Fat is everyone's worst enemy. But to the competitive bodybuilder, fat is really more a four letter word, than a three letter word. Fat is the muscular man or woman's nemesis. It's
what happens to other people ... not what happens to those super-humans doing super workouts in gyms throughout the world! Cellulite? That's a commoner's plight.
But if all this is true, then why is it I get so many phone calls right after Christmas from bodybuilders all over the country, wanting to lose excess bodyfat to get ready for
spring and summer shows? And I'm not talking about two percent or three percent body fat, I'm talking fat, waddling, jiggling bodybuilders who need to shed more weight than you'd
imagine as you sit in an audience and see them in their finished form!
In all fairness bodybuilders are getting better about keeping their weight down in the off season, but fat accumulation is still a problem for them, just as it is for anyone else.
And, after all, it's those last few pounds that really count for an athlete who poses half naked under hot lights infront of screaming fans. So what's a bodybuilder to do? Get tough
Short of eating disgustingly dried out chicken breasts, sliced tomatoes, egg whites and boiled cod, getting lean can be dicey. In fact, it's so hard for some bodybuilders to get
lean, it's amazing they've ever used an NPC card. These are the people who could use my advice on fat-fighting nutrients, because these are the folks that need all the help they can
I remember, not long ago, when supplements weren't exactly high-tech. It's only been since about 1990 that sports-specific packaging took average vitamin-mineral combinations into
the realm of "Super Animal Pak" status! Up until 1989 or 1990, even supplement giant Twinlab had no bodybuilding packaging, and neither did anyone else! Met-Rx had not yet even been
born until 1990! And you can forget about packaging individual sports supplements, or bundling them into one product appropriate for fat loss back then. The entire, gigantic,
lucrative supplement industry was born in the last decade of the twentieth century.
Along with the boom came some important discoveries. In an effort to "Keep up with the Joneses," supplement companies got into races with one another to find the best possible
formulas to burn fat and build muscle. We all know that - they do it today with a vengeance. In fact, so much so, the average guy can barely understand what their ads mean anymore.
The point is, it's a different game today. As consumers and bodybuilders, we get the best research money can buy today. We get "cutting edge" and that's a good thing. Consequently,
if you can beat your way through a supplement aisle in a nutrition store to find what you need among the many choices, you'll be ahead of the game and on your way to actually taking
supplements that can get you big, hard and lean. So which supplements are helpful in a bodybuilder's quest to lose fat poundage?
There are a few supplements out there that can be used individually or in combination with others, to promote fat loss. Some work at night, some work over the course of a day in a
time-released fashion, and some work best when combined with cardiovascular/aerobic exercise. Carnitine is one of those substances that works best with exercise. In fact, because the
people I work with all have to do some form of cardio to prepare for a competition - from two or three days a week to two to three times a day - this is an ideal supplement for them.
Carnitine is classified as Vitamin B1 and occurs in abundance in diets that include animal muscle meats. It stands to reason that because a bodybuilders' diet primarily consists of
meat and proteins, they are getting a lot of carnitine in their diets already. However, the extra supplementation actually boosts carnitine levels and causes fatty acids to be
transported directly into the center of each cell to be used as fuel.
Many people will tell you carnitine doesn't work, but I honestly believe that it does. Granted, it's not a drug and therefore isn't going to work like a pharmaceutical, however it does
have some impact on the outcome of a successful pre-competition diet. One big benefit of taking carnitine is that it reduces fatigue, burns fat, increases good cholesterol (HDL) and
reduces ketone bodies within the bloodstream; something particularly important if a bodybuilder is on a high-protein, low-carb diet! Take it in liquid form, if possible, on an empty
stomach, prior to the first cardio session of the day.
CHROMIUM and VANADYL SULFATE
Whereas carnitine is thought to mobilize and transport fat into the mitochondria of a cell for use as energy, chromium works just a bit differently. And, in my opinion, it's one of
the best things you can take, alongside Vanadyl Sulfate for fat loss.
Chromium works by reducing cravings for sugar and by helping to lower insulin levels that have risen sharply from eating starches and certain other carbohydrates. Because insulin is
crucial in fat storage, reducing its presence in the bloodstream will lessen a bodybuilder's chance to store carbohydrate calories that may be free-floating in the bloodstream. And,
because every calorie eaten in excess can and will be stored as fat without a nudge from an insulin-fighter like either chromium or vanadyl sulfate, it should help a bodybuilder to
take these when they've over eaten any kind of calorie in general.
Whereas chromium needs insulin to work its magic, vanadyl sulfate does not. In fact, plenty of studies exist that show vanadyl sulfate significantly increases liver glycogen, and
improves the uptake of glucose by muscle tissues. So, in plain English, that means that vanadyl is capable of lending a helping hand in making sure that muscle is spared during hard
training and dieting. In a word, vanadyl sulfate possesses anti-catabolic properties that seem capable of sparing muscle.
What's more, vanadyl sulfate, though not as strong as injected insulin, can mimic many of the activities of insulin. It can also inhibit the storage of excess calories and carbohydrates
as fat, by stabilizing the body's production of insulin.
DIGESTIVE AIDS / ENZYMES
Pancreatin, Papain and Bromelain are all in a class of enzymes called "digestive aids." In other words, they serve as catalysts that break down the food we eat into absorbable bits.
Saliva and stomach acids contain natural versions of these. And, the better broken down food can become, the better digested and utilized it will be. In addition, less will be stored
as fat in the end because it won't be sitting in the stomach for an extended visit, waiting for some kind of enzyme to potentially break it down into transportable pieces.
Now, it's kind of funny because most fat burning supplements on the market today are designed to actually block absorption rather than help it. However, getting food digested and
through the body as quickly as possible apparently works wonders on fighting fat storage. Besides, when you're eating protein in disgusting amounts during a pre-contest diet, it's
likely that you'll want to take some kind of digestive enzyme to break it down. If you've ever gotten digestively disgusted with steak, chicken and other fibrous meats, pancreatin
comes in particularly handy for protein breakdown. After all, bodybuilders go crazy with stringy meat during those last few weeks of contest prep and probably need a way to keep it
DHEA is a supplement that actually interferes with fat storage. It's the second most produced steroid within the human body and it can work for you by inhibiting enzymes which help
you to store fat. The unstored fat is then either utilized by cells or is excreted by the body. It also heightens your body's sensitivity to thyroid hormones and can therefore be seen
as something improves thermogenesis, fat metabolism and energy production. All in all, I'd put this in my cabinet prior to any contest and, really, I'd think about taking it throughout
the entire year.
This is a class unto itself. And I don't know even one bodybuilder who hasn't at least tried thermogenic capsules and formulations. Thermogenics increase the body's production of heat
energy. When calories are low, as in a contest diet, a bodybuilder's heat production is low. Thermogenics can aid the body's own level of heat production, act slightly as an appetite
suppressant, and actually help stored fat to be utilized as energy. Products like caffeine, ephedrine, ma huang, and amino acids L-phenalynine and L-tyrosine are among the class. The
first three, however, can truly affect the nervous system if taken in large amounts. I don't recommend it, but I'd bet that every bodybuilder out there has to push this limit for him
or herself to find it out. The other two don't make the body feel jumpy, but instead, are precursors to epinephrine and norepinephrine production (adrenaline and noradrenaline).
There are plenty of products out there on the market in this category. One only has to find them from reputable companies. Some swear by one brand, some by another. No matter what
though, they should be used only at contest prep time so that their effectiveness stays intact.
This is an actual fat blocker. It's made from the shells of seafood so if you're at all allergic to shrimp or any other shellfish, please don't even try it. I had a friend almost die
because it put him into anaphylactic shock! (Most bodybuilders will put anything in their mouth without knowing its origin).
It works by binding with the fat that you actually ingest and you excrete it out rather than using it for energy or storing it as bodyfat. This is good and bad. If you're trying to
get a little fat in your diet, you will end up with none. If you're on a low carb diet, and your only source of energy is fat from your diet, it's best not to take this one. However,
if you're an over-consumer of fat at meals and just can't seem to let go of those fatty foods that aren't allowed pre-contest, this might be your dream supplement.
All in all, these supplements can truly aid you in your quest to lose bodyfat. However, as I mentioned earlier, they are not drugs, they are supplements. They can only work so much in
fighting fat. That's mostly your job - to maintain your weight all year long so the struggle isn't an impossible one, and to make sure that you have a tight diet. These supplements are
icing on the cake to help ensure you make a success of it.