Athletic Advantage

Where Intensity Meets Intelligence

Strength and Conditioning, Nutrition and Sport Psychology Coaching

Alpha GPC and Max Capacity from Nova3 Labs

As a coach and an athlete, I am always looking for supplements to help increase performance. Performance in sport is most often determined by moments of extreme force production and power output. While much of this can be attributed to muscular strength, some adaptations to training can be neural in nature. A study by Pensini, Martin and Maffiuletti , demonstrated that increases in torque associated with 4 weeks of eccentric exercise were likely the result of central (or neural) adaptation.  This demonstrates that both central and peripheral adaptations are necessary to enhance performance in athletes. When we take a look at nutrition for athletes, it is therefore important to study interventions that have the potential to augment either potential site of adaptation.

One such supplement that has been proven to increase performance via central adaptation  is Alpha glycerylphosphorylcholine (Alpha-GPC). Studies have demonstrated some initial promise in changing explosive performance.  Recently, Bellar, LeBlanc and Campbell, performed a study giving athletes 6 days of supplementation with Alpha GPC, to see if it augmented  isometric force production compared to a placebo.

The results of the study proved that alpha GPC was effective at increasing lower body force production after only 6 days of supplementation. Given that in many sports, especially weightlifting, it is understood that a very small change in performance, (often times less than 2 %, can significantly affect outcomes), it is important to note that the 6 days of Alpha GPC resulted in greater than a 3 % increase in lower body isometric strength. Coaches working with speed and power athletes should consider adding Alpha GPC to the diet to potentially enhance muscle performance.

Nova 3 Labs has a product called Max Capacity, that contains Alpha GPC, that I use every single day before training. While there are too many compounding factors for me to determine whether or not my power output has been positively affected; anecdotally, my mental focus and energy are noticeably better. In addition to Alpha GPC, Max Capacity contains cordyceps, which is a fungi of the mushroom family, that has been shown to alter lactate threshold and mitochondrial ATP generation, as well as adaptogens which I wrote about in my previous post. Use my code SCHOLL10 at checkout. 

Maximize your hormone potential with Max Adrenal

Judging from the proliferation of coffee and cupcake shops popping up these days, clearly caffeine and sugar are what most people use to combat their fatigue. The problem is they don’t actually work. Although sugar and caffeine do offer a quick lift, it is temporary, and the drop is never too far behind – so it’s back to Starbucks to start the cycle again, turning your day into a rollercoaster ride of highs and lows. Eventually your adrenals can’t handle the constant pressure to produce more adrenaline, and they stop producing all together. At that point, consuming caffeine is like kicking a dead horse. Fortunately, there is a healthier and more effective way to get through the day – adaptogens.  These powerful herbs help your body adapt to stress and resist fatigue, and can help your adrenals function properly rather than damage them.

Adaptogens are a unique group of herbs used to improve the health of your adrenal system, the system that’s in charge of managing your body’s hormonal response to stress. They help mediate the stress response and enhance its ability to cope with anxiety and fight fatigue – slowly and gently, without spikes and dives. They are called adaptogens because of their unique ability to “adapt” their function according to your body’s specific needs. They are like a thermostat for your body… the effects may initially take time to accrue, but over time, they help your body reach a more optimal level of function.

Unlike big pharma drugs, adaptogens weren’t created yesterday. In fact, they’ve been used in Chinese and Indian Ayurvedic medicine for centuries, to boost energy and resilience in the face of stress. In addition, they enable the body’s cells to access more energy; help cells eliminate toxic byproducts of the metabolic process and help the body to utilize oxygen more efficiently. Adrenal health also effects thyroid health, which is the main engine behind your metabolism. If you want your body to burn fat efficiently, take care of your adrenals. One of the first signs of adrenal fatigue, along with constant exhaustion is the inability to lose bodyfat. This is the reason why I have all of my clients on Max Adrenal. I want them to get the most out of my training and nutrition program.

I recommend 3 Max Adrenals from Nova 3 labs for everyone, especially athletes. Use my code Sarah10 at Nova 3 and send me a note when you start to feel better. 

Vitamin D3..whats the deal?

Vitamin D3 is THE most important vitamin for our health..EVER. 

I hope my title was compelling enough for you to make the decision to take the time to read my entire article. I have deliberately chosen every word, and just like my workouts, there is nothing extraneous. If you still aren’t intrigued, Vitamin D3 can be the KEY to weight loss…I know that will get your attention!

Most of my clients are semi-aware of ‘health’ issues because they make a moderate effort to read, hear things in passing, and talk to friends. They know that getting their D3 levels tested is important, but probably do not know why. By going to a regular medical practitioner (notice I do not use the word doctor, because going to medical school does not qualify anyone in my opinion), they learn that their levels of ‘D’ are either adequate or deficient according to the ‘norm.’ The problem is that the ‘norm’ is the average D3 levels of the obese, unhealthy population. The norm that they use as a benchmark is 25 mg/ml. The norm that should be used as a benchmark is 80-100 ng/ml!! Studies show, 99% of the population above the Mason Dixon line are deficient in D3. Even if your practitioner says that your levels are fine, they are NOT. 

The scientific literature is overwhelmed with data that confirm what all these experts have seen. The bottom line is that virtually every disease and adverse health condition is associated with low vitamin D3 levels. Consequently, many of these problems may be fixed with adequate vitamin D3 supplementation, or can be avoided by keeping vitamin D3 levels in the high normal range.

For a long time vitamin D3 was simply regarded as the anti-rickets and bone health vitamin – an underwhelming bit of evidence. Because it was originally labeled as a vitamin, it was assumed that it was something that only needed to be taken by those who don’t “eat well.” Most clients tell me, “I drink milk, I don’t need calcium of Vitamin D3.” The details of this will be saved for another article, but the bottom line is, that is ignorant. Dairy makes your body acidic, and in an acidic environment, calcium and minerals are leached from your body in a struggle to make your body alkaline again. Even if you ate perfectly, flooding your system with dark leafy greens and basking in the sun for hours a day, chances are you STILL need to supplement with D3. It is no longer considered to be a vitamin. Now it is more properly recognized as a prohormone that is essential to life. Even if it were only good for bone health, vitamin D3 still would be an important supplement, but the benefits go way beyond just bone health.

Charles Poliquin has compiled a comprehensive list of peer reviewed research on the importance of vitamin D3. If you do not have time to actually read the research (I understand), just look at the titles of the studies and you will get the idea. 

  1. Rickets, bone density, osteoporosis, osteopenia, osteomalacia: Low levels of vitamin D contribute to osteopenia and fractures. JAMA. 2002;287:3127-3129.
  2. Fetal brain development and maternal health: Med Hypotheses. 2010 Jan;74(1):71-5. Epub 2009 Aug 18.
  3. Psoriasis: “Hyperproliferative skin disorders such as psoriasis might be responsive to treatment with vitamin D….” “[Treatment with vitamin D] …showed great improvement in reducing the severity and area of psoriatic lesions.” Holick, MF. High prevalence of vitamin D inadequacy and implications for health. Mayo Clinic Proceedings. 2006 Mar;81(3):353-73. 
  4. Cancer: “Both prospective and retrospective epidemiologic studies indicate that levels of 25-OH D below 20 ng [nanograms] per milliliter are associated with a 30 to 50% increased risk of incident colon, prostate, and breast cancer, along with higher mortality from these cancers….” “Vitamin D either directly or indirectly controls more than 200 genes, including genes responsible for the regulation of cellular proliferation, differentiation, apoptosis, and angiogenesis.” Holick MF. Vitamin D deficiency. N Engl J Med. 2007;357(3):266-81.
  5. Blood sugar regulation and insulin resistance: “Vitamin D deficiency increased insulin resistance, decreased insulin production, and was associated with the metabolic syndrome.” Holick MF. Vitamin D deficiency. N Engl J Med. 2007;357(3):266-81.
  6. Depression and other neurological concerns: “Several studies suggest an association between hypovitaminosis D and basic and executive cognitive functions, depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia.” Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2009 Feb;11(1):12-9.
  7. Multiple Sclerosis: “High circulating levels of vitamin D are associated with a lower risk of multiple sclerosis.” JAMA. 2006;296:2832.
  8. Immune function: “When serum levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D fall below 20 ng per milliliter, the monocyte or macrophage is prevented from initiating this innate immune response” Holick MF. Vitamin D deficiency. N Engl J Med. 2007;357(3):266-81.
  9. Cold, flu, and respiratory tract infection: shortened duration of symptoms in study of African women.
  10. Symptoms associated with autoimmune conditions: Vitamin D deficiency affects the immune system’s capacity to self-regulate and can therefore lead to tissue damage via overproduction of potentially pathogenic cytokines.
  11. Hypertension and congestive heart failure: “In a study of patients with hypertension who were exposed to ultraviolet B radiation three times a week for 3 months, 25-OH D levels increased by approximately 180% and blood pressure became normal.” “Vitamin D deficiency is associated with congestive heart failure.” Holick MF. Vitamin D deficiency. N Engl J Med. 2007;357(3):266-81.
  12. Muscle mass and strength: “Vitamin D deficiency causes muscle weakness.” “Performance speed and proximal muscle strength were markedly improved when 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels increase from 4 to 16 ng per milliliter (10 to 40 nmol [nanomole] per liter) and continued to improve as the levels increase to more than 40ng per milliliter (100 nmol per liter). Holick MF. Vitamin D deficiency. N Engl J Med. 2007;357(3):266-81.
  13. 1Weight Loss: “For every increase of 1 ng/mL in level of 25-OH D3, subjects ended up losing almost 0.2 kg more on their calorie-restricted diet.” Shalamar Sibley, prepublication report for the Endocrine Society’s 91st Annual Meeting. 
  14. And even longevity, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, thyroid conditions…

…and this just scratches the surface of the research! 

Taking a regular D3 supplement in small doses will not restore your deficiency. Poliquin recommends flooding your system for 3 weeks and then taking a maintenance dose, assuming that your levels are adequate at that point. For more information on this protocol, please come see me. I take Poliquin’s D3 Excellence and can order it for you.