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Supplements for the weekend warrior

Weekend warriors who exercise one or two days per week can reap athletic benefits from ingredients such as magnesium, rhodiola, branched chained amino acids (BCAAs) and more.

The “weekend warrior” is typically the person who is chained to their desk and/or managing a busy household throughout the week, exercising only on weekends. In the past, researchers thought that only exercising on weekends could increase the risk of injury, but research now shows the opposite.

A recent study showed surprising longevity benefits among those who exercise only on weekends compared to people who skip exercise altogether, as well as fewer deaths from heart disease and cancer among weekend warriors.1 This pooled analysis of population-based surveys included 63,591 adult participants. All-cause mortality risk was approximately 30 percent lower in active versus inactive adults. The study included “weekend warrior” respondents who performed the recommended amount of 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous activity from one or two sessions per week, insufficiently active respondents who performed less than the recommended amount from one or two sessions per week, and regularly active respondents who performed the recommended amount from three or more sessions per week.

Experts, such as those at the World Health Organization (WHO), still agree that the most effective way to achieve optimal fitness and protect against injury is to resist the temptation to cram a week’s worth of exercise into two days. Exercising only on the weekend is better than not exercising at all, however, and brands that cater to these types of exercisers should consider the nutrient requirements of the weekend warrior.

A key part to achieving fitness goals, overall health and avoiding injury is ensuring that the nutritional demands of a healthy, active lifestyle are being met. Targeted, high-quality performance formulas can strongly support the body to fully prepare for, perform during and recover after exercise. The ideal formula will support lean body mass and cardiovascular health, as well as promote energy production, stamina and recovery from strenuous exercise.

Beta-alanine increases muscular energy, in part by reducing muscular fatigue during training. Beta-alanine is a non-essential amino acid that is necessary for creating carnosine in the body, which has been shown to play a significant role in balancing muscle pH. It can reduce muscular acidity, which aids in muscular performance, acting as an acid buffer, which delays the onset of fatigue and muscular failure.2 In recovery, stabilizing the acid-base balance reduces the potential for damage to tissue and muscle that occurs during exertion. It has also shown to have a number of performance-promoting functions that include antioxidant properties and regulation of calcium.

Citrulline L-malate contributes to the defense against fatigue by removing excess ammonia from the body and regulating muscle pH. It is a salt of the amino acid citrulline and the organic acid, malic acid. One of its biggest benefits is that it helps remove endotoxins, such as lactic acid and ammonia, from the body.3 These endotoxins are produced by all the hallmarks of training: intense physical activity, protein metabolism and catabolic states. Endotoxins damage living cells and impair performance.

Rhodiola is a botanical that supports healthy energy production and the body’s adaptation to exercise. Research on isolated tissues, organs and enzymes revealed that Rhodiola exhibits adaptogenic effects, such as neuroprotective, cardioprotective, anti-fatigue and central nervous system (CNS) stimulating effects.4 Rhodiola increased adenosine triphosphate (ATP) production, thus potentially leading to superior energy levels and sustained exercise tolerance.

Alpha-ketoglutarate plays a key role in the Krebs cycle, which is a series of chemical reactions involved in the body's production of energy. Alpha-ketoglutarate is also involved in the formation of glutamine, an amino acid required for protein synthesis and for proper functioning of the immune system. It promotes the body's production of protein, supports balanced blood sugar levels during exercise and supports exercise endurance.5

Magnesium helps move blood sugar into muscles and dispose of lactic acid, which can build up in muscles during exercise and cause pain. It is necessary for the creation of ATP, which transports energy within the cells.6 ATP is needed for hundreds of body functions that require energy. This means that the supplementation of magnesium indirectly increases the amount of energy in the cells.

Glycine propionyl l-carnitine (GPC) supports healthy fat metabolism and circulatory health. GPC supports healthy nitric oxide (NO) production, which is essential for healthy circulatory flow to support the delivery of nutrients to the cell and the removal of metabolic toxins. It has powerful antioxidant properties that aid in reducing excessive oxidative stress, has a strong affinity for heart and muscle tissue, and can support healthy stamina and performance.7

L-arginine is a vasodilator, especially in combination with citrulline.8 Both increase blood flow, so the heart can pump more blood more efficiently, which can promote cardiovascular and muscular performance. L-arginine’s ability to improve blood flow and circulation occurs because of its ability to increase NO production. NO stimulates blood vessels to dilate and improve circulatory status. L-arginine supports the healthy detoxification of ammonia, which is a byproduct of high intensity training.

L-leucine is the most important of the branched chained amino acids (BCAAs) to maintain and protect the body’s muscle mass. It is essential for muscular growth and recovery as a stimulator of protein synthesis in the muscle.9 Valine supports leucine and contributes to lean muscle-mass building and muscle repair. Isoleucine contributes to the biochemical process that generates energy, helps build lean muscle mass and reduce fat.

Dimethylglycine (DMG) is an amino acid that helps the body cope with physical stress by promoting oxygen utilization to support the rate of muscle recovery after strenuous exercise. Studies show it speeds up the removal of lactic acid from the body, which allows for faster recovery, fewer aches and pains, and optimal training performance.10,11

Jack Grogan is chief science officer for Uckele Health & Nutrition. He is a recognized expert in hair mineral analysis, a valuable tool in determining the causes of nutritional imbalances or deficiencies. With experience in the fields of biology, biochemistry and nutrition, he has been influential in the development of hundreds of proprietary nutritional formulas and programs. Uckele Health & Nutrition is a health company committed to nutritional science and technology and formulating and manufacturing a full spectrum of quality nutritional supplements incorporating the latest nutritional advances.

References

1. O'Donovan G et al. “Association of "Weekend Warrior" and Other Leisure Time Physical Activity Patterns With Risks for All-Cause, Cardiovascular Disease, and Cancer Mortality.” JAMA Intern Med. 2017 Mar 1;177(3):335-342. DOI: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.8014.

2. Blancquaert L, Everaert I, Derave W. “Beta-alanine supplementation, muscle carnosine and exercise performance.” Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2015;18(1):63–70.

3. A. Callis B et al. “Activity of Citrulline Malate on Acid-Base Balance and Blood Ammonia and Amino Acid Levels.” Arzneimittelforschung. 1991 Jun;41(6):660-3

4. Panossian A, Wikman G, Sarris J, Rosenroot (Rhodiola rosea): traditional use, chemical composition, pharmacology and clinical efficacy. Phytomedicine. 2010 Jun;17(7):481-93. doi: 10.1016/j.phymed.2010.02.002. Epub 2010 Apr 7.

5. Campbell B et al. “Pharmacokinetics, safety, and effects on exercise performance of L-arginine alpha-ketoglutarate in trained adult men.” Nutrition. 2006 Sep;22(9):872-81

6. Chen H et al. “Magnesium enhances exercise performance via increasing glucose availability in the blood, muscle, and brain during exercise. PLoS One. 2014 Jan 20;9(1):e85486. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone. eCollection 2014.

7. Bloomer R, Smith W, Fisher-Wellman K. “Glycine propionyl-L-carnitine increases plasma nitrate/nitrite in resistance trained men.” J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2007 Dec 3;4:22.

8. Campbell B, La Bounty P, Roberts M. “The ergogenic potential of arginine.” J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2004 Dec 31;1(2):35-8. DOI: 10.1186/1550-2783-1-2-35.

9.  Shimomura Y et al. “Exercise promotes BCAA catabolism: effects of BCAA supplementation on skeletal muscle during exercise.” J Nutr. 2004 Jun;134(6 Suppl):1583S-1587S. DOI: 10.1093/jn/134.6.1583S.

10. Bishop, P. A., Smith, J. F. and Young, B. (1987) Effects of N' N'-dimethylglycine on physiological response and performance in trained runners. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 27, 53.

12. Harpaz, M., Otto, R. M. and Smith, T. K. (1985) The effect of N' N'-dimethylglycine ingestion upon aerobic performance. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 17, 287.

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