Since World War II one major bodybuilding trend has remained constant: Every year the athletes are both bigger and leaner. Obviously, the
athletes who are the champions know some things that the others ignore.
In the early 1950s the few bodybuilders who were aware of the strong muscle-building effects of androgenic steroids got a serious edge in
competition. As that secret leaked out, steroids became very popular, and the secret edge was no longer such a big secret. The only way to
build even bigger muscles was to use increasingly more anabolics.
You can manipulate prostaglandin secretions for big gains. You don't do it with drugs but with special diet and training adjustments.
In the early '80s another secret muscle builder arrived-growth hormone. Although it was restricted to a few insiders at first, the word did
eventually get out. In the mid '80s, clenbuterol came to the fore, followed by insulinlike growth factor 1 (IGF-1) in the early '90s.
The excitement caused by the arrival of IGF-1 hid what is probably a more potent muscle builder than any of those substances - prostaglandins
(PGs). Today the anabolic effect of prostaglandins is the best-kept secret in the bodybuilding community. In fact, the so-called official word
on prostaglandins is that they're potent mediators of catabolism, that they'll make you fat, that they're really bad for your health and so on.
That's just not true, and you can manipulate prostaglandin secretions for big gains. You don't do it with drugs but with special diet and
Are Prostaglandins Harmful?
Why are prostaglandins made out to be the Saddam Hussein of bodybuilding? There are two reasons: 1) The insiders want to keep their edge-they
don't want you to know about the benefits. 2) Some people don't have a clue as to what they're talking about. Some misconceptions about
prostaglandins are easy to clear up. For example, we're told that PGs are antithermogenic, meaning they either reduce your temperature or
prevent it from rising. That's the big lie. Think about the last time you got a fever. You probably took aspirin or ibuprofen. Why? As it
happens, they're very potent prostaglandin inhibitors. If prostaglandins were truly antithermogenic, your temperature would have increased
when you took aspirin or ibuprofen, but, amazingly, it reduced your body temperature. So much for the supposed antithermogenic effect.
Doctors recommend prostaglandin inhibitors to reduce fever simply because prostaglandins are the main mediators of thermogenic reactions,
such as fevers. Any prostaglandin user will tell you they are the most powerful thermogenic mediators you can imagine. Some people, however,
don't want you to remember that.
Most of the old formulas of ephedrine and caffeine contain aspirin. Supposedly, the aspirin's purpose is to enhance the thermogenic response
of the stack, but I say it was added to those stacks so you'll have to buy another bottle.
The second piece of misinformation we get about PGs is that they're the mediators of muscle catabolism. If that were true, taking a simple
prostaglandin inhibitor such as aspirin after training would make you big by slowing down catabolism. Well, no one ever got big by taking
You might be thinking, If prostaglandins are such a powerful muscle builder, wouldn't taking aspirin make me smaller? As it happens, no one
is aware of that side effect of aspirin. The explanation is simple. Physiological doses of aspirin cannot prevent the basal re leas of muscle
prostaglandins and so don't interfere significantly with the normal protein turnover.
Weight training stimulates the local areas of prostaglandins enabling them to exert an even stronger anabolic influence. That means, however,
that you can completely stall training-induced muscle growth if you take enough aspirin. I say enough aspirin because, as I just mentioned muscle
prostaglandins are not as sensitive to the inhibitory effects of aspirin as the other prostaglandins are. Nevertheless, more powerful substances,
such as glucocorticoids, have been shown to negatively affect muscle mass because of their potent inhibitory effects on the basal secretion of
muscle prostaglandins. That's the reason an excess of cortisol is so bad for bodybuilders. By inhibiting the secretion of prostaglandins induced
by proper training, cortisol hinders growth.
What Are Prostaglandins?
Some experts believe that prostaglandins are hormones, while others claim they are short-lived, lipid-related second messengers endowed
with hormone-like effects. The latter is correct. They aren't truly hormones, but they're so close that for simplicity's sake I'll classify
them as muscle-building, fat-reducing hormones.
The prostaglandins are derived from unsaturated fatty acids, so you might call them anabolic fats. By taking some kinds of dietary essential
fatty acids, you can either increase or reduce prostaglandin secretions. At this point I'll restrict the discussion to muscle prostaglandins.
Every muscle is composed of many fibers, each of which is covered by a membrane made of fat. The fats you eat become the major components of
the membrane, which not only protects the muscle cells but is also a source of phospholipids, the raw material of prostaglandins.
Proper weight training, for example, stimulates the local release of prostaglandins in an autocrine and paracrine manner. The more PGs that are
released, the better. Some kinds of dietary fats can enhance the effect of training by providing more raw materials for prostaglandin synthesis,
while others hinder the process. Consequently, you can enhance or slow down the release of those muscle-building substances by altering your fat
intake, especially the kind of fat you take in.
For now I'll concentrate on the prostaglandins of the 1 series, which are called prostaglandin PGE1. PGE1 is created by the metabolization of
linoleic acid, and one very easy way to increase the manufacture of PGE1 is to take oils that your diet doesn't naturally provide. In fact,
most bodybuilders don't come close to producing enough PGE1.
The Anabolic Properties of PGE1
You may already be aware of some of PGE1's interesting properties. In the pre-Viagra era PGE1 injection was one of the most potent ways of
inducing a long-lasting erection. PGE1 is also one of the few substances that can help build muscle mass. Its anabolic properties in humans
were brought to light by German studies performed in the late '80s. The researchers gave PGE1 intravenously to healthy subjects who had fasted.
Before the infusion, amino acids were leaving the muscles because of the catabolic response induced by the lack of food. Once the PGE1 got to the
blood, the amino acid loss was stopped and then reversed. In other words, the subjects went from a state of net catabolism into a phase of net
anabolism thanks to an increase in PGE1. Although insulin secretion was unchanged, the researchers concluded that PGE1 has an insulinlike effect
on muscle. A recent study confirmed that effect.
The researchers begin by stating, "Prostaglandins of the E (PGE) series have long been considered 'catabolic' hormones, but recent data suggest
that they may be secreted in critically ill patients to counteract stress hormones, stimulating protein synthesis." It's about time that science
confirms what bodybuilders have known for years. If Dianabol is the breakfast of champions, PGE1 is their evening meal because of its ability to
turn the catabolic nocturnal period into an anabolic period.
PGE1 deficiency has long been associated with impaired muscle growth. As humans naturally produce very little PGE1 because of a lack of absorption
of the corresponding raw materials, bodybuilders are probably deficient in it-not in a way that's detrimental to their health but in the sense that
muscle growth is suboptimal.
Will PGE1 Make You Fat?
As mentioned above, a high PGE1 level is especially desirable at night because of the substance's protective, insulinlike effects on muscles.
Of course, with insulin there's also the possibility of gaining fat-and prostaglandins do have the reputation of being fattening.
PGE1 inhibits fat release in a test tube just as insulin does, but it's a big leap to assume that PGE1 is fattening based on test tube studies. In
humans the administration of PGE1 leads to both an increase in the free fatty acid levels in the blood and an increased rate of fat oxidation in
muscles. That means PGE1 extracts the fat from your adipose tissue and brings it to the muscles, where the fat molecules are burned. So much for
PGE1 being fattening!
You may wonder how PGE1 produces its wonderful fat-burning effects. PGE1 actions in the short term are mediated mainly by an increase in the
secretion of norepineprine. Its long-term fat-fighting effects are brought about by an increase in both growth hormone secretion and thyroid
hormone production. In addition, PGE1 reduces the secretion of insulin that you'd normally get after a meal. That lessens insulin's fattening
properties without altering its muscle-building effects, as those are reinforced by the PGE1.
PGE1 may also blunt the effects of the alpha 2 receptors, which is a good thing. Scientists believe it does that through a "heterologous desensitization
at the post receptor level." That means the alpha 2 receptors located on the fat cells, which prevent fat loss, don't function as well because of PGE1.
As a result, you lose more fat from hard- to-lose areas. What's more, PGE1 may enhance the fat-reducing properties of the beta adrenergic receptors.
PGE1 is also associated with fat cell necrosis, or the destruction of unwanted fat cells. Last, but not least, PGE1 strongly stimulates thermogenesis,
which wastes calories. That, incidentally, is one of the major side effects of artificial PGE1 administration. Body temperature rises to an alarming
In case you're wondering, there are no side effects involved with naturally enhanced PGE1 production. The problems arising from direct PGE1
infusion or taking PGE1 pills are due to the rapid, unnatural increase of the substance in the blood, and they range from fever to severe nausea,
headache, cramps and soreness. In other words, exogenous administration of PGE1- in which it's introduced into the body from an outside source-is
dangerous, and I strongly advise against it, especially as it's so simple to ask your body to produce it gently and naturally. That warning is
particularly important for women, as the presence of exogenous PGE1 can damage a fetus.
How Do You Increase PGE1?
Use an oil rich in gamma linolenic acid (GLA, not to be confounded with CLA). Evening primrose oil (EPO) is one such oil. Although it's only 10 percent
GLA, it has proven to be really good at elevating PGE1 levels. Five to 10 grams of EPO spread over the day is a good way to boost your PGEI level to
muscle-building thresholds. Some studies done with humans have shown a fat-loss effect with far less than that, though. By taking GLA throughout the day,
you enhance PGEJ production naturally, without the strong peaks associated with the side effects of drugs containing PGE1. The researcher in the last
study cited above advised stacking GLA with zinc and vitamins C and B6 for optimal PGE1 transformation. 5 Unfortunately, throwing a few capsules of
evening primrose oil into your diet is not enough for serious bodybuilders. It's a very good start, however, and in the next installment of this discussion
I'll explain how you can fine-tune your dietary manipulation of the prostaglandins. By the way, flaxseed oil doesn't contain much GLA and if anything
inhibits PGE1 formation.
If you're impressed with the prostaglandins so far, let me assure you that you ain't seen nothing yet. I consider PGE1 to be mild compared to PG of the
2 series, which can transform your physique as no steroid can in less than a week.
Note that it's very rare for someone to be able to increase the secretion of an anabolic factor with only a simple dietary manipulation, so don't
miss this opportunity. I can't promise you'll get a Viagra-like effect, but you won't suffer the side effects either.