Top 5 Supplements for Sleep

Fitness, Lifestyle, Review, Supplementation


Before just throwing money at your sleep hygeine and hoping for that illusive 8 hours on your Fitbit, look at singular ingredients which effectively improve your stress symptoms and aid recovery in the long term as opposed to anything that’s just going to knock you out and have you dragging your knuckles on your morning commute.

There’s so many different products containing these ingredients and in different dosages, so be mindful of certain ingredients alongside other  compounds that come in the form of higher concentration proprietary blends before purchasing and potentially making a habit of it.

In no particular order, here are a few sleep supplements that I have personally tried myself during prep last year and that which I have continued to take going forward to assist better sleep and stress recovery.

  1. Ashwagandha/ KSM66

I’ve probably been taking this supplement for the past year and have definitely noticed the benefits with regards to sleep and better yet sleep ‘quality’ on the whole. Stress management is essential when it comes to a successful prep, but these definitely have a place in effective stress reduction day to day also, not just for bodybuilding and high impact exercise.

It doesn’t make me groggy the next day which is essential when getting up at 5am and earlier. Nor does it leave an aftertaste, which some herbal capsules do when digesting. This is a lighter note which one can apply to those likely to forget or misdose different products when taking a few at once, it wouldn’t be dangerous if you happened to forget a dose and have more than one. Now I’m not saying that’s a green light to have as many as you can swallow but You’ll be surprised how much harder it would be to wake willingly to the sound of your alarm had you done this with sleeping tablets or anything stronger. Overall I’ll continue to take this product throughout the year, I have around 800mg half an hour before bed and may have slightly more on a higher output day or one with more stimulants or caffeine in the mix.

  1. ZMA

While ZMA shares similar effects to Ashwagandha, promoting deep sleep and lucid dreaming, ZMA assists the regulation of various vitamins and minerals that are responsible for essential functions of the body, now I’m not a doctor so I couldn’t tell you the specifics supporting these claims but all I know is that this supplement helps me feel well rested and resolved in any particular area of thought that I have been repressing subconsciously, which is essentially what sleep is for right? Besides the obvious resting part. This isn’t something I’d haphazardly have too much of as some of the most vivid dreams I can recall have been whilst taking ZMA. Great product use with caution if you tend to have nightmares already.

  1. 5-HTP

5-Hydroxy tryptophan is an amino acid which helps produce serotonin, the chemical which ascertains the extent or lack thereof, further concerning your overall mood and wellbeing. A prolonged deficiency of these chemicals can be negatively contributing to cases of irritability, depression, anxiety and essentially anything antonymous to happiness.
People tend to take this supplement before and after taking anything which will further affect serotonin production, heavy stim pre’s, party drugs and alcohol. Though prolonged use of 5-HTP would essentially counteract and negate the bodies natural production of serotonin, resulting in a suppresive, overcompensating effect of these feel good hormones. Too much of a good thing isn’t good for anyone, but if you want a pick me up to help you sleep after a stressful day or want to reduce the come down symptoms of a few too many nights out this may be just the thing. Do your own research before taking anything frequently.

  1. Melatonin

Matthew Walker, the author of ‘Why We Sleep’ commented on people’s reliance to sleeping tablets and such to counteract the biproduct of disjointed work schedules, too much caffeine and not enough rest. Melatonin is our sleep hormone, it determines night from day which in turn tells our body when it’s time to sleep. Anything naturally occurring in the body is easy to justify taking considerable amounts of, its already there anyway I just need more of it? Well just like 5-ATP there’s only so much application of supplementing these chemicals in the short term before it becomes detrimental to long term production. On top of this, it’s hard to quantify the exact amount of melatonin contained within certain supplements and products that probably won’t be readily available at your local Holland and Barrett. Nor will they be easy to get hold of, but if you do shift work, are catching more flights than feeling’s and would benefit without being jetlag for longer than necessary, do your research and find a product with the dosage clearly stated.

  1. Valerian root

Considered ‘nature’s valium’ valerian also has the potential to reduce to stress and anxiety alongside being a great night cap supplement. It inhibits the breakdown of Gamma aminobutyric acid or GABA, an amino acid which blocks certain brain signals and decreases activity in the nervous system, promoting autonomic rest and recovery. I personally haven’t tried GABA and this is something which I have been recommended on numerous occasions, but I’m assuming this works in the same way valerian root does, alongside serotonin production and sleep enhancing benefits.

I personally wake up groggily when I’ve taken previously, maybe look at this kind of alternative when you don’t have to get up early and need to be firing on all cyllinders from the off.

Products that contain these ingredients…

Sleep-er by Trec Nutrition

-Melatonin,

-Valerian root

-5-ATP,

Cool as a Cucumber by Boxed off

-ZMA

-Ashwagandha KSM66

Do your research and get your rest 👌

You’re gonna need it 💪

Jake 👊

Rest and Digest

Fitness, Lifestyle, Supplementation

So a lot of what we allow our bodies to do autonomously comes down to what we are aware of ourselves. For something like sleep, intake of nutrients and how well we can further process them is easy to overlook, when we adhere loosely to ‘5 a day’, ‘plenty of greens’, ‘protein for recovery’ and you’re good to go.

It’s this general rule of thumb approach to health which applies to that exact degree, generally, yes balance, yes life and yes you can eat whatever tickles your fancy as long as you are active enough, sure. Especially when the alternative would otherwise be eating absolutely everything you can get your hands on without any regard or remorse, this kind of advise still definitely serves a purpose.

Let’s look at it this way, Fight or flight, the alternative state to rest and digest, our bodies defense to danger and stressors. A reflex which protects us from the elements, burns up calories and would probably deck someone at the checkout in M&S rather than taking the time to read a label.

How much of our impulses and balance of these two states influences our eating lifestyle habits?

You only have to look at how a typical day pans out aside the accessibility of ideal food choices or convenience to match the need to fuel in between meetings and busy schedules. There’s only so many times you can prioritise work over what you put in your body before you realise that you’ve taken all your holiday days and you still don’t feel any better for it.

Can the same be said for sleep? Short changing your bodies chance to rest and digest, spurring on this need for more energy whilst simultaneously starving it of both. A looming overcompensation surely awaits, which is why we always feel so lethargic and tired on a weekend when we’ve actually slept more than in the week. Acknowledge your bodies demand for more rest aside your ability to keep it awake with caffeine and stimulants, they might suppress your appetite and sleepy symptoms momentarily but the demand for deep, restful sleep goes up even further as a result. I do believe there’s such a thing as a sleep hangover which can only further impede on the following week considering frequent weekend debauchery and ludicrously late nights.

Do you starve and gorge? Burning off the remnants of last night’s takeaway in one frantic day without the need to eat and enough adrenaline fuelled stress to make it easier to forget?

Eat and rest?

Do you eat purely for enjoyment or performance? The latter merely being a determining factor for exactly that, you can’t expect to put crisp and dry in an F1 car and expect to win. The same goes for Slimming World and all else aside from macro or calorie counting, everything fits a purpose. If one or the other holds you more accountable for what you consume and better serves your lifestyle or fitness goals I personally think just stick to it.There’ll always be a way to lose weight given you have a big enough incentive to do so, alongside the various new methods and diets that emerge off the back of conventional dieting that doesn’t grab people the same way a quick fix does. Ascertain whether it is sustainable enough to stick to over a longer period with the most effective approach and all other variables considered?

There’s only so much vigour to come out of fads and flexible dieting besides its passive allure, the thought of eating from a post stick note size list of foods certainly doesn’t sound appealing or sustainable to the majority of people. What is important is finding something that works day in day out and only stopping when it stops working.

The same can be said for investing all of your money in your sleep health before putting the simpler of solutions to the test. It’s this immediacy and buy now pay later mentality that has plagued any such bearing or reward for life’s simplest pleasures, a good night’s sleep being one of them? Do you need an expensive mattress? Lavender spray? A Spotify playlist consisting purely of humpback whale songs and shamanic drumming?

Now I’m not saying that any of these things are foolproof methods or required means of helping you sleep, what I am saying is everyone has their own relative habits, if you can do one thing differently and it means you feel better for it, why not?

So here are 5 things you can do, followed by 5 potential supplements you can research for your own use that I have personally tried myself…

1. Shower close to bedtime

The sudden temperate drop from the heat of the shower will allow your body to cool down and rest quicker rather than tossing and turning flustered with heat.

2. Black out your room, that means devices too.

You hear all kinds of witchcraftery with blue light exposure and the effect it has on our brain, while a lot of people tend to use watching something just before they go to sleep to help, and here’s one objection to this rule already. Unless you have to watch something before bed, ditch your phone, put it on charge, close your curtains, turn off any other lights.

3. Eat a Carb rich meal late on.

Now before you all jump down my throat and tell me how you can’t digest food properly this close to bed time, it works for me. So unless you get bloated or struggle to get comfortable shortly after eating a late meal, stick to a few hours before.

4. Light a candle, make it a ritual

Lighting something, whether it’s incense or your favourite candle tells you that’s its time to chill out or time for bed. We’re creatures of habit, just like a morning coffee, anything subtle that can remind us to start winding down is worth doing.

5. Fresh sheets, fresh start

The national sleep foundation found 7/10 subjects recalled a much better sleep and actually looked forward to bedtime much more than not, now unless you’re royalty or have the luxury of sleeping in a nice hotel often enough, the likelihood of fresh sheets every night is pretty unrealistic. Maybe even change them fresh midweek in order to accommodate the last few busy days and crucial sleeps before the weekend?

I can quite happily sleep anywhere if I’m tired enough and it’s near an open window. So if you can find the best ways you can drift off faster and without interruption, repeat this process every night. Making sleep sound like a military operation, but if you’re up early every day and your performance is residing on the quality of your rest, it’s worth looking into more closely.

Now since were trying to utilise all of the above before all of the things below, I’m putting these next 5 products in a seperate blog as a means of encouraging your own research and understanding of them before buying.

In no particular order…

1. Ashwagandha

2. ZMA

3. Melatonin

4. Valerian root

5. 5-HTP

These are all things which I will discuss in more detail in my next blog

‘Top 5 supplements for sleep’

Happy rest and digest-ing

Jake 💪

The Curse of Information

Lifestyle, Special, Supplementation

Being well informed or standing from a position of knowledge is a circumstance to which one can do two things, offer wisdom which has a malleable relevance, or helm a single piece of advice with a resounding significance to themselves. Their truth to ‘triumph’ any such contest a falsehood, to failure. For what may have been the catalyst of an even faster time or the lunging step at the finish of a seasoned athlete, could one’s solution essentially be another’s problem? This is how I perceive the potentiality of being over-informed.

I’m not saying that there aren’t great lessons to be learned from witnessing the actions of those in positions unbeknownst to us, nor am I denying that there is true wisdom to be acknowledged from the ponderous plot of life, providing context to a later surmounting purpose. But how can we contrive a path, only we ourselves endeavour, when we are so easily seduced down another? Our reluctance to fashion the same ill-temperament as those ushering us into the betterment of their own selfishness has only concreted a judgement which confines us to the mirage of their imagination.

In simple terms, our paths are even more so unique than the crisp fingerprints paved into our skin, a clarity calloused by a wrinkling and scarring of experience. While we are the first to breathe OUR first breath, one has had their own before you and another will after, so why then, autonomous in our internal capacity to breathe, are we so quick to fashion our lives on the breath of others. If your every inhale had to be matched with someone else, how long would it take until you were out of sync? If they were stressed, how much faster would your own breathing need to be to keep up and how would that impede on your own decisions.

We all undergo our own internal processes in order to grow, the external being the physical actions alluding to our experiences. It is all too easy to bask and praise in the external greatness of those that are seemingly better off than us, while the key that they present to you may only succeed to unlock one door in your own hallway of truths. The possibilities to which may be forever unbeknownst if you let other people hide what is truly your own. Stick to what serves you and entertain only that which further impressions the shape of your path, be entertained but don’t entertain the cynicism of those that don’t know the way either.

 

Injury Prevention & Realistic Goal Setting

Lifestyle, Supplementation

Having long-term injuries and facing various other barriers to exercise can certainly be a frustrating hindrance on ones potential goals. Do I take it easy for a few months? How much of my progress is going to be sacrificed during said rest period? What am I actually working towards? These are all questions faced by active individuals, passionate about bettering themselves each day, even if it does not bear further application to a particular sport or goal. Ultimately –and this is something I have come to identify when assessing my own diet and supplementation for the purpose of injury prevention– at some point our bodies will naturally want to start putting the brakes on. Many of us that have an incline to competitive/impact sports even at a non-professional level, will soon have to weigh up the risks and further implications said activity may have in the future.

Although I had dabbled in a number of sports before going to high school, when I was first introduced to Rugby, it seemed all of the traits impeding me in other fields could finally be put to some good use. I was never the most technical player, crediting the entirety of a game on how many big shots I could put on people without getting caught offside, even if that meant getting blindsided nearly even time. In hindsight, even picking up the odd sprain and taking a few bad knocks on the knees was enough to put my training –off the pitch– on hold for a good few weeks, is this really worth it? >The question that has to be applied to almost anything with the potential to pose further complications, moving forward. As I have continued to reiterate the importance of building a solid foundation and consolidating good technique with volume, a similar crossroad has presented itself –go heavier, increased risk of injury? go lighter, increased risk of complacency and plateau? This is the point to which both the egotistical and logical platforms of the brain collide, an outcome determined by whichever system has control.

In relation to creating an ideal environment for the body to withstand stress and recover accordingly, injury prevention is also a matter that can be aided through sound nutrition and relevant supplementation –regardless of whether you’re committed to a particular training regime for a short period or in it for the long hall. Then there’s always pre-emptive approach; wearing knee wraps/sleeves for squats, always incorporating a sufficient warm up and maintaining a fluid range of movement to name just a few staples of good practice. My point resides more so on the side of  planning and conditioning the body for stress, before shocking it into an eventual submission. Meaning that if you aren’t a strength athlete or Powerlifter, prolong the time and weight to which you may only be able to do a handful, for ‘special occasions’ if you like. These will be coming on the back of absolute consistency in all aspects and nothing else. When you look around the gym and observe the expanse of people in all shapes and sizes, notice how their training approach reflects on their physique? The water babies and the monsters? Will repeated and continuous overload do their joints any favours? Probably not. Before we get onto the second point of setting realistic goals, take the time to consider the implications of your particular training method in its entirety; risks as well as benefits, managing them accordingly. If your goal is strength, be sure to factor in de-load weeks, ensure longer rest times between sets and do not let adrenaline warrant training with injuries. On the flip-side, prepare for higher rep ranges and tempos with a relevant warm-up that imitates the more ballistic movements to avoid overloading tendons/joints specifically.

Setting goals for a lot of people is exciting; marking the groundwork for possibilities in ‘X’ amount of days/weeks/months, but setting realistic goals is something that comes with experience of progressive capability and adherence. Plainly put, ‘effective’ goals would never be constructed by averages and guess-work. Bench Press, WEEK1-110/WEEK2-120/WEEK3-130 does not mean that you should be pressing 140 by the following week. As I previously mentioned the implications of adrenaline during such a decision, note that just because you can throw every ounce of strength into the short time of of a rep does not mean that you can lift it correctly. I’ve already narrowed down my readership by now so I know I won’t be offending anyone with this question, Would you rather say you can press 150,badly and look like shit? Or, comfortably rack out reps of even half the amount and continue to see positive changes. This is what it all boils down to, respecting the fact that particular sports and athletes would be required to consistently train heavy to satisfy a particular total, but these guys probably don’t plan on looking like the average dude. In terms of setting realistic weight goals and the time frame in which you expect to be successful, be aware of how losing half a stone one week may not gage your ability to do the same the next. Just as one cannot be expected to add on an additional 10KG  each week working up to a 1RM. The two topics of the title do go hand in hand, in the sense that setting realistic goals, whether that be weight or strength, will alleviate and prevent too much stress being induced by the body, we do only get given one, treat it with respect.

Jake  👊

 

 

 

Grenade Fatburner Vs Dexaprine XR

Review, Supplementation

If we can establish the most generic application of fatburners into one’s diet, it’s going to be that point of desperation during the weeks that precede a summer holiday. Now that this time has passed, this is purely aimed at anyone still considering either of the two fat burners specified in the near future. I have already covered the precarious instance of substantiating good whole foods with supplements in Over supplementing your diet  and Should I take ‘fat-burners?’ making this comparison one that feeds into the argument of significant diet changes –either temporary or permanent– VS overall output. 

First we need to consider the actual potency and further practical application of each product. This is due to the fact of paying for something that requires a somewhat dietary cleansing may be enough to provide results, over a concoction of questionable ingredients in the product itself. Most often that not, the diuretic properties of caffeine in high amounts may easily overshadow the less renowned and less concentrated fat burning compounds, to propel such a simple addition of common black coffee to the forefront of weight loss increments in toto. Such application is more common than those looking for more extreme and most likely more potent supplements to assist fat loss, although recent marketing of said products, factored in alongside somewhat ‘quick-fix’ plans has led to an increase in intrigue and ultimate demand. 

Now depending on ones general caffeine consumption, susceptibility to stimulants and the ability to take capsules on an empty stomach, both products –more so for someone with a physically exerting job– may not exactly culminate an ideal situation for the everyday. This is due to the fact that jittery and sweating sensations  can be expected on the first few occasions of taking them. More often than not, using fatburners in high amounts can burn out your endocrine system to the point of making significant effects redundant after prolonged usage. If the rating of each product below can illustrate this juxtaposition of strength and possible ‘side effects’ any further, I may add that a higher rating/ 👊👊👊👊👊 may not always be indicative of ‘better’;

                                         Grenade                      Dexaprine XR

Jitters                             👊👊👊                      👊👊👊👊👊

Flushes *face*            👊👊                           👊👊👊

Sweating                       👊👊👊                      👊👊👊👊

L-Lasting Energy       👊👊👊                      👊👊👊👊👊

Appetite suppression👊👊👊                     👊👊👊👊

From a contrast of effectiveness in relation to energy and appetite suppression along with somewhat quantifiable side effects, one may expect that Dexaprine XR would seem like the most effective product overall? Well numerous acquaintances that match myself on susceptibility to stimulants and somewhat rigorous application of them in an active lifestyle do also concur with my thoughts of it being simply too intense for the everyday. The overwhelming side effects whilst using Dexaprine XR may likely subside after prolonged use, although I would add that the attraction of implementing such a product into a lower carb diet for example, is one that would bear extremely fast yet consequently reversible results in similar time frames.

Moreover, using a product packing this much of a punch would only bear significant benefits in the short term, as resounding as they are; burning just as many calories walking rather than HIIT could definitely be too big of an opportunity not to try at least once. It all boils down to tolerance, one that may be the deciding factor in whether you can carry 1 bag as opposed to the usual 2, can push through jitters adding up cells on a spreadsheet or simply spend your lunch break with your head in a fridge.

In an attempt to avoid a tedious listing of both product ingredients and numerical values, here they are purely for further reference;

Grenade-

screen-shot-2016-10-06-at-11-40-41

Dexaprine XR- *DMAA Free*

screen-shot-2016-10-06-at-11-43-21

One aspect of fat burning supplements frequently overlooked despite its importance is their appetite suppressing element.Bitter orange peel or ‘Synephrine’ is the main component of both products, the precursor of the adrenaline-like rush leading to reduced appetite. To compare the 420mg of Synephrine in a serving of Grenade, Dexaprine XR’s proprietary blend of 805mg could mean that any of the listed ingredients may be featured in any amount, to the dismay or preference of someone only having to take one capsule for an equal or surpassing effect to Grenade. The ambiguity across such a list of components may defect potential users, a clear indicator to always check the contents of a product before buying and certainly before trying.

To conclude it seems that most of the attention has been acquired by IForce’s Dexaprine XR, although this is more for insight and warning as opposed to recommendation. Sure this product has considerable potential as a somewhat no holds barred stim’, but should be approached with caution. Grenade’s Thermo Detonator offers a much more sustainable and more applicable alternative to harsh side effects of most other fat burners on the market. These tend to bear infamous banned stimulants such as DMAA, Ephedrine and various nieces and nephews of the amphetamine family. Grenade incorporates a solid base of proven and effective ingredients without those which tend to peg up question marks on not only their application but safety. Grenade seems to do near enough everything that IForce’s product does without as many side effects and without the fear of such strong sensations refusing to subside in the near future.

Please go and follow my IG JAKEDARCYFITNESS  👊

Should I take Test-boosters?

Lifestyle, Review, Supplementation

So in a recent article I mentioned the use and dangers of pro-hormones, the synthetic compounds one would take to facilitate higher levels of testosterone. Our testosterone levels peak around the stages of puberty and throughout our twenties, to decline as we age. While some men may have low testosterone for a number of medical and psychological reasons, there are some with much higher base levels, a section of men that will most likely build and maintain muscle much easier than the average guy even without the use of anabolic steroids, growth hormone etc. To narrowly avoid the precarious genetics debate of such individuals, let’s just say that it’s no shock to see these guys on a bodybuilding stage or in sports that require such muscular size, strength and endurance. If you believe that anything is possible with consistent training and diet, continue to work against the odds and persevere through scepticism. For everyone else who may suspect that there are more than just an array of physiological factors in place to look like these guys, yes, testosterone is certainly the catalyst. Nonetheless, higher testosterone levels can be acquired naturally; through exercise, through diet and of course adequate supplementation.  The benefits of using testosterone-boosting supplements will differ from person to person, making their overall effectiveness questionable to those expecting to notice bigger arms or a bigger bench. 

Even though there isn’t is a resounding correlation between visual muscularity -that most guys want, and strength, we still think it’s just as important to be reasonably strong, maybe its an ego thing, I don’t know. But I would say that upon adhering to the numerous factors aforementioned in articles concerning: macros, the importance of sleep, hydration and the effects of alcohol, it is definitely possible to make substantial strength improvements when implementing testosterone boosters to a well-structured diet and training routine. This isn’t just from my own experience, plenty of guys I’ve trained with in the past, friends and fellow fitness enthusiasts have reassured me of the same. That being said, and although these supplements are considered ‘enhancers’ they still can’t possibly substantiate the improper practice of the fundamentals. In ‘Over supplementing your diet’ I mentioned how the likes of supplementation should support a somewhat already perfected diet, a mere cherry on top of the cake of basic principles everyone seems to neglect and question when their importance is stressed in conversation. In terms of tangible effects, I’ve noticed elevated energy levels, increased appetite and even a substantial libido boost, depending on the relevant product and its ingredients. I wouldn’t say they have such a shock-like capacity as pre-workout or fat burners but still enough to fill the once lethargic, demotivated void that one often faces at the end of a busy day or stressful week.

You will probably notice how much your appetite goes up whilst training regularly, imagine that your testosterone levels take the same route in this respect. Which is why taking test-boosters has been an essential part of my supplement regime over the last few weeks. I have had to take a short break from training due to a recent injury, and while assuming that I’d be eating a lot more with all the extra time on my hands, it’s been quite the opposite. I do feel that during this time my appetite would have been next to nothing without test-boosters. By now you can probably sense that I highly recommend these supplements, incorporating them as part of a cyclical regime, as opposed to taking them over consecutive months. This way the potential benefits can reciprocate upon each use, rather than being somewhat taken for granted.

While there are probably hundreds of different test-boosting products, you’re likely to find a handful of key ingredients that even define subcategories on supplement sites such as Dolphin FitnessMost of these are somewhat herbal, deriving form medicinal plants and compounds renowned for matters concerning sexual health and vitality, nonetheless, they are highly useful in boosting testosterone;

Sodium DAA
ZMA- Zinc, Magnesium, Vitamin B6
Tribulus Terrestris
Fenugreek
Maca
Horny Goat Weed
Tongkat Ali
Yohimbe
Bulbine Natalensis
Massularia Acuminate
Ginger root

In my opinion these are the most popular ingredients you will find on the market, also including a few that I have used and found highly effective. For products that feature these ingredients in higher amounts, I’d recommend using either T-Up Black by Nutrex or RELOAD by Extreme Nutrition.

Please follow my IG fitness page, hopefully new content and videos in the near future.

JAK3D 👊

Should I take Pro-hormones?

Lifestyle, Supplementation

Now not to be confused with ‘test boosters’ pro-hormones are mostly unclassified synthetic compounds which can have a detrimental impact on natural hormone production when used incorrectly. These androgenic products, synonymous to anabolic steroids are often grouped together under a different name and marketed like any other legal bodybuilding supplement, but can be just as toxic- if not ‘worse’ than the ‘the real thing’ This is due to the fact that they are mostly taken orally and present the liver with a highly complex concoction of different chemicals, as opposed to just one. There are numerous supplements available that assist and reduce liver toxicity whilst taking anabolic substances; milk thistle, Liv.52 etc realistically though, the type of guy that takes pro-hormones wont be interested in buying any additional ‘precautionary’ products, as they won’t actually make him any bigger.

Like all androgenic compounds, pro-hormones are designed to stimulate the production of Testosterone, the hormone that distinguishes us with male characteristics. While Testosterone levels vary from person to person, higher levels of the hormone will increase ones ability to obtain muscular strength and size, hence why steroids have such an important role within medical procedure and rehabilitation. While you’ll most likely hear the horror stories and side effects of using anabolic steroids, ultimately, they are only as harmful as the person using them. That being said, if you’re attracted to the fact that pro-hormones are legal and aren’t convinced they could do you much harm, think again.

There are so many different variations of these unclassified steroids and androgenic components, the potency of each will vary. For most people, pro-hormones aren’t as strong as steroids and taking a higher dose is the best policy, although some can be even stronger- M1T, Superdrol. This along with fact of the supplement industry coining the whole ‘stack’ or ‘stacking’ ploy from professional athletes open about steroid use such as Rich Piana -taking more than one at a time to satisfy a specific role. ‘Stacking’ these products isn’t entirely safe and will only make ‘coming off’ more problematic.

Now while you can buy pro-hormones at most supplement stores, most people tend to buy them online because of the whole pro-hormone/steroid ‘taboo’ po-tato, pot-ato. Meaning that anyone unaware of the importance of hormone care when using these supplements will be finding out too late. As I have previously mentioned it’s not necessarily the drugs, it’s abusing them, which brings me on to how people recover from using these products.

‘PCT’ or Post Cycle Therapy supplements, regulate hormones back to where they were originally, whilst minimizing Estrogen in the body- the female hormone. These supplements are essential, especially when having taken stronger versions of pro-hormones  that completely shut down the body’s ability to produce testosterone. This is another major element that guys always seem to disregard. Failing to sufficiently manage hormone levels after the use of anabolic compounds, can leave you with side effects similar to that of prolonged steroid use; hair loss, gynaecomastia and even erectile dysfunction. 

If you’re gonna go through all of this trouble, you’re probably better off doing your homework and getting advice from someone that actually knows what they’re doing, who understands how steroids work and the safest way to use them. Just because pro-hormones are easily accessible does not means that they aren’t dangerous and can’t give you some bad side effects- I’m glad we’ve crossed this bridge, stop taking pro-hormones, but if you’re gonna do it- I can’t stop you.

Please follow my IG fitness page, hopefully new content and videos in the near future.

JAK3D 👊

Should I take ‘fat-burners?’

Lifestyle, Supplementation

As each year comes around it seems there’s even less time to get in shape for summer, still, don’t be in SUCH a rush to lose that extra baggage you’ve accumulated over the last few months. Thanks to YouTube, cos who reads books nowadays? We are becoming, ever so surely- smarter. No longer do we need to sieve through the mass of scientific jargon to pick out useful information or have to ask someone with a relevant degree for help. Nonetheless, this does not mean our judgement on what we put in our bodies has improved, by any means.

For a lot of people, ‘Fatburners’ sound like JUST the thing to assist weight loss, even if their activity level is ‘next to nothing’ and while the majority of ingredients in these types of supplements are legal, they are not entirely safe. Now if you’re a professional athlete, fitness enthusiast or just an average guy, your body’s threshold managing physical exertion will extend over time. Meaning that your body will adapt to pretty much anything you do often enough. If you look at professions that require higher amounts of physical exertion such as a scaffolder or labourer, the strength developed by strenuous activity will adapt in order to function the job at hand. That being said, top athletes apply additional elements to their training and diet in terms of optimising their performance. Imagine that Elevation training masks weren’t just for idiots that want to look like Bane and ARE designed for serious athletes. Well, fatburners are kind of like this too. The thermogenic capacity of these products is down to a few distinctive ingredients that you will find in most ‘fat burning’ or ‘metabolism boosting’ products.

Just to name a few…

  •  CAFFEINE: Now while Caffeine is an everyday component of an active lifestyle, it also has diuretic properties in higher amounts- like your bladder if you’ve ever tried the Volvic 14 day challenge- but all the time.
  • GREEN TEA EXTRACT: Green tea is no longer just for folks that have a yoga mat and a vegetable garden, it too has diuretic properties, boosts metabolism and looks great on Instagram with a slice of lemon.
  • CLA- Conjugated linoleic acid: Another common ingredient in most diet/ fatburning supplements but will most likely be sold individually. CLA is a fatty acid that affects the enzymes that burn fat from both fat cells and fat within the blood- apparently.
  • Citrus Aurantium or ‘bitter orange’ This is a compound yielding similar properties to all of the above, including the release of epinephrine for improved focus and energy. I do believe the nervous/hot/jittery energy comes from this component within a fair few fat burning supplements I have tried, so do be cautious.
There are plenty of other common ingredients within most popular supplements like ketones, various herbs and capsaicin. Capsaicin is an active component of the chilli pepper, you can see where this is going…
By raising the temperature of the body, we burn more fat. Well that’s the plan anyway. This is why you’ll find ingredients in products that derive or relate to capsaicin such as cayenne pepper in Grenade Thermo Detonator. So technically if I eat a tonne of spicy food I will lose weight? Well no probably not. Nevertheless the role of heat-inducing compounds are essential in fatburners. As I previously mentioned these would be beneficial to individuals that have all of the fundamental controls in place in order to ‘cut’ employing the use of such products to optimise their performance and capacity to burn fat, NOT having the work done FOR THEM. This brings me on to people reasonably new to these types of supplements, unaware of their effects when combined with intense exercise. Bearing in mind supplement brands promoting aforesaid products will sometimes encourage users to take ‘X’ amount of servings in the hope of increasing ‘performance’ but even just ONE of the two- even three capsules recommended in a ‘serving’ could still put someone new to fat burners -even pre-workout- in a bit of a panic. If you’ve not exercised for quite some time and are desperate to lose the weight you’ve accumulated, at least get back into the swing of things before even considering using fat burners. This will only prevent you from passing out at the gym, or worse. If you’re considering the use of fat burners everyday, be sure to think about whether this will impede on your working capability of day to day tasks, will there be the possibility of a fan? am I on edge? is there a puddle in my shoe?
Fatburners and fasted cardio? This is a no-brainer, don’t do it. If you’re familiar with fasted cardio you’ll know that that the big HB- heartburn is bad enough without throwing a ghost chilli and shot of adrenaline in the mix. Don’t forget having these on an empty stomach will drastically increase the effects, you might sweat just as much as you would when doing HIIT , it’s probably not a good idea to pair these together, I once learned.
 Ultimately, fat burners are helpful to implement on top of a good solid diet, they speed up the process of weight-loss to an extent and do provide a somewhat substantial amount of energy when its needed -especially on low-carb days- even if it is all from caffeine. I would however, like to point out that they are not for beginners and certainly not for people with a poor cardiovascular ability, low activity level or bad tolerance of stimulants.
Don’t forget to follow my fitness page on Instagram, new videos coming soon…
JAK3D 👊

Mutant Mass vs USN’s Muscle Fuel Anabolic

Supplementation

With the current overhaul of ‘weight gainers’ on the supplement market, it’s hard to filter through such that may be of substantial benefit to diets requiring extra calories or stuff that’s basically packed with more sugar than a tub or two of Ben & Jerry’s. Now obviously to bump up the calorie content there’s gonna be some sacrifice to clean carb sources, so it’s fitting to compare what I deem to be the two hard-hitting weight-gain products on the current market; USN’s Muscle Fuel Anabolic and MUTANT Mass.
These brands are worlds apart in terms of their approach to training and diet philosophy. If you’re not familiar with Mutant, It’ll most likely feature a behemoth like Rich Piana and market itself in a way that would probably deter the ‘average’ person that maybe doesn’t pride themselves in looking like a Belgian Bleur that can’t tie their own shoelaces. USN takes a much more marketable approach, with an expense of endorsements from numerous top athletes and fitness models, presenting the potential of attainable physiques as a result of proper training and nutrition.
With regards to the cost, size and value of each product, Mutant’s 6.8KG bag will stretch your money much further than MFA’s 4KG tub with the average online price of both products ranging between £43-£50. Although depending on which serving suggestion you adhere to when using each product will determine how many servings you can expect. MFA suggests using 150g in every serving to which there are 26 in every tub, a smaller 100g would give 40 servings for individuals not wanting 90g of carbs sitting on their stomach. Mutant Mass also features the same amount in each 130g serving but does have almost three times the amount of sugar as the 7g in a serving of the USN All in One. This is definitely evident in the taste of Mutant Mass across the three flavours I have tried; Cookies & Cream, Triple Chocolate and Peanut Butter. They are quite sickly and don’t sit very well to say the least, making it difficult to have in conjunction with a diet requiring a surplus of calories. The strawberry, vanilla and chocolate cream flavours of Muscle Fuel Anabolic are definitely much more palatable, with a thinner consistency that mixes with minimum effort as opposed to Mutant Mass that should come with a free cement mixer. No it does EVENTUALLY mix together but can’t imagine why anyone would attempt to consume FOUR scoops indicated within the nutritional information, bearing in mind each 130g has the same amount of sugar as a typical serving of Ben & Jerry’s. Some of Mutants ‘athletes’ even condone putting a few ladles of ice cream into shakes which I personally think is ill-advised to those who don’t know the technicalities of diet and are wholly impressionable to what they see online. Although I do feel like as a “does what it says on the tin’ type product, it’d be narrow-minded of me to fail to recognise some people aspire to reach the largest form they can possibly attain, therefore by requiring extra calories by convenient means is just as practically justified as MFA to athletes in a surplus of calories.
As far as protein is concerned MFA’s 150g serving has double the 25g in Mutant Mass, and although there is probably some merit in comparing each of the various protein sources in both MFA and Mutant Mass I’d rather not to go down this precarious rabbit hole leaving me in no-mans land between vegans and everyone else with a degree in nutrition. With the ever-growing knowledge of supplementation within the bodybuilding community it’s great to see brands that can cover an array of different nutritional functions in a single product, and it’s clear that Muscle Fuel Anabolic covers near enough every point on the spectrum. With 3g of Creatine in every serving, ZMA and a huge amino acid profile including arginine, glutamine and aspartic acid, You’re looking at a good £25/30 saving from just the Creatine and amino acids alone. Mutant Mass does also hold a rather sufficient profile, each serving containing the afore mentioned AND MORE in abundance will support muscle breakdown, protein synthesis and the potential increase of growth hormone, making it a fundamental staple of recovery.
Ultimately, I can’t see the amino acid profile clawing it back for Mutant Mass, although it will definitely be of some benefit for the hard-gainer that counts KG on his bench and never the scales. I feel Muscle Fuel Anabolic is much more suited to my goals in terms of gaining lean muscle gradually in a surplus of reasonably clean calories rather than overloading on sugar and mistaking an overloaded carb pump for genuine progress. I will continue to use MFA during this stage in my training but would consider using Mutant Mass in the event that I take up powerlifting or a sport that requires a lot more calories in order to maintain or to grow.

Please follow my new Instagram page for further diet/supplement posts and hopefully traing videos in the near future 👊

JAK3D 👊

Over supplementing your diet 

Lifestyle, Supplementation

Now whether you’re just starting out training or you consider yourself a seasoned pro, supplementation is probably gonna be a reoccurring topic of your lifting life. Each time you order your most recent ‘stack’ you’ll always be faced with some degree of doubt as to whether you should stick to your guns or try something new. This also includes adding a tub or two of pre workout to your basket so you’re “eligible for free delivery” and not because you now need three scoops just to get you through ‘cardio’ – whatever that is. Ultimately, you’ve rationalised a huge section for supplementation in your diet so much so that not only will most of what you consume be full of sweeteners/preservatives by convenient means such as bars or shakes, you most likely have very little left to afford the main component of your diet, food.

So why does it seem like I’m forbidding people to buy them? despite the fact that I spend a fair amount of supplements. Well the function of supplementation for me is simply a matter of convenience. If I had a different job or was lucky enough to work from home, I probably wouldn’t even buy supplements just so I could focus more on the better nutritional sources from actual food rather than something in powder form.

This does not mean however, most supplements aren’t nutritionally sound or useful as part of your diet, because most will be exactly that. However the fact that people may have allowed supplements to overshadow more important aspects of their diet without knowing, may be problematic when perhaps they can’t afford it, a certain product is out of stock or even discontinued. You may feel like your progress will suffer without supplements and probably already convinced yourself that you look smaller after missing one shake post-workout, but be realistic and don’t keep checking yourself at every mirror opportunity, because it was probably only a bit of water weight the starter three servings of ‘x’ or 5 servings of ‘y’ would do anyway.

This is another thing, look on the back of your containers to see exactly how many servings you’ll get and how many you actually need daily as opposed to what is suggested for “the hardcore gainer” -this is by no means a challenge and not only will this stop you getting your money’s worth by doubling up servings, you’ll soon begin to replace the food in your diet, by something that will obviously be more convenient but insufficient in the role of fueling your body properly, rather than just feeling temporarily ‘full’ Despite acknowledging that consuming more specific nutrients during the whole “anabolic window” may have some benefit behind it, this is also yet another method to encourage you to consume more and buy EVEN more, so try to sieve out genuine serving instructions from yet another marketing ploy.

For a lot of people, the addition of any new supplement will be for an extra ‘boost’ and that’s understandable, but be sure to at least research some of the ingredients in certain products individually before jumping straight in. Many substances can have a profound effect on one person and not even touch another, regardless of ones tolerance to ‘similar’ compounds, so obviously don’t take the amount you may have had using a previous product.

When it comes to any kind of stimulant or test booster making it’s way into your shopping basket every month, be sure to realise whether it’s still having a constructive part to play, as the effect from these types of products will gradually wear off. If it’s the break from caffeine you need in order to allow your system to level out, realise the advantage of saving such energy-based supplements for when you actually plateau or have recently had a few weeks off from training because of injury or otherwise.

When if comes to preworkout, if you haven’t already made the connection to the ‘3D’ – perhaps another topic- I myself became dependant on stimulants to the point where training without them seemed redundant. Making this realisation probably saved me from seriously harming my body as well as the detrimental effect on my training. I now appreciate the facility of supplements that I believe potentially have a positive effect in moderation to the point where I only find myself buying essential supplements that support an active schedule such as protein powder and maybe even pre-workout when I feel it will be beneficial and not destructive.

In terms of what you could potentially take that may be beneficial to your diet considering all of the above, I’d suggest researching a few different ingredients or compounds yourself to help you consider your options when choosing a ‘pre’ or test-booster.
For pre workout, any reputable brand with enough CAFFEINE that’s gonna get you through a demanding workout but not gonna keep you up for a week. As far as CREATINE is concerned, I don’t see this being of immediate enough effect to you to make it a must despite the fact this’ll probably be in every pre’ on the market anyway, but again nothing stupidly dosed everyday that’s gonna swell you up like a puffer fish but shrivel you like a prune when you haven’t had as much water that day. Any HERB or l long-ass word that seems to be a plant-like substance that you tried to google but ended up on some hippy-bashing Wikipedia page; take with a pinch of salt and see if you can find a credible study or even more credible BRO that has tried it himself. If this is the case and if seemed to work for him, see if this was actually legit or not due to the concoction of other shit, but anyway. BETA-ALANINE, this is the stuff that makes you feel like you’ve got ants crawling on your skin if you have too much, but a warmish buzz of energy when ‘dosed’ correctly, you’ll also find this in most popular products on the market, so if you’re deterred by the thought of an unfamiliar sensation double check if this ingredient happens to be in the product you may still be deciding on.

As far as test-boosters are concerned, most of the ingredients you will find within them will feature some of the same plant-like substances previously mentioned, where the official effects are mainly myth but can prove otherwise after trying it yourself. Naturally occurring herbs such as ‘TRIBULUS TERRESTRIS’, ‘MACA’ and ‘HORNY GOAT WEED’ all share a similar credibility within certain cultures as aphrodisiacs, thus instilling a stronger libido and even appetite in some, although others claimed no significant benefit. Despite some of their outlandish titles, along with SODIUM D-ASPARTIC ACID, I believe it’s definitely worth investing in some if not all of these at some point to satisfy the curiosity of boosting testosterone naturally without total hormonal shutdown that improper use of anabolics or prohormones may have.

For any supplement advice or general discussion about any aforesaid topic, feel free to email me;

jakedarcy098@hotmail.co.uk
JAK3D 👊