amino acids contained with in your muscle cells, glutamine represents 60% of the total amino acids. Because that percentage of the glutamine is so high, a direct connection between the size of a muscle cell and the amount of the glutamine in the muscle can be made. (Small amounts of the glutamine means small muscles, large amounts means large muscles)

15. Joint Supplements: These are supplements that relieve and prevent joint pain and discomfort. Most are designed for relieving joint pain, strengthening tendons and ligaments, improving joint function, stimulating the production of cartilage, helping repair eroded and damage cartridge, protecting cartilage from premature breakdown, and finally, be beneficial to someone suffering from painful joint conditions such as Osteoarthritis. Two main compounds used in most of these supplements are: Glucosamine (helps stimulate the production of connective tissue, more specifically cartilage), and Chondroitin (helps build strength and elasticity in cartilage).

16. Meal Replacement Supplements: Meal replacements are supplements that are designed to provide this same or better nutrition than the average meal. A company called Met-Rx created the first meal replacement in 1991. Since than it has grown into one of the most popular supplements in the marketplace. Their main attractions are: convenience, effectiveness, quality, value, and easiness to use. Meal replacements are designed to provide either general or advanced nutritional value. General meal replacements are mainly designed for the average individual. They contain basic amounts of protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals, and some fat. They contain no special ingredients or perform any special functions other than providing basic nutritional value. Advanced meal replacements, which are usually designed for athletes, are a completely different story. They are designed with the latest in research and use the highest quality sources of protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals, and fat. They also to provide a multitude of additional ingredients that help feed their special nutritional requirements. Some are even designed to provide a performance edge for athletes.

17. Anti-Aging Supplements: These are supplements that are designed to slow, fight, and possibly reverse the effects of aging. Aging can lead to lost of memory, reduction in physical strength, reduce movement in the limbs, and a host of age related diseases. Many of the supplements mention above can assist with these problems. You see, many of the supplements available, as anti-aging products are the same as the supplements mention above. They may have some differences, mainly to be a closer fit to the specific needs of anti-aging products.
Two great anti-aging supplements are: Creatine and GH. Creatine may maintain and improve muscle function, reduce bad cholesterol, act as an anti-inflammatory, protect the brain and nervous system (these conditions may cause strokes and/or asphyxia), treat muscular disease, improve eyesight, inhibit tumor growth, and prevent heart failure. GH (Growth Hormone) therapy has and is still being used as an anti-aging treatment. GH therapy uses synthetic injections of growth hormone (this is expensive and potentially dangerous) while GH supplements use natural compounds to raise GH levels naturally. GH has been reportedly been linked to gains in muscle mass, losses in body fat, increases in energy levels, and possibly increases in the longevity of your life.

18. Sex Supplements: These are supplements that can be used to improve and/or enhance sexual function. Mainly this is accomplished through two methods. They are: mind, blood, and hormone enhancements. Mind enhancement means improving overall state of mind. Happiness and joy improve sex better than depression and sorrow. Hormone enhancement means increasing and improving sex-related hormones. For example, products that increased testosterone will improve sex drive because testosterone is the body's main sex hormone. Blood enhancement refers to improving blood flow to sex-related areas.

19. Hormone Supplements: Most hormone supplements deal with increasing and/or manipulating the body's hormones in order to increase physical mass and/or improve athletic performance. Four of the main hormones involved are: Testosterone, Insulin, Growth Hormone, and Cortisol. Testosterone supplements are the most popular because of Testosterone's very strong anabolic (growth of muscle) properties. They work by increasing the amount of Testosterone and helping it to do its job better. Most supplements dealing with Insulin either help to increase the amount or improve on its functions. Sometimes both. Insulin helps provide growing muscles with nutrients and energy. GH supplements use natural compounds to raise GH levels naturally. GH has been reportedly linked to gains in muscle mass, losses in body fat, and increases in energy levels. Cortisol supplements are designed to suppress Cortisol production, because Cortisol is one of the primary hormones involved with muscle breakdown.

20. Muscle Enhancing Supplements: These supplements are designed to improve the size and function of your muscles. The biggest and most widely use supplement for building muscle is Creatine.
Creatine is an all-natural substance that comes from meat, fish, or synthesized in a lab. If you wanted to get Creatine from meat, you would have to eat approximately 7-9 pounds of raw, red beef everyday to get 5 grams of Creatine. Creatine helps to manufacture more ATP. (ATP is the muscles ultimate energy source) ATP feeds the muscles during exercise. Basically, Creatine helps make ATP, more ATP means more energy, energy fuels exercise, and exercise produces muscle growth. Others supplements in this category include specialized versions of the supplements mention above.

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