By Eric Broser
“WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO GET SHREDDED WITHOUT SACRIFICING SIZE?”
This is one among most commonly asked questions in bodybuilding. As a Natural Muscle Magazine reader we are going to assume that you already have basics like eating well, balancing resistance & cardio training, and getting enough sleep under your belt. At this stage, you’re looking for ways to dial things in even further.
Enter the double agents.
Vitamin D3: Up until just a few years ago, most people associated vitamin D with either bone heath or sunshine. However, more recent science reveals that the role of vitamin D is much broader than originally thought. It turns out that vitamin D is linked with greater strength, higher circulating testosterone levels, faster muscle recovery, and less intramuscular fat.1-3 Think that you’re getting enough from your daily multi? You many want to check again. Many scientists believe that the current government recommendations grossly underestimate optimal dosages and encourage that healthy active individuals consume 2,000-7,000 IU of vitamin D3 daily.
Yohimbe: Extracts from the bark from this African tree contain alkaloid molecules shown to improve body composition in both men and women. In one investigation scientists gave professional male soccer players yohimbe or placebo (fake supplement) for 21 days. At the end of the period, the athletes receiving yohimbe had significantly lower body fat, but fully maintained their muscle mass and showed no change in performance indicators such as bench press, leg press, or vertical jump height.4 In another 3-week study involving women following a calorie-controlled diet, researchers found that yohimbe significantly increased weight-loss, compared to placebo.5
Fenugreek: Besides contributing to the distinctive flavor of Middle Eastern cooking, fenugreek serves as a double agent in the quest to get muscularly lean. Research published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition reported that well-trained men taking a fenugreek supplement for 8-weeks experienced a notable boost in testosterone levels and a drop in body fat (versus placebo and baseline values).6 Fenugreek also contains a specialized BCAA variant, 4-hydroxyisoleucine, which has been shown to enhance the muscle glycogen resynthesis rate by 63% in the 4 hour recovery window after exercise.7 Glycogen is the body’s primary storage site for glucose and provides essential fuel for high-intensity activities like weight training. Additionally, transferring excess glucose from the bloodstream to muscle tissue may help with appetite control.
Though most people immediately think energy, caffeine’s effects on lean body mass and athletic performance are much broader than that. Caffeine consumption is associated with elevated testosterone levels, reduced muscle pain, fat storage inhibition, enhanced glycogen resynthesis, and greater lipolysis (fat breakdown).8-12 Unless you’re sensitive to its stimulating effects, use caffeine –preferably in anhydrous form, which is more effective – about 30 minutes before exercise.13 Taking more than 2.5 mg of caffeine per pound of bodyweight isn’t likely to provide any added benefit and could actually be counterproductive so don’t abuse it.
1 Chin KY, Ima-Nirwana S, Wan Ngah WZ. “Vitamin D is significantly associated with total testosterone and sex hormone-binding globulin in Malaysian men.” Aging Male. 2015 May 25:1-5
2 Barker T, Schneider ED, Dixon BM, et. al. “Supplemental vitamin D enhances recovery in peak isometric force after intense exercise.” Nutr Metab. 2013 10(1):69
3 Glisanz V, Kremer A, Mo AO, et. al. “Vitamin D status and its relation to muscle mass and muscle fat in young women. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2010 95(4): 1595-1601
4 Ostojic, SM. “Yohimbine: the effects on body composition and exercise performance in soccer players.” Res Sports Med. 2006 14(4): 289-299.
5 Kucio, C, Jonderko, K, Piskorska, D. “Does yohimbine act as a slimming drug?.” Isr J Med Sci. 1991 27(10): 550.
6 Poole C “Effects of TESTOSURGE supplementation on strength, body composition, and hormonal profiles during an 8-week resistance training program.” JISSN 2009 6(Suppl 1): 12
7 Ruby BC, Gaskill SE, Silvka D, et. al., The addition of fenugreek extract (Trigonella foenum-gracum) to glucose feeding increases muscle glycogen resynthesis after exercise.” Amino Acids 2005 28(1)71-76.