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MuscleTech Product Supplement Review
By Wesley James
In recent months, Mauro Di Pasquale and, more recently, Greg Zulak, both associates of Muscle Mag International, have been writing about a Canadian company called "MuscleTech". Both seem impressed by the efforts this company has made in developing "cost-no-object" formulae for Anabolic, Anti-Catabolic and Lipolytic effect. According to the two writers, none of their formulae have reached the market anywhere in the world due to the intersession of the Canadian government This is a less than credible claim but so what. The idea of "stacking" nutrients whether to additive or synergistic ends is viable, laudable and well supported based on biochemical and pharmacological precedent. So, based on what we can deduce from their comments and a broader look at the subject of nutritional supplementation designed to benefit the physique trainer, we have created some practical formulae targeting these and other related ends. Over the next few issues, as we are able to develop confirmation of the efficacy and dosage timing of these blends, we will share them with you. I will merely mention at this point that the five formulae under exploration are called "Acetyl Glutarone XP, Cre-AM XP, Citrip A XP, Insulean 2 XP and Lipotisol XP." The "XP" designation affixed to the end of each formula name is an indication of the fact that the formula is eXPerimental.
The most interesting of MuscleTech's formulas is called "Acetabolin". Unfortunately, very little can be deduced about the dosages used in the formula though the ingredients, or at least some of them, are known. They are listed below:
- Acetyl-L-Carnitine (ALC)
While Greg Zulak maintains that Acetyl-L-Carnitine (ALC) is not available in North America, he appears to be wrong. Having obtained what purports to be 250 mg tablets, I may have a source. The dosage level is an educated guess. We are currently using 1 Gram. It should be understood that we have seen no compelling research to indicate that Acetyl L-Carnitine influences Testosterone levels one way or other. The only beneficial effect from its use we have seen reported is as an "enhancer" of mental acutiy. The amount of the second ingredient, L-Glutamine, is roughly deducible. What is required is enough Glutamine to get 2 grams through the digestive system. Considering the amount, roughly 20 grams a day, absorbed and consumed by the stomach and intestines (mucosal layer) a lot more than 2 grams is surely required if standard oral administration is contemplated. Alternately, a means of getting the Glutamine into the blood stream without losing it to the gut may be pursued. A company named "AST Research" has announced a product called GL3 which is represented to be a sub-lingual powder. We have not found the product in general distribution and have not used it but it is an interesting idea that might work. Sub-lingual administration of nutrients is a very "iffy" thing. Some are absorbed well while others become mixed with saliva and are eventually swallowed before any appreciable amount reaches the blood stream through the buccal cavity.
A more promising approach with a proven track record is a substrate called "Alanyl-Glutamine". This di-peptide bound protein combines Alanine and Glutamine. The combined form got past the intestines when it was used clinically. There remains a question of whether this form triggers GH release and if so at what dosage. There is no FDA restriction on sale of Alanyl-Glutamine but I know of no consumer-oriented distributor of the product. This could change quickly if there is a demand as pharmaceutical grade product is available commercially.
Beyond this there are some unresolved questions. Zulak seems to suggest that using 2 grams of Glutamine as part of a protein supplement is unproductive, if not counter-productive, precluding GH release. He cites no research to support this assertion though he is not alone in making it. At the same time, MuscleTech combines BCAAs with Glutamine (Zulak notes a higher concentration of Leucine) and OKG along with Acetyl-L-Carnitine. If this combination is effective, what is it that is problematic about Glutamine and a protein supplement? Our research will endeavor to answer this question.
There are a couple of ingredients that are not listed but which might improve the efficacy of the Acetabolin mix. They should include Vitamin C because it is essential to both GH and Testosterone production and because it is itself anti-catabolic; Boron because of its role in Testosterone production (Boron alone does not raise Testosterone levels except perhaps in post-menopausal women); and Zinc (possibly in picolinate form) for the same reason.
In terms of dosages, Dr Michael Colgan advises 2-4 grams of OKG for its GH release role and as an ammonia scavenger, to off-set the ammonia produced by Glutamine metabolization. A fair body of research suggests that oral OKG dosages of less than 10 grams do not cause a GH release and that 10 Gram loads are likely to produce diarrhea. For this reason, OKG is used in this formula as an ammonia scavenger but not as a GH releaser.
The BCAAs in the Acetabolin formula are probably included for their ability to spare muscle BCAAs and Testosterone post-exercise. According to Colgan, the desirable levels of BCAA supplementation are high. He states that the daily requirement for athletes is 4.8 G Leucine, 4 G Valine and 1.6 G Isoleucine. Since other proteins are usually used in conjunction with these in protein supplements, the levels required as part of the Acetabolin formula is harder to calculate. Nevertheless, one ounce of a typical Whey Protein supplement would contain 2.7 G Leucine, 1.4 G Valine and 1.5 G Isoleucine. Thus three ounces of Whey protein would take care of these BCAA levels were it not for the Zulak assertion that using Glutamine precludes GH release. You can, therefore, see why his assertion must be examined.
If Zulak's assertion that using Acetabolin with a protein supplement is unadviseable predicated on the formula being used to promote GH release, then there are other problems with the formula as well. These relate to contention of the included substrates to cross the blood-brain barrier, Insulin triggering and timing factors. If GH release via Acetyl-Choline trigger or insulin trigger (reactive hypoglycemia ) are intended this formula will fail. The only way Zulak's assertion can be true for this formula is if the presence of other proteins block Acetyl L-Carnitine from performing its intended function, presumably raising Testosterone levels and/or blocking Cortisol. A number of factors suggest the use of the Acetabolin combination before work-outs. Whether it is needed at other times is more conjectural. It might work as a pre-sleep formula as well.
It is fairly clear that MuscleTech's Acetabolin Formulation is designed to perform two primary functions. The first is raising plasma Testosterone levels. This should not be confused, as so many do, with raising overall Testosterone production. I am unaware of any evidence that suggests ALC or any other supplement (excluding drugs) can increase 24-hour Testosterone production. Other than the infusion (either oral, injected or transdermal) of pharmaceutical Testosterone, no natural substance has been demonstrated to do this. (Hold the presses, DHEA may.) The second goal is raising serum GH levels. It would seem to have two secondary roles as well. The more general role is sparing BCAA levels in the muscle. The more specific, cleaning up the ammonia produced by the use of L-Glutamine. This helps to maintain system Nitrogen levels. Each ammonia molecule (NH3) pulls a nitrogen atom out of the system making it difficult to maintain the positive nitrogen balance essential to muscle growth.
If Acetabolin is to be used pre-workout it can be enhanced by adding Vitamin B-6 (Pyridoxine) in one large dose of 600 mg. Used this way it enhances the exercised induced GH release that occurs in individuals under thirty years of age. It is unwise, however, to use doses this high on a daily basis. High daily doses (2-5 grams) have caused a peripheral neuropathy in some users (Hathcock, 1985). There remains the chance that peak levels of exercise can trigger GH release in trainees of any age. The anecdotally described "feeling of nausea" that occurs during heavy training is taken to be a signal of a significant GH surge. If this is true, then older trainees can still obtain this result. Since the mechanism for GH release remains intact into well advanced ages, it can not be ruled out in spite of definitive research confirming the cessation of such hormone activity (the Baltimore Longitudinal Study on Aging, 1980).
In any event, other GH releasers, working through other mechanisms can be applied. Before we discuss them, we're going to take a short side trip. We will explore at considerable length the effects of what we will refer to as the "GH effect" but first we need to understand what GH is. GH is actually not one substance, but a number of them. For our purposes, we will look primarily at two: Somatotropin (STH) and what we will refer to as "GHRH" or Growth Hormone Releasing Hormone. Raising serum levels of either of these ultimately leads to increased myogenic and lipolytic activity, both desirable. Neither of these substrates do what the injection of hGH (Human Growth Hormone) does: add GH to the system at extreme levels, unaccompanied by other supporting nutrients. On the other hand, stimulated GH release, which is what we strive for, will not produce the serious risk of Acromegaly and its attendant bone malformations. It is, therefore, reasonably safe to theorize that there may be as many as three different responses that can be produced by GH. Anecdotal evidence suggests that GH is always lipolytic, sometimes myogenic and, at worst, osteogenic (bone forming). The evidence suggests that this is not purely level dependent. Some other mechanism is at work. We postulate that the presence or absence of GHRH and perhaps other co-factors may dictate the pathway stimulated and the resultant effect. Until more is known about these pathways, we can endorse efforts to increase GH release as a means of reducing bodyfat levels. We can not state that GH releasers can be used to increase muscle size or strength. We must also warn against use of injected hGH in pre-andropausal males. The risk of bone malformation, particularly of the jaw and larynx, is greater via this pathway. We suspect that the release of STH with GHRH triggers a different pathway from direct injection of STH (hGH).Copyright © 1996 Physique Tools and Wesley James
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