Power Nutrition Q&A
Where the Hell have you Been?
Q: Hey how’s it going? Man, where the hell have you been? I was an avid reader of your articles in Powerlifting USA magazine for well over a decade and once it went under I no longer saw much of your content around. Were you still writing or did you take a break from the scene? I really liked your articles every month as you always provided some very interesting angles on sports performance and health-related to powerlifters. I missed all the awesome info you used to give out. I am so happy to have found your website. I was actually looking for an old article of yours about contest day meal planning and then this came up on my Google search. Please don’t disappear again as I really look forward to reading your articles.
Yours truly, Big Mike Jon
A: Hey Mike it’s awesome to hear from you. Thank you for all the kind words man, it really is nice to hear them. When Powerlifting USA ceased publishing I did lose some touch with the Powerlifting world. I still consulted with many of my world champions for their nutritional programming, but on a large scale, there really wasn’t a solid Powerlifting media source out there. I did write a few articles for the print and online version of Powerlifter Today magazine but unfortunately, it didn’t last too long. It’s honestly a real shame that in 2020 powerlifters as a group cannot even keep one single magazine in business. I know a lot of people like the quickness of the internet and also because it’s free but in my opinion, there is nothing like having a nice hard copy print magazine in my hand. Maybe I am old fashioned but I like that much better than online. Yet here I am going online. I think another reason why I like the old ways better is that to get published in any credible print magazine for any genre you had to know your shit and be a reputable source of knowledge in that particular field. With the internet, every Tom Dick and Harry proclaims that they are some type of expert, but in reality are a bunch of clowns. I never have seen time in the history of the strengths sports
being powerlifting, bodybuilding, etc with more idiots voicing their opinions and even worse other idiots taking it as gospel. It truly is a messed up time and that is one of the reasons why I wanted to get back online in full force as a reputable source of information. I actually didn’t disappear after PL USA went under but I branched out to other magazines in a wide variety of sports and niche areas. I also focused more on contest prep for my nutrition consulting business and now have several IFBB Pro athletes under my wing as well. In fact, one of my clients I took from her very first competition all the way to winning her IFBB Pro Card in just 2 years time. The woman that placed second to her had been to Nationals 14 years in a row and my girl beat her out her very first time on stage at the Pro Qualifier.
But no worries you will not lose me again as this will be my main base of operations now for my content. I will still write for the many different print magazines I consult with but this website will be an uncensored platform with the latest cutting edge information. If you liked my work in PL USA then you are going to love what’s in store here.
The Last Issue of Powerlifting USA
Favorite Intra Workout Carb Source
Q: Hi, I have a question in regards to Intra Workout Carb sources. I remember about 15 years ago you mentioned that you really liked a product called Cytomax. You mentioned you gave it to your athletes during their training session and at competitions. Do you still use this? Are there any newer products that you like better? Are there certain sources that are better for say bodybuilders and powerlifters and then other endurance-type athletes? Sorry for all the questions but I thought I would email you and find out what your thoughts were. Thank you in advance.
A: Hi Sherry it’s great to hear from you. Wow, you have a stellar memory. You
remembered that article I did that many years ago? I have to give you credit as that’s pretty amazing. Now a lot of things have changed over the years and with time comes new innovations in science. While some of the basic supplements like creatine monohydrate still hold a powerhouse status even decades later, many others have fallen the wayside. During the last decade, we have seen several new carb sources come onto the scene with each proclaiming to be the newest and greatest. I have a couple of new ones that I like to use with my athletes and I have found some amazing results with them allowing different applications for each. Now since this is a complex topic and to site the scientific findings on all the different carb sources that can be used Intra workout it would take a full article. So what I am going to do is touch on some of my favorites and why I like them then, later on, do a more in-depth review of them.
Now Cytomax has been around for over 30 years at least. I remember drinking it as a teenager and all I can say is that was a very long time ago. Even with all the advancements that have come during this time I still really like this product. Before you can say that maybe I am getting some kind of kickback for the product or sponsored by them the answer is no. I have never got a single tub of the product from them during all my years for free using them so this way you can at least get a decent review without thinking that I have an ulterior motive. So let me give you points on what I like about Cytomax.
- Contains a balanced electrolyte formula making it ideal for summer training or preventing cramping for endurance events
- Loaded with an Amino Acid Peptide blend to help with training recovery
- Contains 22 grams of Carbs and 90 Calories per serving
- Provides sustained energy release without the dreaded crash
- Is very light on the stomach leaving blood in working muscles, not in the gut
- It buffers lactate to reduce muscle-burning
- This is ideal for endurance athletes or bodybuilders who are doing programs containing Giant Sets
- Replenishes muscle glycogen making it excellent for multiple event contests
- Designed to improve the body’s ability to deliver oxygen to muscles
- Contains Herbal Adaptogens for increased stamina
- Tastes amazing and comes in several flavors
What I have found personally as well as with my athletes is that this is one of the best endurance drinks on the market. In the past, I have recommended it for powerlifters and strongmen to use on competition day to help get through and replenish fuel during the entire day event. Unlike a lot of other Intra workout carb sources that leave your tummy not feeling so good, Cytomax shines in this area. If you ask any bodybuilder or endurance athlete, you will find many complain of the upset gut issue. This can be due to the fact that some sugar sources pull too much blood into the intestines to digest. Cytomax is easy on the gut and this is important not only during training but also during a competition where you have several events to perform at your best. One thing I like about Cytomax is that they constantly tweak and update the formula in the light of new scientific evidence. This is a good thing as they are not stuck in the ’90s and want to stay cutting edge.
Cytomax has been a Favorite of mine since the 90’s
This is another one of my top choices for Intra workout carb sources. Vitargo is one of the most studied carbs sources out there backed by numerous peer-reviewed published university studies. One of the main benefits of Vitargo is the high molecular weight or molecular size. It is vastly bigger in size than maltodextrin or sugars. Vitargo is between 500,000 to 700,000 g/mol where Maltodextrin is between 1,000 and 10,000g/mol. As you can see that is a huge difference in size. You are probably wondering so what the hell does that even mean to the layman?
Its large size minimizes osmolality which refers to how much water it attracts and then later pulls into the intestine. This means less water being pulled in means less bloating on the gut. The other plus with having low osmolality is that it passes through the intestine almost two and a half times faster than other sources of carbs. This allows it to get to working muscles much faster to keep you going but without the blood sugar crash that high glycemic sugars are known for. It also replenishes muscle glycogen 77% faster than other sources helping you to recover between workouts much better.
Nothing like a Cold Glass of Tijuana Tap Water to Clean You Out
I can attest to its benefits in a real-world situation which I will explain. It was the day of the National Bodybuilding championships and I awoke from a phone call from one of my athletes at 4:30 AM. I needed to get up early but not that early so I knew something must be wrong. My client complained of food poisoning and was having bouts of vomiting and diarrhea like they drank a gallon of Tijuana tap water. This is not a good thing at any time but on the day of Nationals can be a major issue. A whole year of prepping for this show can be shit down the drain literally in a few hours. This was not what I was hoping for because I knew this athlete could dominate the class and win an IFBB Pro card. I got to the venue early so I could spend time with my team of athletes competing but most importantly to see what I can do to help this specific athlete dealing with the food poisoning. We got there and the vomiting stopped but things were not looking
good. We went to the back to do some posing and it was a disaster. The muscles didn’t pop and were flat as pancakes. This really is the last thing a coach wants to see especially on the morning of the biggest show of the year. The fact that her body took all the meals that I prescribed the day before and was excreted through every orifice meant that her glycogen stores were non-existent and her electrolytes were depleted as well. On top of this, eating any food was not happening as well because she felt nauseated and nothing would sit in her stomach.
Not the plan that I had going into the show but I had to think quick otherwise this day would turn out to be a mess. She couldn’t eat, and I couldn’t load her up with fluids because I risked her spilling over. This is where Vitargo came in and saved the day. I made several servings of Vitargo into a pudding-like paste with very small amounts of water. I made her eat a double serving and waited an hour. Then we checked her again and she started to fill out. Took in another double serving and waited. Checked her in another hour and bam! She was filling out just like we planned. By the time she got on stage, she was looking amazing. She went up there and dominated the show like nothing went wrong. In the end, she took two first places and won her Pro Card. What could have been a disaster beyond repair, Vitargo saved the day. Her winning would not have been possible without it. I was a big fan of Vitargo before this day but afterward, I became an even bigger one. Vitargo was a lifesaver on a day when even the smallest mistake can ruin everything.
Vitargo Saved the Day from Total Disaster!
One of my IFBB Pro Athletes Yolanda Molina
Highly Branch Cyclic Dextrin
Also known as Cluster Dextrin, HBCD is one of the new superstars in this niche. It has found a cult following among bodybuilders more than any other sport but does have benefits that other athletes can take advantage of. One thing I like about HBCD it provides a sustained energy release making it beneficial during a training session. One issue with other fast-acting sugar sources is that it can jack up blood sugar and Insulin levels fast and hard then crash just as hard an hour later. If you are doing a longer workout this is the last thing you want to happen in the middle of your session where your performance just bottoms out unexpectedly. HBCD provides a steady glucose release thus leading to increased endurance over sources like straight maltodextrin or dextrose.
It also has a high molecular weight which as we have seen is a big plus when it comes to digestion and bloating. It also has a narrow weight distribution and minimal osmotic pressure helping it to pass through your digestive tract much faster and without the gastric distress that many other forms of Intra workout carbs are known for. Now one of the benefits that I have really noticed with HBCD is how it dramatically affects recovery and DOMS. This is where the product really shines in my opinion. Not only have I found this with myself but also with my athletes. By using HBCD during the workout and slightly prior to start drip-feeding it to the muscles, the rate of recovery is dramatically improved. A leg workout that would take me 4 days to heal from, would magically heal up in only two. When I used it for the first time years back I was wondering what could have made such a huge difference in my recovery time. I then tried the same workout again the following week without the HBCD and now I was back in pain for several days.
After playing with this a few times with upper body workouts as well I came to the conclusion that the HBCD was the main player behind the reduced muscle soreness. Now some people get sore from their workouts and others don’t. I am one of those people that get pretty sore after each training session if I am pushing on the gas during the session. So for people like me, HBCD is a game-changer. Another benefit of HBCD is that it can really help increase the pump in the gym. For powerlifters, this may not be a big deal but for bodybuilders who look to the pump as the end all and be all of the training session, then this should be noted. There are several studies that have been performed on HBCD as well so it’s not just some Bro Science being thrown at you in terms of its effectiveness.
So here you go, these are three of my favorite Intra workout carb sources for strength athletes. Each works differently than the other. You will need to experiment and play with each of them to see what you respond to best. I have athletes that like Vitargo and don’t use anything else. Then I have some on my team that prefers the HCBD over all others. You need to see what works best for you and under what training system it can be most beneficial. As a coach, I do like to have more than one option available because it is rare in any category that one ingredient can take care of all the many needs out there for endurance, muscle pumps, recovery, etc. Even though all of these products do target all of the above, you may find one to be better in one category over another. One might give you better endurance during your training while another may help you recover better from intense training sessions. So have some fun and take the info I have given you and find out what works best for you.