Written by Jose Antonio, Ph.D.
13 September 2011


Jose Antonio, Ph.D.

Bodybuilding Supplements Are Another Excellent Training Tool!

Training Tools

One of the common criticisms against dietary supplement use for sports is that it may confer an advantage over the competition. Well, oh geez; isn’t that the point? To get a competitive advantage? Organizations like the NCAA and IOC try to “legislate” this idea of promoting a “level playing field” when in fact athletes are ALWAYS seeking advantages over their competitors. Whether it is getting the best coaches, trainers, strength coaches, sports nutritionists, etc.— the goal is to win! Not wallow in mediocrity with all the middle-of-pack losers. Sports supplements are just one of many tools athletes should use to optimize their performance. My column will always give you the latest, the best, and the most practical advice on today's top bodybuilding supplements.

CHO Plus Protein Hydrolysate

Protein hydrolysates is made from whole protein (e.g., whey, casein) and basically consist of smaller peptides (di-, tri-peptides, etc.) and amino acids after hydrolysis of the whole protein. Hydrolysate forms seem to work quite well and perhaps better than whole proteins. This study examined the effect of carbohydrate and protein hydrolysate ingestion on whole-body and muscle protein synthesis during a combined endurance and resistance exercise session and subsequent overnight recovery.

Interested in how to stimulate muscle growth? Consider the following: Twenty healthy men were studied in the evening after consuming a standardized diet throughout the day. Subjects participated in a 2-hour exercise session, during which beverages containing both carbohydrate (0.15g per kg bodyweight per hour) and a protein hydrolysate (same dose as carbs) (C+P) or water only were ingested. If you’re doing the math, that’s about 13.6 grams of carbs and 13.6 grams of protein hydrolysate for a 200-pound individual consumed each hour. Participants then consumed two additional beverages during early recovery and remained overnight at the hospital for observation and testing. During exercise, whole-body and muscle protein synthesis rates increased by 29 percent and 48 percent, with protein and carbohydrate co-ingestion. During subsequent overnight recovery, whole-body protein synthesis was 19 percent greater in the C+P group than in the W group. However, mean muscle protein synthesis rates during 9 hours of overnight recovery did not differ between groups.

We conclude that even in a fed state, protein and carbohydrate supplementation stimulates muscle protein synthesis during exercise. Ingestion of protein with carbohydrate during and immediately after exercise improves whole-body protein synthesis, but does not further augment muscle protein synthesis rates during 9 hours of subsequent overnight recovery.1

There are some important lessons here. For one, consuming carbs plus a protein hydrolysate has anabolic effects, even in the fed state. Secondly, a 50/50 ratio of carbs-to-protein seems to work quite well. But thirdly, the anabolic effect does NOT persist for 9 hours. Perhaps a slower protein might have done the trick if it were the last protein meal of the day…

Carbs Alone Won’t Cut It!

Another study investigated the effect of protein co-ingestion with carbohydrate on muscle protein synthesis during weight training. Ten healthy males participated in two experiments in which they ingested either carbohydrate or carbohydrate with protein during a 2-hour resistance exercise session. Subjects received a bolus of test drink before and every 15 minutes during exercise, providing ~13.5g carbohydrate (for a 200-pound person) alone or with protein (same dose). Protein co-ingestion lowered whole-body protein breakdown rates by 8.4 percent compared with the ingestion of carbohydrate alone, and augmented protein oxidation and synthesis rates by 77 percent and 33 percent, respectively. Thus, even in a fed state, protein co-ingestion stimulates whole body and muscle protein synthesis rates during resistance-type exercise.2 And consuming just carbs alone won’t cut it!

Lessen Muscle Damage

Heavy weight training, especially if you emphasize the eccentric or negative contraction, leads to exercise-induced muscle damage (EIMD); this in turn leads to the degradation of protein structures within the muscle. This may subsequently lead to decrements in muscle performance and increases in intramuscular enzymes and delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS). But if you can recover quicker, then you’ll get back to the gym feeling better and ready to pack on slabs of meat after performaning a ball-busting workout! Milk, which provides protein and carbohydrate (CHO), may lead to a drop in protein breakdown and (or) an increase in protein synthesis that would limit the consequential effects of EIMD.

In this study, four independent groups of six healthy males consumed water (CON), CHO sports drink, milk-based CHO-P or milk (M), post EIMD. What did they find? Peak torque (dominant) was significantly higher 48 hours after CHO-P, compared with CHO and CON, and M compared with CHO. Total work of the set (dominant) was significantly higher 48 hours after CHO-P and M, compared with CHO and CON. CK, an indicator of muscle damage, was significantly lower 48 hours after CHO-P and M compared with CHO. Thus, two days post-exercise, milk and milk-based protein-CHO supplementation resulted in less muscle damage and better recovery of muscle function.3  The next step is to see if certain proteins do this job better than others.

Prunus Mume

Yeah, I can’t pronounce it either. It sounds an awful lot like prunes. Needless to say, this stuff is interesting. Prunus mume is also known as Chinese plum or Japanese apricot. In this study, scientists looked at the effects of Prunus mume extract on exercise-induced fatigue recovery in a trained rat model. Male rats were raised either on a control diet (EC) or on diets supplemented with 0.15 percent (0.15EP), 0.3 percent (0.3EP), or 0.9 percent (0.9EP) Prunus mume extract for four weeks. They then did some exercise testing of these little rodents. Compared to that in EC (control) rats, serum lactate levels were significantly lower in rats fed 0.15 percent or higher levels of Prunus mume extract. Dietary supplementation with the Prunus mume extract significantly elevated hepatic and muscle glycogen concentrations of the rats after the exercise. Prunus mume extract significantly reduced lactate dehydrogenase activity and increased citrate synthase activity in the skeletal muscles of the rats immediately after the exercise loading.

What does all this metabolic mishmash mean? Well, taken together, these results indicate that the Prunus mume extract administered during endurance exercise training may enhance the oxidative capacity of skeletal muscle and may help promote the use of fat as a fuel during exercise.4 So, there you have it: Chinese plum helps you burn fat. The extract does, anyhow.

Artichoke Leaf Extract And Coccinia Indica And Position Stand By ISSN

What happens when you give artichoke leaf extract to competitive rowers? This study involved 22 members of the Polish rowing team, who were randomly assigned to a supplemented group receiving one gelatin capsule containing 400mg of artichoke leaf extract three times a day for five weeks, or a placebo group. At the beginning and end of the study, participants performed a 2,000-meter maximal test on a rowing ergometer. They also measured the antioxidant ability of artichoke leaf extract. They discovered that consuming artichoke leaf extract, a natural vegetable preparation of high antioxidant potential, resulted in higher plasma TAC (total antioxidant capacity) than placebo in competitive rowers subjected to strenuous training.5

Another plant, Coccinia indica (synonym Coccinia cordifolia), is an herb found in India and has been used in traditional treatment of diabetes. However, carefully controlled studies of its efficacy are lacking. Recently, it was found that that Coccinia cordifolia extract has a potential hypoglycemic action in patients with mild diabetes.6 What might occur if you combine Coccinia with carbs and amino acids? Would it possibly enhance the uptake of these nutrients?

And in late-breaking news, the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN) has released the latest scientific position stand on nutrient timing. Suffice it to say that nutrient timing is probably the single nutrition strategy that pretty much EVERY athlete should implement. To not implement nutrient timing would be sheer folly! Basically, some of the highlights of the position stand include: 1) Ingesting CHO alone or in combination with PRO during resistance exercise increases muscle glycogen, offsets muscle damage and facilitates greater training adaptations after either acute or prolonged periods of supplementation with resistance training. 2) The post-exercise ingestion (immediately to 3 hours post) of amino acids, primarily essential amino acids, has been shown to stimulate robust increases in muscle protein synthesis, while the addition of CHO may stimulate even greater levels of protein synthesis. Additionally, pre-exercise consumption of a CHO + PRO supplement may result in peak levels of protein synthesis. 3) During consistent, prolonged resistance training, post-exercise consumption of varying doses of CHO + PRO supplements in varying dosages have been shown to stimulate improvements in strength and body composition when compared to control or placebo conditions. And 4) the addition of creatine (Cr) (0.1 g Cr/kg/day) to a CHO + PRO supplement may facilitate even greater adaptations to resistance training.

Jose Antonio, PhD, is vice president of the National Strength and Conditioning Association. He has a PhD in muscle physiology and is chief executive of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.


1.            Beelen M, Tieland M, Gijsen AP, et al. Coingestion of carbohydrate and protein hydrolysate stimulates muscle protein synthesis during exercise in young men, with no further increase during subsequent overnight recovery. J Nutr, Nov 2008;138(11):2198-2204.

2.            Beelen M, Koopman R, Gijsen AP, et al. Protein coingestion stimulates muscle protein synthesis during resistance-type exercise. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab, Jul 2008;295(1):E70-77.

3.            Cockburn E, Hayes PR, French DN, Stevenson E, St Clair Gibson A. Acute milk-based protein-CHO supplementation attenuates exercise-induced muscle damage. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab, Aug 2008;33(4):775-783.

4.            Kim S, Park SH, Lee HN, Park T. Prunus mume extract ameliorates exercise-induced fatigue in trained rats. J Med Food, Sep 2008;11(3):460-468.

5.            Skarpanska-Stejnborn A, Pilaczynska-Szczesniak L, Basta P, Deskur-Smielcka E, Horoszkiewicz-Hassan M. The influence of supplementation with artichoke (Cynara scolymus L.) extract on selected redox parameters in rowers. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab, Jun 2008;18(3):313-327.

6.            Kuriyan R, Rajendran R, Bantwal G, Kurpad AV. Effect of supplementation of Coccinia cordifolia extract on newly detected diabetic patients. Diabetes Care, Feb 2008;31(2):216-220.

7.            Kerksick C, Harvey T, Stout J, et al. International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: Nutrient timing. J Int Soc Sports Nutr, 2008;5:17.

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