General

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Introduction:

Putting on muscle is already a tough task for many.  It’s sometimes hard to follow a very consistent diet and programming the perfect routine for muscle growth.  Let alone your body recovering properly between each training session.  So much is involved when seriously trying to gain some mass but even having everything perfected can lead to plateauing.  This is when you’d ideally want to start looking at supplements to help aid the muscle building process.

Two types of muscle builders have been discussed for years of being the perfect legal supplements for improving muscle gains, getting a leaner physique, increasing strength and recovery.  They are known for providing significant results in a short period of time.  The safe alternatives to venturing out into illegal substances that can really screw up your body function and hormones (steroids).  These two types of popular muscle builders are known as SARMs and prohormones.  But which one is worth your money and which will yield the better results?

What are Prohormones?

Prohormones are chemicals that act as a precursor of a particular hormone.  Meaning when that chemical is consumed, it will be converted into the hormone through the utilization of specific enzymes that it’s a precursor of in our bodies.  Using prohormones in the purpose of bodybuilding, prohormones are designed to be converted into anabolic hormones.  These are a much safer alternative because the prohormones on the market today are not damaging on the body like prohormones of the past.

Common Types of Prohormones:

  • Androsta-1-ene-3b-ol,17-one – this compound is known as 1-Andro and one of the most popular on the market
  • 2,17a-dimethyl-5a-androsta-1-en-17b-ol-3-one – This prohormone is methystenbolone and is very androgenic
  • 2a, 3a epithio-17a-methyl-5a-androstan-17b-ol – known as Epistane and is one of the safest on the market that delivers quality results

Benefits:

Different types of prohormones will mimic that of testosterone, trenbolone, nandrolone decanoate, and other popular illegal steroids and have similar results as they do convert to those drugs.  Depending on the conversion, you can experience several benefits:

  • Lean mass gain
  • Reduction in body fat
  • Increase in strength and recovery
  • Improved sleep
  • Better pumps and nutrient partitioning
  • Increased aggression in the gym
  • Increased appetite
  • Increase calories for greater muscle gains with little fat gain
  • Not as harmful as anabolic steroids

Side Effects:

It’s important that a PCT supplement is used after a prohormone cycle because some prohormones will cause a suppression of natural testosterone levels.  Low testosterone paired with higher estrogen can have some undesirable effects and the PCT helps elevate your natural levels back to normal and suppress estrogen.

Prohormones can be stacked for even better results but the more you stack, the more side effects you may experience.

  • Headaches and dizziness
  • Acne
  • Water retention (dependent on the type you take and quality of your diet)
  • Reduction in sex drive
  • Mood swings
  • Development of gynecomastia (proper PCT should combat this)

Are Prohormones legal?

Yes prohormones are legal however not all prohormone compounds are legal.  Many different types of prohormones are available on the market and most sold by general retails are the legal versions.  In 2014, a lot of the top popular prohormones were banned by the FDA, causing most companies selling prohormones to alter formulations to meet legal standards.  It’s highly likely if you purchase a prohormone from a reputable retailer, you are purchasing a legal prohormone.

Popular and effective Prohormones:

What are SARMs?

SARM stands for Selective Androgen Receptor Modulator and is a type of drug similar to anabolic steroids.  Your body carefully regulates androgen production and these SARMs are signalers that send powerful messages to muscle cells which in turn can grow rapidly, cause your body to shed more body fat, or even elevate growth hormones.  SARMs are said to be especially helpful for cutting body fat because they don’t increase water retention and are great at retaining muscle.  However, SARMs are not as potent muscle builders as prohormones.

Similar to steroids and prohormones, there are several different types of SARMs that produce different effects.  The names have different characters and numbers in them because they have not been approved for medical use, so pharmaceutical marketers haven’t bothered naming them.

Common Types of SARMs:

  • MK-677
  • LGD-4033 – Ligandrol
  • MK-2866 – Ostarine
  • GSX-007 – Andarine
  • GW-501516 – Cardaine

Benefits:

  • Lean mass gain
  • Reduction in body fat
  • Increase in strength and recovery
  • Does not suppress natural testosterone levels
  • Doesn’t aromatize to estrogen
  • Not as harmful as anabolic steroids

Side Effects:

Nonsteroidal SARMs have been around for only a couple of decades and human research is lacking on showing any long-term health defects.  The only correct answer currently is that we don’t know enough which can warrant concern.

Similar to prohormones, SARMs can be stacked.  The more you stack, the higher the risk of side effects will be.

  • Testicular atrophy (shrinking)
  • Acne
  • Cysts
  • Oily hair and skin
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Increased “bad” cholesterol levels
  • Lowered sperm count

Are SARMs legal?

SARMs are legal to purchase but this is only because they are being sold as “experimental chemicals” that aren’t meant for human consumption.  SARMs aren’t permitted in most sports and the World Anti-Doping Agency has already banned them.  It’s likely only a matter of time until SARMs are banned altogether.  For those reasons, you will not find many supplement companies or supplement retailers selling SARMs.  It’s a grey area.

So which should I take?

Both Prohormones and SARMs have numerous positives and negatives that come with them.  Based off of ease of access, muscle building potential, recoverability, and price, prohormones are the best of the two options when wanting to take that next step in improving your gains.  Prohormones have been around longer and have been more widely used with big-time supplement companies producing them and more research into user’s health after use.  SARMs just don’t have the research backing to feel they are safe to use.

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Are you confused by all of the different variations of C4 pre workout? You’re not the only one. Our friends over at Cellucor were nice enough to put together informational videos outlining the differences between all of the products in the C4 family. We’ve also outlined the main differences in our list below.

  • C4 Original – best selling & original version.
  • C4 Candy Shop – C4 Original in candy flavors.
  • C4 Ripped – C4 targeted towards weight loss.
  • C4 Extreme Energy – more stimulants! This is a harder hitting version of C4 Original.
  • C4 Zero – C4 with no Creatine or Beta Alanine with added BCAA’s.
  • C4 Mass – C4 with Carbohydrates.

10% Off All C4 at Suppz.com

Take 10% off your order of any and all varieties of C4 at Suppz by using code C410.

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C4 Original

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C4 Ripped

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C4 Extreme Energy

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C4 Zero

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Are you confused by all of the different variations of Xtend BCAA? You’re not the only one. Our friends over at Scivation were nice enough to put together informational videos outlining the differences between all of the products in the Xtend family. We’ve also outlined the main differences in our list below.

  • Xtend BCAA’s – Original Xtend. 7g BCAA’s.
  • Xtend Go – Xtend with caffeine for energy.
  • Xtend Ripped – Non stimulant cutting formula for weight loss along with BCAA’s.
  • Xtend Elite – Maximize power and endurance + BCAA’s. Contains Beta Alanine.
  • Xtend Perform – Contains endurance blend with PeakO2 along with BCAA’s.
  • Xtend Free – Does not contain artificial colors or sweeteners.
  • Xtend Raw – Unflavored, uncolored BCAA’s.

10% Off

Get 10% off any and all of these great BCAA products at Suppz.com by using code XTEND10 at checkout.

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The Xtend Family

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Xtend BCAA’s

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Xtend Go

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Xtend Ripped

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Xtend Elite

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Xtend Perform

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Xtend Free

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Xtend Raw

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Scivation Xtend vs other Intra Workout Supplements

A common debate for years has been what’s the best intra workout supplement for boosting your results?  Which will give you better performance in the gym, help with recovery, and build more muscle?

If you look at popularity and sales figures over the years, Scivation Xtend seems to be the one everyone loves.  Why all the love for Xtend over all the others on the market?

  • Longevity
  • Delicious flavoring
  • 7 grams of Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAA’s)
  • 0 carbs, 0 calories
  • And now multiple different versions, some of which include caffeine, carbs, Peak02, etc.

Xtend is marketed as burning fat, promoting recovery, and replenishing electrolytes and is NSF certified.  If you’re purchasing the regular version of Xtend, you will pay less than $1 a serving.  But when you start looking at Xtend Perform, Xtend Elite, or Xtend Ripped, the price point goes up well over $1 a serving.

Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAA’s)

Xtend’s primary ingredient across the board is Branch Chain Amino Acids.  The three primary BCAA’s are leucine, isoleucine, and valine.  These are three of the nine essential amino acids for the human body.  BCAA’s have several roles in the human body such as signaling pathways and metabolism of glucose.  Oxidation of BCAA’s may increase fatty acid oxidation meaning supplementing with BCAA’s can help with fat loss.

One misunderstanding about BCAA’s is that most think they are calorie free.  BCAA’s are NOT calorie free.  Here is the breakdown of calories per gram:

Leucine: 6.5 calories per gram

Isoleucine: 6.5 calories per gram

Valine: 6 calories per gram

So why does the label say zero calories?  Supplement manufacturers don’t because they are not legally obligated to do so due to the following:

  • the FDA regulations state that supplement manufacturers can’t declare the protein content of a product when this only contains individual amino acids.
  • the FDA regulations allow supplement manufacturers to calculate the caloric content of their products using a number of methods, including the Atawater method, which involves adding up the calories from protein (4 kcal/g), carbs (4 kcal/gram) and fats (9 kcal/gram).

But that’s still a very small amount of calories in the grand scheme of things.

Essential Amino Acids (EAA’s)

If BCAA’s are only three of the nine essential amino acids, what about supplementing with EAA’s?

The nine essential amino acids are Methionine, Lysine, Phenylalanine, Threonine, Tryptophan, Leucine, Isoleucine, Valine.  EAA’s are called “essential” because the body cannot make them.  They must be obtained through food sources or supplementation.  Not only those going to the gym can benefit from EAA’s, but everyone can!

Multiple benefits of EAA’s:

  • EAA’s stimulate the production of cellular energy and promote cellular repair
  • Create critical enzymes for healthy digestion
  • Prevent muscular breakdown during periods of intense physical and mental stress
  • Improve, enhance, and protect the mitochondria, our cells energy factories
  • Can curb hunger and improve metabolism
  • Stimulate protein synthesis

So which should I take?

Both of them have positive benefits and are marketed the same.  Companies selling BCAA supplements would have you believe BCAA’s are enough to stimulate protein synthesis.  It is true a hefty dose of Leucine will help but getting all nine essential amino acids will produce a much better effect overall for the body.  Supplementing with BCAA’s is still beneficial for maintaining glycogen stores and promoting fat loss.  However research has shown EAA’s to be superior to BCAA’s.

What EAA supplements are available?

Plenty of intra-workout supplements on the market contain EAA’s.  Here’s a list of some of the most popular EAA products sold here at Suppz:

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gnc protein comparison

GNC has been an established retail chain selling health and nutrition related products including vitamins, supplements, minerals, herbs, sports nutrition, diet, and energy products since the 1960’s.  They are a combination of corporate-owned and franchised stores all across the world. A local GNC is the most common store that someone new to the fitness world goes to.  I know I found myself going to my local GNC and spending hundreds of dollars on a monthly basis building and establishing my supplement stack.  What really stuck out to me was the amount of money I found myself spending on a month supply.  Are these supplements better than the ones at my local grocery store?  Are other supplement companies out there offering quality products for a better price?

Looking at the products offered by GNC, they have a core line of their own supplements they sell.  You’ll notice when visiting a store and asking for help, this is where your friendly GNC employee will direct you because they make a commission off these items.  Let’s use protein powder as our example to see what GNC offers versus what else is on the market.

GNC Protein Powder

Arguably the most popular GNC supplement is their Pro Performance AMP Amplified Wheybolic Extreme 60.  That’s quite the catchy name.  Without a sale being ran, a three pound tub will run you $54.99 for the original version.  $59.99 for the “ripped” version.  The three pound tub is the only size available and you get 51 scoops per tub.  You do get quite a few flavors to select from such as Chocolate, Vanilla, Cookies and Cream, Strawberry, Peanut Butter, and Salted Caramel.  It’s been several years since I’ve tried this protein, but I remember the Chocolate flavor being ok.

For each scoop you are consuming 90 calories and have a macro nutrient breakdown of 20 grams protein, 2 grams carbohydrates, and half a gram of fat.  The protein sources are made up of Hydrolyzed Whey Protein and Whey Protein Isolate.  You also are getting a small dose of L-Carnitine and an Amino Acceleration System which is more of an enzyme matrix for improving digestion of this protein.

Now let’s look at GNC’s mass gainer Pro Performance AMP Amplified Mass XXX.  $49.99 for a 13 serving tub that comes in the flavors of Chocolate, Vanilla, Cookies and Cream, and Strawberry.  A full serving is four scoops giving you 750 calories, 50 grams protein, 123 grams carbohydrates, and 6 grams of fat.  You also get HMB and Creatine but it’s a prop blend, so you don’t know how much of each you’re getting.

These GNC protein powders do appear to have a solid profile on them but you are paying a hefty amount for each.  Easily over a dollar per serving which adds up.  What GNC has going for them is a brand name many people know and you are going to pay extra just for that brand name on the tub.  To be fair to GNC, they have a rewards program however the high prices mealy come down to barely meeting the competive prices of other high quality proteins available on the market.

What about other retailers and protein powders?

Plenty of other retailers are out there, it’s just a matter of looking.  Big grocery stores like Walmart, Walgreens, CVS offer supplements and protein powders, however looking at the brands and quality, they are marketed towards the general public. These are very basic products, and normally are not high quality. It’s recommended to look at retailers that specialize in sports and nutrition supplements for finding the higher quality and better formulated products.  Bodybuilding.com was originally the top place for purchasing supplements online however they have been on a major decline over the last several years of less deals, higher shipping costs, and longer shipping times, and they just dropped a bunch of brands.  Variation in product from Bodybuilding.com is the lowest it’s been in several years.

In comparison, Suppz has been on the rise with more and more brands being added and new store locations opening.  Suppz began as a gym in the small town of Fennimore, WI.  The gym had a small shop which eventually transitioned to an online store that does business in 94 different countries as well as local brick and mortar locations in the state of Wisconsin.  High quality products for competitive prices backed by great customer service.  A rewards program was recently incorporated to save customers even more.  One of the first things that stands out about Suppz is that they will price match any competitor selling the same product for a lower price.  Yet one thing you will notice is you won’t find yourself asking them to price match often because the prices are already some of the best on the market.  But the big question you may be asking is: what is the quality of the products they sell?

Nutrabio

Nutrabio is a company that’s really been changing the supplement industry with the amazing quality and 3rd party testing they use on every batch of product they produce.  In the supplement industry, without 3rd party testing verification, you don’t know that what you’re looking at on the supplement label is really in the tub.  This 3rd party testing verified every product meets label claims and the customer can feel safe knowing what’s listed on the product is what’s in the tub.  Some companies over the past several years have been caught going the cheap route not putting the full dose in the actual product.

Nutrabio offers a whey protein isolate, whey protein concentrate, micellar casein, and mass gainer protein powders.  All of which are produced in a GMP facility and are FDA inspected.  Nutrabio’s most popular protein is its Classic Whey which is gluten free, 25 grams a protein per serving of whey protein concentrate and only 130 calories.  Available in several delicious tasting flavors such as Chocolate, Vanilla, Strawberry, Salted Caramel, Chocolate Peanut Butter, Cookies and Cream, Cake Batter, Pina Colada, Cold Brew Cappuccino, and Horchata.  In a two pound tub you get 27 servings for $32.99.   A five pound tub provides 66 servings for $59.99.  Buying in bulk will save you money and you’re paying less than a dollar a serving for one of the highest quality, tested and verified protein powders on the market.

MTS Nutrition

MTS Nutrition another high quality company that has firm belief in 3rd party testing.  They offer a wide range of supplements but MTS Machine Whey is arguably the top selling product of the bunch.  Formulated with high quality ingredients and produced in a GMP manufactured facility.  Machine Whey is packed with 25 grams of protein and moderate carbs and fats to range between 150-170 calories per serving depending on which flavor you purchase.  You also get a big dose of leucine, over 5 grams of BCAAs, and immunoglobins and lactoferrins to support immune function.

Two pound tubs come with 23 servings per tub and costs $29.99.  Or you can opt for the more cost efficient five pound tub with 67 servings for $54.99.  Besides the excellent profile, the biggest draw of customers purchasing Machine Whey are the flavors.  Flavors include Chocolate, Vanilla, Cookies and Cream, Peanut Butter Cookies and Cream, Mint Cookies and Cream, Red Velvet Cake, Apple Pie, Strawberry Cheesecake, Banana Cream Pie, Birthday Cake, Peanut Butter Fluff, Blueberry Muffin, Black Forrest Cake, and Pumpkin Pie.  I’ve tried a majority of the flavors and they are all absolutely fantastic!

Other cost efficient and quality options

Besides the two brands and proteins I’ve listed above, you can find plenty of other fantastic quality and tasting protein powders on the market that are very cost effective.  I’ve compiled a list of just a few popular proteins and the prices you can find them for at any Suppz location or on the website:

Brand: Dymatize Iso-100

Price: 1.6lbs – $29.99, 3lbs – $49.99, 5lbs – $74.99

Flavors: Gourmet Chocolate, Gourmet Vanilla, Strawberry, Cookies and Cream, Banana, Birthday, Cake, Chocolate Peanut Butter, Peanut Butter, Fudge Brownie, Cinnamon Roll, Chocolate Coconut

Description: One of the most popular isolates on the market and for good reason.  Only containing 110 calories per serving, 25 grams protein, and no carbs or fats.  Backed up by fantastic taste, you are getting exactly what you pay for.

Brand: Nutrakey Whey Optima

Price: 2.4lbs – $28.95, 5lbs – $51.95

Flavors: Chocolate Lava Cake, Vanilla Ice Cream Cookie, Salted Caramel Peanut Butter Cup, Cookies and Cream

Description: Quality backed by a quality company, Nutrakey produces a very healthy and clean protein powder with very good flavoring.  120 calories and 23 grams of protein with only 3 grams carbohydrates and 1 gram of fat.

Brand: Purus Labs MyoFeed

Price: 2lbs – $27.95, 4.4lbs – $54.95

Flavors: Chocolate Cookie Crunch, Homemade Vanilla Wafer, Mom’s Strawberry Milkshake, Maple Butter Pancake, Chocolate Peanut Butter, Vanilla Peanut Butter

Description: Purus Labs prides themselves in releasing products that have been tested, every batch.  The first and only brand to incorporate PB2 (a popular powdered peanut butter brand) into the flavoring of their protein.  Only 120 calories for 23 grams of protein, 4 grams of carbs, and barely over a gram of fat.

All of these protein powders listed are high quality and clean protein powders backed by fantastic flavoring.  Check out the website or any store location and you will find Suppz has plenty of other options that are even more cost effective that may be on a monthly sale.  Speak with the employees livechat, or email [email protected], and they can give you information based on personal experience with each one to help you find the protein that fits your diet perfectly and one you will ENJOY the flavor of.

Reviewing everything above, GNC protein compared with all the other proteins considered does have a higher cost to them.  All protein powders I’ve mentioned including the GNC protein has an excellent ingredient profile, good taste, and will benefit the user.  The biggest difference is the price.  When I’m shopping, I do want what’s going to be of most benefit to me.  But paying a higher price for the same results as I can get from other protein powders, I’ll opt for a combination of high quality, great taste, and what’s cost efficient so I can use the money saved either on the other supplements I need to re-up on or enjoy some extra money I can spend elsewhere.

The main takeaway I want people to take from this entire article is that paying a higher price for your protein powder does NOT mean it’s better.  Paying twice as much for the exact same item does not change the fact the higher priced item is the exact same.

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Optimum Gold Standard Whey 5lb Tub

Nearly everyone that uses supplements to some capacity has used protein at one point. From whey to vegan to everything in between there are tons of different ones to choose from and it seems there are more and more choices popping up every time you walk into your local store or check out the newest arrivals here on Suppz.com. Despite the huge selection and ever changing protein landscape though, there are certain products that have seemed to stand the test of time and achieve legendary status, and among them is Optimum Nutrition’s Gold Standard Whey.

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Knife Fork Spoon Clock

There have been a number of diets to come and go throughout the years, gaining and losing popularity in practice as the fitness climate is always evolving. From If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM), to carb backloading, to keto, there will always be methods that rise and fall in popularity. Another such popular diet method that has been used with notable success is Intermittent Fasting. Also commonly referred to simply as “IF”

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creatine confusion

Photo: “365/301 Supplements and Weights and Shakes oh my!” by California Cow is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Sometimes I like to sit back and drink in the random weight room chatter. If you have never had the pleasure, turn off your tunes for 30 seconds and soak up the nonsense around you. You will hear the most random comments ranging from, “is water paleo?” to “don’t tickle the barbell!” Although these excerpts provide a quick chuckle, there is something that I hear all too often that is completely maddening. Misinformation about Creatine.

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Suppz Shelving

To be a top selling protein powder in a billion dollar supplement industry is by no means an easy task.  Supplement companies need to create a protein powder that excels in multiple categories.  Taste alone in a saturated industry is not enough anymore.  With the addition of 3rd party testing, customers can feel better that they won’t end up with a cheap amino-spiked product.  The consumers want an effectively priced protein produced from quality ingredients with flavoring they can look forward to drinking.  We support brands that have good business ethics and aren’t out for a quick dollar.

The reality that rings true for the fitness and supplement industry is that there will always be a trend. Whether it be the diet that promises to be the end-all for fitness goals or the supplement that promises to redefine a category, we are always searching for the latest and greatest. The most recent emergence as you are probably aware of by now is the ketogenic diet and actually combines both a diet trend and a whole category of supplements geared toward helping you live the ‘keto’ lifestyle.

Photo by Cheeesssee / CC BY

The scene is set. Picture it along with me, it’s primetime action set for a picture perfect Saturday night. It’s about an hour before game time and for some, the biggest game of these young men’s lives. The teammates move in silence but with a vibe of confidence and quiet, hard focus. They gather as a team on their folding chairs and listen intently to the coach as they cover the strategy one last time, running through the X’s and O’s for taking on their bitter rival. They eat as a team; ensuring proper nutrition and hydration aren’t taken lightly and then gather for one last pump up session to ensure everyone is on the same page and to not let the crowd rattle them before heading out to do battle.