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Performance Enhancing Supplements

The term Sports Supplements is new but the story remains the same. The desire to find a supplement that will produce bigger, leaner, muscles more quickly. Is there a supplement that will enhance muscle growth? Can you take a supplement that will provide more energy to train harder? What athlete doesn't want to perform better? The Anabolic Steroid Control Act, passed in 1990, which outlawed steroids, had apparently sent many athletes looking for an alternative. These athletes received help in their search when Congress passed the Dietary Supplement Health Education Act (DSHEA) in 1994. DSHEA stated that dietary supplements were not drugs and not subject to FDA regulation. The supplement industry would regulate itself. The era of legal performance enhancing supplements had arrived. The supplement industry would provide athletes the safe steroid-like alternatives they were looking for and everyone would be able to reach their maximum goals.

This article is not intended to detail the pros and cons of each specific new supplement that has found its way into the fitness culture and claims to increase performance. It is intended to caution fitness professionals about the confusing world of supplement manufacturers.

A great deal of the interest in performance enhancing supplements can be traced back to creatine monohydrate. Promoted as a muscular performance enhancer, creatine became the model for this emerging industry. Next came the androgen steroid precursor supplements like DHEA and androstenedione, androstenediol and nor androstenedione. These supplements were promoted as ways to increase testosterone levels safely. Ephedra, caffeine, and guarana became the booster supplements to provide more energy or to facilitate weight loss. Many of these initial performance-enhancing supplements are now banned from use by athletic organizations because they were harmful to athletes. Many assume that the performance claims made by manufacturers are based on actual data, and that these agents must be safe because they are sold to the general public. Tragically, that simply is not the case.

David Schardt, associate nutritionist at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, when asked about performance enhancing supplements, revealed these disturbing facts, "The labels are often misleading, incomplete, and not a guide to using the product." Larry Bowers, professor and director of the athletic testing and toxicology laboratory at the Sports Medicine Identification Laboratory at Indiana University Medical Center went even further. His laboratory was frequently asked to test performance enhancing supplements and found that what is on the label is not what is in the bottle. "Since there is no regulatory oversight of the compounds and there's no one checking to see what's in it, it could be anything." How many times have we heard a professional athlete say he did not know the supplement he was taking contained ephedra or a steroid?

A recent survey of athletes and fitness regulars who took a performance-enhancing supplement revealed that 97% knew they caused harmful side effects or worse. People take these supplements because they want results and are falsely led to believe that performance-enhancing supplements are the answer. The time has come for healthcare and fitness professionals to convince clients that the best route to building muscle is the old fashioned way: eat a healthy diet and employ a commitment training regimen.

The fitness equipment industry has done its job providing us with state-of-the-art training equipment. We have the most qualified fitness professionals ever to instruct clients on how to use the equipment safely and how to avoid injury. However, we must practice what we preach. The commitment to what we know is right must be stronger than the desire to please.

Healthcare professionals learned this lesson the hard way. We created antibiotic resistant organisms simply because we gave our patients what they wanted - when we knew an antibiotic was not needed. The fitness industry professionals must not make that same mistake. Do not fall prey to the outrageous claims heard every day about new supplements. The data to support their efficacy is simply non-existent and the sports supplement industry has not proven itself reliable or ethical.

Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine, Georgetown University, CEO of American Health Sciences

For more information about Dr. John Mamana and American Health Sciences, please visit


Eichner ER: Erogenicaids: What Athletes are using and why. The Physician and Sports Medicine 25:4 Apr. 1997

How effective is static stretching?
A traditional warm-up procedure often uses brief linear cardiovascular work to "break a sweat" and then follows that with static stretching. The aim is to raise the core temperature of the body while increasing the delivery of blood to the working muscle. But during the static-stretching phase, the body begins to remove excess body heat, so the increase in body temperature from the initial aerobic warm up is lost. Even a layperson might wonder how holding stretching poses could prepare the mind and muscles for explosive, dynamic action.
Indeed, current research supports that pre-activity static stretching serve to shut the body down, slowing the nervous system activity, elongating muscle fibers and allowing the body to cool off- leaving the athlete ill-prepared to jump into dynamic activity.
Sport require movement in multiple directions, at different speeds and through various range of motion to enable participants to respond appropriatly to elements of unpredictability in the environment. Many sports also require sudden changes in body position:for example soccer. Muscles must be both extensible and reactive to reduce the risk and serverity of injury and prepare for explosive efforts.
A dynamic warm-up enables athletes or exercisers to beginn the game or training session ready to meet the demands of the activity at maximal intensity.
The warm up should be performed as close as possible to activity time. Approximiately 10-15min will activate the nervous system without causing fatigue.

For more information:
A. Clark & P. Twist: The Dynamic Warm-up. IDEA Fitness Journal 2007;


Fowles,J.R., Sale,D.G., & MacDougall,J.D. 2000.

Eating at night

The old saying goes, "Breakfast for a king, lunch for a prince, dinner for pauper." But do you need to eat less at night (i.e., after 6pm)? The simple answer is no, you don"t. Just make sure you don't overeat. Over consumption of carbohydrate or any food late in the day is the likely cause of weight gain related to nighttime eating.

It's hard to find any conclusive metabolic evidence that food eaten at night is more likely to be stored as body fat. Metabolism drops when you are sleeping, but that simply lowers your daily energy expenditure and its 24 hour energy balance (energy in versus energy out) that really matters for weight gain or loss. For fat loss, there appears to be no difference in success between eating three square meals or eating more often, as long as total energy intake remains the same. Studies of people who eat the same number of daily calories with different meal frequencies in metabolic chambers fail to show a difference in metabolic rate between three or six meal patterns.

The January 2005 editorial in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (AJCN) states, "Simply put, the question of whether there is a health benefit from the consumption of small meals will ultimately depend on how much energy is consumed, as opposed to how often or how regularly one eats."

Eat Regularly

A study in the same issue of the AJCN suggests that keeping the meal pattern constant does have metabolic advantages. Researchers compared a regular meal pattern (six meals a day) versus a "chaotic" meal pattern of anywhere between three and nine eating occasions on different days for two weeks. The regular meal pattern was associated with a greater thermic effect of food (energy cost of digestion and absorption), lower energy intake and lower fasting total and LDL ("bad") cholesterol. There was also a slightly lower postprandial (after meal) insulin concentration with the regular pattern. All these factors suggest choosing a pattern and sticking to it, rather than skipping meals, will assist with fat loss.

Eat for Appetite Management

Eating five or six meals a day may assist with appetite management by maintaining satiety between main meals. This means you'll be less likely to overeat at meals. If you are active and have large energy requirements, you'll also need to spread your food intake over the day.

However, for some people, eating every three hours may have a negative impact on weight management. This can be the case when an individual has poor appetite management and too many snacks between meals. They may be better suited to avoiding food triggers between main meals, especially if they are not very active and don't need to fuel up so often in the day.

Stay Under Your "Calorie Cap"

The choice of how much you eat at night can best be made based on how well you have eaten up until dinner time. If you are well below your normal calorie intake at dinner time, you can afford to be more flexible and eat more at night. If you have blown your daily calorie budget by lunch with a double cheeseburger and soft drink, you'll need to limit anything you eat later in the day to minimize excess calories and potential body fat gain.

Getting Practical

The above evidence provides an answer that food eaten at night is not more likely to end up stored as body fat, especially when you are within your daily calorie allowance. Even so, we still need to consider the reasons why people often eat too much at night and counter these with some targeted practical advice.

Lack of planning - If you don't eat enough during the day, you risk greater hunger at night. If you skip breakfast, are too busy for lunch or forget to snack, you leave yourself open to overeating in the evening. By planning your food for the day and taking time out to eat regularly, you can satisfy your fuel needs and avoid overfilling late in the day.

Eating habits - Habits are powerful behavioral patterns that allow us to perform many of our daily tasks without conscious effort. Showering, dressing and teeth cleaning are good habits that, for most of us, happen on autopilot. Unfortunately, overeating at night also occurs on autopilot, and the habit needs to be broken. Try serving the evening meal on a smaller plate or taking leftovers off the stove and placing them in the fridge immediately. These new habits will put the brakes on dinnertime feasting.

Social pressure - Your diet may stay on track until you come home to sit down at the table with other people. You may feel obliged to eat everything that's served by your caring partner, mother or friend. You can also simply overeat over long social meals. To manage this feeding pressure, make your diet plans known to those at home. Recruiting their support to serve less or change what you eat at dinner will work in your favor. And as for the belief that you should clean your plate, learn a new mantra: "It's better to go in the waste than around my waist!"

Emotional escape - After a stressful day, food can sooth and relax. Chocolate, ice cream, cake and chips work well at delivering instant relief. Eating is also an effective short term strategy to beat nighttime boredom. Helping clients identify an evening stress or "boredom food" link is the first step. Alternative emotional rewards or stimulation then need to be established. Ask the question, "What can you do in the evening that would reduce the need to eat?"

New Guidelines

To eat less at night, focus on planning, breaking negative eating habits, social support and emotional alternatives to food. Here are two guidelines to keep in mind for your evening meal:

Catch up on your nutrition - The evening meal is an opportunity to achieve a balanced diet for that day. For example, if you've gone short on three serves of fruit during the day, aim to have some fruit salad for dessert. Eat a little less of your main dish if needed. If you've missed out on vegetables during the day, make your evening meal veggie based such as a stir fry, vegetable lasagne or a salad.

Eat enough to get to bed - Unless you are an athlete or exercising strenuously in bed, you won't need to carbo load at night. Serve a smaller portion, take the edge off hunger and then get an early night. If you are asleep, you won't feel hungry until morning. Then you can start another day of nutritious eating with a healthy breakfast fit for a king. The old saying still works but for practical reasons.


  1. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 56, No. 1, 1586-1591, January 2005

Receiving acupuncture for pain relief is real, not the result of the placebo effect. Mounting research evidence supports the conclusion that acupuncture provides clinically important pain relief. For example, in a study presented at an American College of Rheumatology meeting in San Antonio, Texas, in October 2004, researchers found that patients who received 3 months of regular acupuncture treatments for pain relief experienced less pain and were able to move better than patients who received fake acupuncture treatments, as reported by Reuters.

The study involving acupuncture for pain relief, conducted by Marc Hochberg, MD, MPH, a rheumatologist at the University of Maryland, included 570 patients with arthritis who still experienced pain in spite of taking medication. Subjects were divided into three groups. Each group received one of the following: traditional Chinese acupuncture, fake acupuncture with needles taped to the skin rather than inserted, or educational materials regarding arthritis and pain. Within 8 weeks, the acupuncture patients began feeling significantly better, according to a report in UPI Science News. Patients continued to improve over the 26-week study.

Acupuncture originated in China more than 2,000 years ago and is part of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). TCM is based on the concept that chi, or "life energy,"flows through all living things and is influenced by yin (negative energy) and yang (positive energy). When the flow of chi within the human body is disrupted, yin and yang are said to be out of balance. Acupuncture is a treatment designed to restore this balance.

The acupuncture method receiving the most scientific study uses thin, solid, metallic needles to penetrate the skin at specific anatomical points. While the reasons why acupuncture for pain relief works have not yet been definitively explained, the National Institutes of Health National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine continues to fund studies that examine the practice.

Self Myofascial Release or What are people doing on Foam Rollers?

From the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM): Self myofascial release is another stretching technique that focuses on the neural system and fascial system in the body (or, the fibrous tissue that surrounds or separates the muscle tissue). By applying gentle pressure to an adhesion or "knot", the elastic muscle fibers are altered from a bundled position into a straighter alignment with the direction of the muscle or fascia.

It's crucial to note that when a person is using self myofascial release he or she must find a tender spot and sustain pressure on that spot for a minimum of 30 seconds. This will increase the Golgi tendon organ activity and decrease muscle spindle activity, thus the autogenic inhibition response.

To do these stretches you will need a foam roller or tennis ball. It's uncomfortable and some of the trigger points actually hurt.

Benefits of Self Myofascial Release

  • corrects muscle imbalances
  • joint range of motion
  • relieves muscle soreness, joint stress
  • neuromuscular hypertonicity
  • extensibility of musculotendinous junction
  • neuromuscular efficiency
  • maintain normal functional muscle length

These are all big words. Basically, what this all means, is that you are giving yourself a deep tissue massage or acupressure massage and stretching out the muscles. You're kneading out the knots that form in the muscle, which let toxins build up inside them. For that reason, it's very important to drink an extra amount of water.

There are many different styles of yoga being taught and practiced today. Although all of the styles are based on the same physical postures (called poses), each has a particular emphasis. Here is a quick guide to the most popular types of yoga that can help you decode the schedule at your gym and figure out which class is right for you.

Hatha is a very general term that can encompass many of the physical types of yoga. If a class is described as Hatha style, it is probably going to be slow-paced and gentle and provide a good introduction to the basic yoga poses.


Like Hatha, Vinyasa is a general term that is used to describe many different types of classes. Vinyasa, which means breath-synchronized movement, tends to be a more vigorous style based on the performance of a series of poses called Sun Salutations, in which movement is matched to the breath. A Vinyasa class will typically start with a number of Sun Salutations to warm up the body for more intense stretching that's done at the end of class.


Ashtanga, which means "eight limbs" in Sanskrit, is a fast-paced, intense style of yoga. A set series of poses is performed, always in the same order. Ashtanga practice is very physically demanding because of the constant movement from one pose to the next. In yoga terminology, this movement is called flow. Ashtanga is also the inspiration for what is often called POWER YOGA. If a class is described as Power Yoga, it will be based on the flowing style of Ashtanga, but not necessarily keep strictly to the set Ashtanga series of poses.


Based on the teachings of the yogi B.K.S Iyengar, this style of practice is most concerned with bodily alignment. In yoga, the word alignment is used to describe the precise way in which your body should be positioned in each pose in order to obtain the maximum benefits and avoid injury. Iyengar practice usually emphasizes holding poses over long periods versus moving quickly from one pose to the next (flow). Also, Iyengar practice encourages the use of props, such as yoga blankets, blocks and straps, in order to bring the body into alignment.


The emphasis in Kundalini is on the breath in conjunction with physical movement, with the purpose of freeing energy in the lower body and allowing it to move upwards. All asana practices make use of controlling the breath. But in Kundalini, the exploration of the effects of the breath (also called prana, meaning energy) on the postures is essential. Kundalini uses rapid, repetitive movements rather than poses held for a long time, and the teacher will often lead the class in call and response chanting.


Pioneered by Bikram Choudhury, this style is more generally referred to as Hot Yoga. It is practiced in a 95 to 100 degree room, which allows for a loosening of tight muscles and profuse sweating, which is thought to be cleansing. The Bikram method is a set series of 26 poses, but not all hot classes make use of this series.


Founded in 1997 by John Friend, Anusara combines a strong emphasis on physical alignment with a positive philosophy derived from Tantra. The philosophy's premise is belief in the intrinsic goodness of all beings. Anusara classes are usually light-hearted and accessible to students of differing abilities. Poses are taught in a way that opens the heart, both physically and mentally, and props are often used.


This style of yoga emerged from one of New York's best-known yoga studios. Jivamukti founders David Life and Sharon Gannon take inspiration from Ashtanga yoga and emphasize chanting, meditation, and spiritual teachings. They have trained many teachers who have brought this style of yoga to studios and gyms, predominantly in the U.S. These classes are physically intense and often include some chanting.


Headquartered in Santa Monica, California, and gaining popularity around the U.S., Forrest Yoga is the method taught by Ana Forrest. The performance of vigorous asana sequences is intended to strengthen and purify the body and release pent-up emotions and pain so that healing can begin. Expect an intense workout with an emphasis on abdominal strengthening and deep breathing.


The name Kripalu is associated both with a style of hatha yoga and a yoga and wellness center in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. Both were founded by yoga guru Amrit Desai, who came to the United States from India in 1960. Kripalu is a yoga practice with a compassionate approach and emphasis on meditation, physical healing and spiritual transformation that overflows into daily life. Kripalu also focuses on looking inward and moving at your own pace.


Integral yoga follows the teachings of Sri Swami Sachidananda, who came to the U.S. in the 1960s and eventually founded many Integral Yoga Institutes and the famed Yogaville Ashram in Virginia. Integral is a gentle hatha practice, and classes often also include breathing exercises, chanting, kriyas, and meditation.


The first Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Center was founded in 1959 by Swami Vishnu-devananda, a disciple of Swami Sivananda. There are now close to 80 locations worldwide, including several ashram retreats. Sivananda yoga is based upon five principles:

1. Proper exercise (Asana, focusing on 12 poses in particular)

2. Proper breathing (Pranayama)

3. Proper relaxation (Savasana)

4. Proper diet (Vegetarian)

5. Positive thinking (Vedanta) and meditation (Dhyana)

Or contact one of our  Yoga Instructors

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