Expert Advice: Muscle-Building Supplements

Our expert weighs in on how to get the most out of your supplements
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Q: I read that cyclic ketogenic diets are effective at dropping bodyfat and preserving hard-earned muscle mass. Is CKD relatively safe? How can I get into the ketogenic state quickly? Will vegetables and almonds and peanut butter consumption upset the ketogenic state? I also read that protein has a 58 percent conversion rate to glucose. Does that mean that I must be strict with my protein consumption?

A: Yes, going ketogenic is very safe. But you don’t need to
 be so strict that you eat no carbs 
and worry about nuts and vegetables. Also, do not restrict your protein (in fact, increase it) if you do not want to lose muscle. Just keep your carbs very low by eating only animal protein and a serving of vegetables at every meal. Nuts and peanut butter are fine, too, in moderation. Keep reps high (12 to 20) and rest low (30 seconds) between sets to burn up the most muscle glycogen. Also, add HIIT cardio to your regimen.

Q: Is it OK to add a scoop of protein to nitric oxide before my workout?

A: Keep your NO product separate from your protein powder by 30 to 60 minutes. The arginine in most NO boosters is poorly absorbed by the intestines when other amino acids are around — you won’t absorb adequate amounts to raise NO levels. If you must combine the two for convenience, look for NO boosters that use citrulline or GPLC instead of arginine, as absorption of these ingredients won’t be compromised when you take protein with them.

Q: If I’m taking creatine, do I need to do the loading phase first? What is a typical loading phase?

A: You only need a loading phase if you want to see immediate results. A good loading phase should last five to seven days. Take 5 g of creatine four or five times per day. Definitely take creatine with protein and carbs, and on workout days make one 
of those doses with your preworkout shake and carbs, and another one immediately postworkout with your shake and carbs. If you don’t want to bother with the loading phase and still want to see immediate results, use a creatine that does not require a loading phase, such as Con-Cret or Kre-Alkalyn.

Q: When reading labels, how do I know if the carbs in the item are fast- or slow-digesting? When the label says it has 16 g of fat per serving but then says it has only 4g of saturated fats and 0 g of trans fats, does that automatically mean the rest are poly- and monounsaturated fats?

A: The packaging of a food that is a slow-digesting carb should name one of these ingredients first on the list: whole grain, whole
wheat, whole (other grain), stone-ground whole
(grain), brown rice, oats, oatmeal or wheatberries.
 Also, the Whole Grains Council has developed the Whole Grain Stamp, which appears on products that contain 
at least half a serving (8 g) of whole grains per serving. Products with a full serving (16 g) of whole grains get the “100 percent Whole Grain” banner, to boot. Regarding fats, yes, the remainder would be poly- and monounsaturated.

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