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Other Supplements






            This section takes a look at the “odds and ends” of current supplementation use.

            I give my opinion on what works, and what doesn’t.

            The recommendations of this section are based on current scientific knowledge.  Although most of these substances are good for something, my judgement on them is based entirely on safety and performance enhancing (ergogenic) ability.


            Boy, what a broad band of functionalities these substances have.  They can increase growth hormone release, they can precurse more biologically active compounds, they can effect moods, sleep, energy levels, act as muscle cell volumizers.

            Amino acids are generally classified as ‘Essential’ or ‘Non-Essential’ or a new classification emerging known as ‘conditionally essential’.

            ‘Essential aminos’ are amino acids the body cannot manufacture itself and so has to get through diet.

            ‘Non-Essential aminos’ are the other main class.  It comprises of amino acids which the body can manufacture itself from other aminos.

            ‘Conditionally Essential aminos’ are a small class contained within the ‘non-essential’ category of aminos.  Under certain conditions of stress (exercise) the body cannot manufacture enough of the ‘non-essential’ amino acids and so under these conditions it is essential that it be provided through dietary intake - hence the term “conditionally essential”.



                        Isoleucine                        Leucine                        Lysine                        Methionine

                        Phenylalanine                 Threonine                     Tryptophan                Valine  



                       Arginine                        Histidine                        Taurine                        Glutamine  


            Ornithine, Carnitine, Tyrosine, Glycine, Gaba, Histidine, Cysteine, Cystine, Proline,   
            Aspargine and Aspartic Acid, Citrucline, Serine.  


            Collectively the three amino acids Isoleucine, Leucine and Valine are known as the BRANCHED CHAIN AMINO ACIDS (BCAA’s).

            A recently discovered metabolite of Leucine, known as HMB (beta Hydroxy beta Methylbutyrate) now joins the ranks with creatine monohydrate as a proven ergogen.  HMB slows muscle breakdown following training and thus the anabolic environment set up by the workout is fully utilised for new growth rather than recovery.  Researchers believe that at least 30 grams of leucine is required for the body to manufacture 3 grams of  HMB.  Three grams of  HMB per day is an effective dose for an 80kg bodybuilder.

            Arginine has long been acknowledged as a potent stimulator of growth hormone release when infused intravenously.  Ornithine, Leucine and glutamine also raise levels of growth hormone.

            Glutamine boosts the immune system and may have a cell volumizing effect - not unlike creatine.  (See Glutamine Section II Recovery p 35).

            Carnitine is responsible for transporting fats into the mitochondria (furnace part) of a cell.  (See Carnitine Section I Energy Systems p 25, Section III Fat Loss p 47).

            Individual amino acids of significance are listed under their name.



            This is a very general term used to describe a wide variety of substances which have different antioxidant properties.  An antioxidant is a substance that neutralizes the damaging effects of free radicals (electrons) which are a by product of oxidation.  Antioxidants can be vitamins, minerals, or herbs derived from a diverse range of substances eg  Vit C, Vit E, Green Tea, pine bark, grape seed.  All these substances are or contain antioxidants.

            Some are more potent than others.  Some work along slightly different pathways.

            The following is a list of some of the best antioxidants and how they can be of help.

            VIT C  -  3 grams per day

            VIT E  -  500iu per day

            (Essential Vitamins)

            CAROTENES  (beta-carotene (carrots), lycopene (tomatoes))  100mg per day

            SELENIUM (mineral)  100mcg per day

            Proanthocyanidins       (pine bark, grape seed extract)  200mg per day

                                                  (reported to be 40 times more powerful than the vitamin antioxidants)


            Curcuminoids              (spice tumeric)




            Methionine,  Cysteine, (Amino Acids)


            N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC)  400mg per day


            Bilberry, Rosemary, Ginkgo biloba , Alfalafa (lucerne) (HERBS)


            CATECHINS  (green tea)


            Glutathione (most abundant water-soluble antioxidant inside of cells)


            Lipoic acid  200mg per day


            Flavonoids (fruits)


            Bioflavonoids (quercetin, rutin and hesperidin)


PERSONAL ADVICE:  Although antioxidants will not enhance immediate athletic performance, over a career span they will provide an edge by helping to minimize the damaging (and ‘ageing’) effects of free radicals.

            A daily ‘Multi’ Antioxidant would be a good idea.  The dosages suggested for the above categories of antioxidants are amounts which have proven to be effective.


ADRENAL GLANDS  and various other glandulars are the ground up and freeze dried constituents of animal glands.  They contain negligible amounts of active hormones.

            And even then, most if not all genetic information that was contained will be destroyed during digestion, since genetic information is coded in DNA as a specific protein.  Oral glandulars like all proteins, are broken down during digestion.

            To have any possibility of working, glandulars would need to contain around 100 times the amount of active hormone generally found in commercial Freeze Dried glandular products.

PERSONAL ADVICE:  With so many other effective supplements now available, don’t waste your money on expensive low quality protein.



            Very new.

            An adrenal hormone and is the direct precursor to testosterone.  It is made in both males and females.  It is also found in the pollen of certain pine trees classing it as a ‘dietary supplement’.

            This is one to watch out for.  More research is required on its effects on athletes - if any and potential side-effects.

PERSONAL ADVICE:  Keep your eyes on the thrillseekers (first to try anything type of mentality) and see with your own eyes any results - good or bad.


BORON     Ever since Boron was shown to slightly increase testosterone in post-menopausal women it has been sold as a dietary supplement.  Too bad it has absolutely no effect on testosterone in healthy athletes.


PERSONAL ADVICE:  Don’t waste your money.  Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables if you want boron.


BCAA’s    Acronym for 3 AMINO ACIDS (LEUCINE, ISOLEUCINE, and VALINE) formed in a BRANCHED CHAIN.  In high enough doses, may help improve recovery.  However, much of this may be a result of a metabolite much more active than the original Amino Acid.  The amino acid I’m talking of is Leucine and its metabolite is HMB.


PERSONAL ADVICE:  Since HMB has been scientifically proven to aid muscle growth in persons training, I would much rather put all my money on the ‘SURE THING’, despite its steep price, and use HMB instead.


BEE POLLEN    May be good for other things, but definitely not for improving athletic performance.  Even high doses 20-30 grams per day which does have a mentally stimulating effect (Buzz) has no effect on performance.


PERSONAL ADVICE:  Don't take for improving athletic performance.


DHEA   A hormone which converts to ANDROSTENEDIONE which then converts to Testosterone.  Has been shown to increase testosterone levels in older adults.

            Classed as a Dietary supplement - Personal Use Only.


PERSONAL ADVICE:   If you’re young, forget it DHEA only works in restoring an older persons steroid production to levels of when they were younger.  Consult your doctor if you decide to try DHEA.


EPHEDRA/EPHEDRINE   EPHEDRA is the herbal precursor of Ephedrine - a powerful stimulant.  Like Ephedrine, Ephedra is classed as an S4 drug.  Ephedrine in the form of Ephidrine Hydrochloride requires a prescription. 

            On its own but especially when combined with Caffeine and Aspirin, Ephedra will accelerate fat burning while retaining muscle mass.  An effective ratio is:


                   250mg Caffeine

                  25  mg  Ephedrine

                  300 mg Aspirin


PERSONAL ADVICE:  Consult your doctor.


FRAC   At first glance appears to be a miss-spelt acronym for CRAP, and at a second glance I think it is!

            Gamma Oryzanol/Ferulic Acid (FRAC) is derived from rice bran which is definitely a good source of  fibre, but will have absolutely no ergogenic effect.


PERSONAL ADVICE:  I think this one belongs in the toilet.  Cannot recommend.


GUARANA   From the Amazonian jungles comes this brown coloured powder which has been crushed from dried guarana seeds.  The active ingredient is caffeine (around 4%) which is a powerful central nervous system stimulant with many performance enhancing properties.


PERSONAL ADVICE:  If you’re after a natural source of caffeine, then Guarana is worth trying.  However, coffee and pure caffeine are both much more cost effective.


INOSINE   Used in the belief that it will increase energy and endurance.

            I think the only thing it will increase is the ache in your big toe if you suffer from gout.


PERSONAL ADVICE:  Use Creatine instead.


KIC   (Ketoisocaproate) is a metabolite of Leucine which then metabolizes to HMB.  Useful for recovery but not as effective as HMB.




LEUCINE   -  See Amino Acids





LUCERNE (Alfalfa)


            Lucerne or Alfalfa is a highly nitrogenous herb.

            LEUCINE is an Amino Acid.

            However, Lucerne contains high levels of the amino acid leucine along with HMB, every other amino acid, vitamins/minerals and antioxidants.

            Lucerne is a complete protein, high in fibre, low in fat and in concentrated form (30 x or greater) is an extremely valuable supplement for muscle growth.  This is largely due to its ability to supply the body with HMB.


PERSONAL ADVICE:  Despite the expense of  high quality herbal extracts, is definitely worth using and may even prove to be more effective than HMB alone.



            Fat source of fuel (from coconut oil) which acts more like a carbohydrate than a fat (fast

            Very popular a decade ago.  Excessive amounts cause diarrhoea.


PERSONAL ADVICE:  Experiment if you like but I wouldn’t recommend it for either fat loss or muscle growth or energy.


MINERALS   Go hand in hand with Vitamins.  If any are deficient, peak performance will be adversely effected.  Imbalances may also hinder performance.


PERSONAL ADVICE:  Take a high quality one a day Multi Mineral Supplement.


OCTACOSANOL   is a revival of wheat germ oil, advertised as the wonder fuel for athletes 30 years ago.  Octacosanol, a white alcohol, was theorized to be the active ingredient in wheat-germ oil. Advertisements suggested it would increase energy and stamina, presumably by increasing oxygen consumption and glycogen metabolism in the muscle.

            No research has been uncovered to support the contention that octacosanol will improve glycogen metabolism, oxygen consumption, or for that matter, any other physiological function that would improve physical performance.


PERSONAL ADVICE:  Save your money.



            This is a very new supplement, which I understand may soon be available through Ironman magazine, not to be mistaken with Phosphatidyl Choline, derived from Lecithin,

            Not a lot of information is available as yet to its effectiveness, but the theory of how it could work is sound.

            Phosphatidylserine is derived from soybean liquid extracts and has been shown to have an effect on the body’s production of cortisol - the catabolic hormone that cannabolizes muscles when excessive.

            The theory behind PS is that if you can limit the cortisol increases that are a by-product of heavy training, you may be able to prevent excess muscle tissue breakdown, thereby allowing greater muscle growth.

            In a double-blind, placebo-controlled study, (P Monteleone et al “BLUNTING BY CHRONIC PHOSPHATIDYLSERINE ADMINISTRATION OF THE STRESS-INDUCED ACTIVATION OF THE HYPOTHALAMO-PITUITARY-ADRENAL AXIS IN HEALTHY MEN” EUR J CLIN PHARMACOL, 41(1992):385-388), subjects took placebo or 800mg per day of PS for 10 days.  They were then exercised intensely to induce physical stress.

            Cortisol levels were measured.  In the placebo group, cortisol levels rose significantly after exercise.  The PS group showed a significant blunting of cortisol production.

            Researchers hypothesize that PS may counteract stress-induced activation of the pituitary-adrenal axis - a hormone feedback system.


PERSONAL ADVICE:  PS may be a valuable supplement, but no studies have yet been done to evaluate whether or not it will produce an increase in muscle mass and/or strength.

            Try it for a month.  If it seems to work, experiement with dosages and timing to evaluate its effectiveness.

            Try taking 800mg per day in two divided doses.  400mg in morning and 400mg before workouts or before going to bed on non-training days.  Experiment with and between meals.


ROYAL JELLY  is the exclusive food of queen bees.

            High in vitamins/minerals and trace amounts of just about everything, royal jelly certainly will do you no harm.

            Royal jelly has not been proven to have any effect on athletic performance.  However, it may be an anti-bacterial agent, and an anti-inflammatory to aid in the healing of wounds.  It may also strengthen the immune system and act as an anti-ageing compound.


PERSONAL ADVICE:  If you’re after short term improved athletic performance, save your money.


SMILAX   Funny name.  Makes you smile - but I bet not half as much as the manufacturers of this ‘useless for improving physical performance’ substance whose advertising tries to tell you otherwise.


PERSONAL ADVICE:  Steer clear of this one.


TAURINE   A conditionally essential amino acid.

            This is the second most abundant amino acid in the body (glutamine is the most) and may be produced from Methionine, Cysteine and B6.

            Taurine may act as an insulin mimicker and as such may enhance glucose and amino acid metabolism.

            Because of its cell volumizing effects it may enhance protein metabolism and research A Militello, et al, Effect of Taurine Administration on Amino Acid and 3-Methylhistidine Concentrations in Man (Vienna, Austria: 41st INTERNATIONAL CONGRESS ON AMINO ACIDS, 1995) reveals it may help decrease muscle breakdown.  The dose used was 500mg three times a day.


PERSONAL ADVICE:  Expect to find this amino being added to many new products.  Not proven but promising.



            This one’s a bit controversial.  One side saying it works, the other side saying it’s toxic and should be taken off the market.

            Vanadyl may mimick insulin and possible insulin-like effects.  Insulin is quite anabolic.

            Some studies have shown Vanadyl to be toxic to the liver.

            More research is required to find out exactly what Vanadyl does and doesn’t do.  Bodybuilders use it and claim that it gives them fuller, harder muscles and a better more vascular pump.


PERSONAL ADVICE:  Don’t overdo it until more research has been done on its toxicity.  The recommended dose of 30mg per day in divided doses is sufficient to see the effects.  This dosage does not so far appear to be toxic.  It should be taken with meals.


VITAMINS   Very important.  If you lack in any, performance may be adversely affected.


PERSONAL ADVICE:  As an insurance policy, take one high quality multi vitamin supplement per day, with a meal.

YOHIMBE   (YOHIMBINE HYDROCHLORIDE) is derived from the dried bark of Corynauthe Johimbe, a tree native to Gabon, the Southern Cameroons and the French Congo in Africa.  It is widely used as an aphrodisiac. Yohimbe does not contain any testosterone.  It is an alpha-2 adrenergic agonist (A2) which has been shown to actually decrease fat synthesis in the body (D Miller - Wieland, et al Horm Metab Res 26.4 (1994):169-172) as well as increase fatty acid mobilization from fat stores in women - especially around hips. (M Berlan, et al In J Obes 15.5 (1991):305-315).

            Metabolic slow-down and accumulated lower body fat in women can be blamed in part on an excess of A2 receptors.  By binding up the A2 receptors, the decrease in nora-drenaline production caused by extended dieting should be blocked.


PERSONAL ADVICE:  Looks promising.

            The common dosage of yohimbine HCL used in the medical profession is one 5.4mg tablet three times per day.

            Studies have shown that increased dosages may be less effective - so don’t take a “more-is-better” attitude.

            However, the yohimbe in herb form may require 1000mg yohimbe herb in the morning with food and 1000mg in the evening with dinner to provide an effective dose.


ZINC   forms part of numerous essential enzymes for hundreds of different functions in your body, from cell growth to testosterone production.  The body pool is small and has to be constantly replaced from the diet.  Inadequate zinc, even for one week, retards muscle growth and weakens immunity. (Hambidge KM, et al Zinc In: Mertz W ed. TRACE ELEMENTS IN HUMAN AND ANNUAL NUTRITION 5th EDITION VOL 2, New York: Academic Press, 1986:1-137).


PERSONAL ADVICE:  The best sources of zinc are meats, eggs and seafood.  Make sure you are consuming these foods regularly in your diet.


Sports drinks-optimal hydration

Major causes of fatigue and reduced performance during prolonged exercise is depletion of muscle glycogen and dehydration. Severe dehydration can be fatal…so there is a real need to ensure adequate fluid intake before, during, and after exercise.The rate of gastric emptying is influenced by the amount of carbohydrate in the drink solution, and what is optimal for substrate replenishment(glycogen recharge) will actually inhibit maximal  re-hydration. A solution of around 8% glucose with dilute sodium and other electrolytic mineral salts is a good balance for primarily  hydration, with energy replacement secondary.

The volume of fluid consumed after exercise should exceed the sweat loss (which can be established by the change in bodyweight), perhaps by about 50% ( Ron Maughan, PhD)