Five factors important for strength, mass and health

A physically active person gets a lot of adverts of various kinds of supplements, nutritions – in a form of powder, gel, drink, tablets, etc. This madness should be stopped, because from the common sense point of view – the activity of majority of such products has not been scientifically proven. Those who are deceived by ads, buy the most controversial products. In many cases they are recommended by yeasayers well-paid by lobby, which e.g. sells “miraculous Chinese slimming herbs”, “electric abs stimulators” or “wonderful diets”. Even on the cover of every other magazine for men you can notice the ads of: “six-pack in six weeks”, “8 kg muscles more, 3 kg of fat less in 2 months”.

Despite easy access to scientific studies, there aren't many people who sacrifice at least a few minutes to revise them. Even those who don't know foreign languages can easily find something in their mother tongue.

In this article I will write about the very important matter of real insufficiency. These issues are not imaginary, but well-documented. They are significant, because they may condition the improvement of mass, strength, mood and health.

Insufficiency number 1: “testosterone”

For many reasons, men tend to have less testosterone. It's level is dramatically influenced by alcohol (of which I wrote many times, e.g. here: Alcohol may increase the level of testosterone). Alcohol increases the aromatisation (the conversion of estrogens), it may damage the Leydig cells (which produce testosterone in testicles). In many cases low level of testosterone is caused by low-fat diet – cholesterol is the precursor of testosterone. What's more, many bodybuilders resigned from carbohydrates in favour of fatty things and they have noticed better results (like the author of the book: “Burn fat, build muscles” Tom Venuto).

In the studies on the ellite Korean bodybuilders it was proven that they supplied:

  • 5,621.7 +/-1,354.7kcal a day,

  • 293.8+/- 137.0 of proteins a day from diet, additionally 112.2 +/- 70.3 from protein nutritions,

  • total amount of proteins consumed every day (diet + nutritions), in grams: 406.0 +/- 101.1 g (4.3 +/- 1.2 g),

  • 34% of energy came from carbohydrates (95% was covered by diet!),

  • 30% from protein (28% of it from nutritions, 72% from diet),

  • 36% from fats (93% from diet, 7% from supplements/nutritions).

You can find details in the text: The health results of eating excessive amount of protein in bodybuilders

You can also find low-carb schemes, where you can find, e.g. 50-130 g of carbohydrates a day, or cetogenic diets, where the supply of carbohydrates is less than 50 g a day. It's not something new, because many competitors used that way in the 1960s. “Many bodybuilders from the 1960s tried to build muscle mass on the Vince Gironda's diet, which consisted of steak, eggs and whey protein mixed with full fat cream. That diet recommended the daily dose of 36 whole eggs and up to a kilogram of red meat […]. It also included a lot of cholesterol, which, as it turns out, could have been its most important component.” [4]

The overuse of anabolic-androgenic steroids influences negatively the level of testosterone, the same as inappropriate post cycle therapy, overuse of hCG, or too short use of clomid or tamoxiphen after long cycles. Some scientists try to find the reasons of that in xenoestrogens, others in lifestyle or obesity.

Obesity is almost the guarantee of low level of testosterone. In the large review of studies in 2014 [5] it was proven that:

  • the larger reduction of fatty tissue, the higher increase of testosterone in men in each age group,

  • surgical interventions are very efficient, but... they require long period of time,

  • changing lifestyle (physical activity, training) and diet also causes great results.

The final solution is the hormone replacement therapy (HRT) – supplying the exogenous testosterone in a form of injections (testosterone on oil, e.g. enanthatem sustanon, propionate), gel (transdermal) or pills (undecanoate). It should be done under the supervision of a doctor, after doing a lot of tests, such as blood morphology, hormonal and lipid profile, urine, cardiovascular system, liver and kidneys.

Insufficiency number 2: “magnesium”

The United States Food and Nutrition Board recommends the supply of 420 mg for men and 320 mg for women of magnesium. The latest studies suggest that at least 60% of Americans suffer from insufficiency of Mg2+. The scientists connect that phenomenon with the impoverishment of the soil in minerals. During the last 60 years the content of Mg2+ ions in fruit and vegetables has decreased by 20 to 30%. Diet of many people living in Europe and the USA mostly contains refined cereals and highly-processed food. It is estimated that 80-90% of Mg2+ gets lost in the production process. In some cases the level of Mg2+ is estimated on the basis of blood serum, but unfortunately only 1% of magnesium may be displayed that way. Majority of that element can be found in bones, muscles and soft tissues. The proper level of that element in serum is not able to show significant insufficiency of magnesium in the body. Magnesium takes part in over 600 enzymatic reactions. Magnesium insufficiency may be connected with occurring depression, which is suggested by some scientists, e.g. in the meta-analysis in 2015 [1]. What's more, one of the reviews of 5 prospective studies on 1,699 patients suggests that magnesium insufficiency is of key importance when it comes to occurring the new-onset diabetes after kidney transplantation (NODAT). [2] Magnesium takes part in many signal tracks as an antagonist of calcium, and its insufficiency may cause various disorders, including toxicity of calcium ions. [3] The deficit of magnesium is also connected with the development of chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) – although, different studies give various results. Magnesium is also important for the functioning of the heart by influencing the metabolism of heart muscle: it regulates the activity of ion channels in heart cells, cardiac contractility by the influence on the mobility of calcium ions. Magnesium is also anti-inflammatory and it opens blood vessels (decreases the resistance in blood flow). There's no space here to describe all the issues connected with magnesium. Those, who want to know more, can read the following text: http://physrev.physiology.org/content/95/1/1.long

I should also add, that alcohol blocks the absorption of magnesium in hepatocytes completely. Such proces also takes place in the kidneys. Such products, like thiazide diuretics or furosemide, may also influence the magnesium deficit. Although, it has to be underlined that in many cases this phenomenon is of different force and it depends on e.g. the primal level of magnesium in the body, the age of the patient or if s/he has heart disorder, etc.

As a result of using e.g. loop diuretics (e.g. furisemide), a competitor removes with water the following components:

  • sodium,

  • potassium,

  • calcium,

  • magnesium.

As a result of using e.g. thiazide diuretics and similar ones (e.g. hydrochlorothiazide, clopamide, indapamide, chlortalidone), a competitor removes with water the following components:

  • sodium,

  • potassium,

  • magnesium,

  • chlorine.

Insufficiency number 3: “protein”

Despite common availability of protein nutritions, it may happen that you have so-called bad timing of supplying a particular product. The key is to provide proper portion of proteins within few hours after the resistance training. It may be lean meat, dairy products or protein nutrition (e.g. WPC). It's important for you not to forget about it. On the other hand, do not exaggerate with the supply of protein – there are no reasons to believe that excessive amount of protein contributes to building muscle mass. It's more about the supply of calories that matters – excessive amount of calories, proper amount of fat or carbohydrates. There's no point in drinking shake right after hard intervals or resistance training – the absorption of nutrients is disabled for a long time after finishing the session. Also, for practical reasons, people doing small amount of physical activities should not overestimate their energetic expenditure and the demand for proteins.

Insufficiency number 4: “vitamin D”

This topic has been described many times, and we are still not sure if the supplementation of vitamin D3 influences sports results of e.g. footballers, or the immunity of the swimmers. Short exposure of the skin for sunlight will definitely not be bad, provided you don't use any filters.

Insufficiency number 5: “healthy fats”

It often happens that you provide excessive amount of e.g. olive oil (which contains minute amount of omega 3 and a lot of omega 6) or sunflower seed oil, grape-pip oil, corn oil or soya oil (the same situation). Don't focus only on the fact that you provide fats – excessive amount of omega 6 is pro-inflammatory – i.e. it is harmful for health. Also the proportions of omega 3 to omega 6 are important.

Sources: Intern Med J. 2015 Apr;45(4):436-40. doi: 10.1111/imj.12682. Hypomagnesaemia linked to depression: a systematic review and meta-analysis. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25827510 2. Endocr Res. 2016 May;41(2):142-7. doi: 10.3109/07435800.2015.1094088. Epub 2016 Mar 2. Hypomagnesemia linked to new-onset diabetes mellitus after kidney transplantation: A systematic review and meta-analysis. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26934195 3. Magnesium in Man: Implications for Health and Disease Jeroen H. F. de Baaij, Joost G. J. Hoenderop, René J. M. Bindels http://physrev.physiology.org/content/95/1/1.long 4. Cholesterol LDL jest niezbędny do wzrostu mięśni – MD wrzesień 2011