In the last bulletin I presented a generaloverview of the Parrillo Nutrition Program,and this month I want to extend that discus-sion by talking about strategies to maximizeyour results by adding nutritional supple-ments to your diet. People often ask if nutri-tional supplements are necessary.The answer here is based on anindividual’s diet, training intensity and goals.If you are eating a well-balanced diet,supplyling all the nutrients your body needsthrough food, and your level of training ac-tivity is such that you never deplete certainnutrients, you may find that supplements arenot necessary. However, many people,whether they are eating healthy or not, donot receive all the nutrients necessary tosupport intense training and growth. Andthat extends all the way to the bodybuilder,whose nutritional needs far exceed those ofthe average, sedentary person. So supple-ments can be used to prevent deficiencies inthe diet. But there is still another level ofsupplementation. That is, are supplementsrequired to achieve optimal results? Aresupplements needed to reach your ultimatepotential? The answer to this question formost hard-training athletes is yes!Few bodybuilders (if any) make it to anadvanced level without using nutritionalsupplements. They can’t afford not to. Let’sface it, if two men eat the same diet and trainthe same way, but one of them enriches thenutrient density of his diet by adding highquality supplements, which one do you thinkwill get better results?
When you’re trainingthat hard and that much, you’re really push-ing your body to it’s limit. The goal in train-ing is to apply a maximum stress, so thatyour body is forced to adapt and grow. Thiskind of training pushes your recovery abil-ity to its limit, and your ability to recover iswhat determines how fast you can grow. Restand nutrition are what your body needs torecover from intense workouts. Supplementsallow you to increase the cellular levels ofnutrients beyond what can be obtained fromwhole foods alone. Supplements are simplyultra-concentrated nutrients, and addingthem to a healthy diet of natural foods in-creases the nutrient density of your diet. Itmakes sense that increasing the amount ofnutrients delivered to your muscles will helpthem recover and grow faster.When I started putting together my for-mulas for supplements, I conducted my ownexperiments with bodybuilders and otherathletes. During this experimentation pro-cess we introduced certain nutrients into theathletes’ diet, then pulled them back out, allthe while noting the action and reaction thishad in their training and physique. This ishow I found out what worked and whatdidn’t in competitive athletes.
Nothing fancy,just simple trial and error. But by trying dif-ferent combinations of nutrients, we wereable to optimize the formulas for maximumeffect in lean muscle mass.To incorporate supplements into yourdiet, Essential Vitamin Formula™ and Min-eral-Electrolyte Formula™ are the startingpoint. My vitamin and mineral formula is theonly one designed to be taken at each meal.One reason I did it this way is very simple:Since you need the vitamins and minerals toassist and control the molecular processesassociated with metabolizing and synthesiz-ing food, it only makes sense that you pro-vide those vitamins and minerals with thefood you are eating. Makes sense, right?Another reason I did it that way was be-cause the water soluble vitamins (the Bgroup and vitamin C) are excreted from yourbody in your urine within 3-4 hours after youtake them, so levels drop back down again.By taking vitamins with each meal, this pro-vides a more steady and constant bloodlevel. It also ensures you’ll have all the vita-mins around you need to help incorporatedietary protein into new muscle tissue aftereach meal. This makes more sense to me thantaking a huge dose of vitamins every morn-ing and excreting most of them by noon. EachMineral-Electrolyte™ tablet contains 250 mgof calcium per tablet, so that by taking four aday you can meet the RDA for calcium. Ialso fortified my vitamins with large amountsof the anti-oxidants: vitamin C, vitamin E, andbeta-carotene.
These seem to help aid re-covery by neutralizing free radicals (reactiveoxygen species) generated during exercise.Free radicals are reactive molecules contain-ing oxygen, which can damage cells and pro-tein molecules. The anti-oxidant vitamins pre-vent this damage by binding to and neutral-izing the free radicals. Each Parrillo EssentialVitamin tablet has 500 mg vitamin C, 200 IUvitamin E, and 5,000 IU beta-carotene. EachMineral tablet contains 25 mcg chromiumpicolinate to stabilize blood sugar and opti-mize insulin function. Again, it makes moresense to take a small dose of chromium witheach meal instead one big dose once a day.Of course, our Formulas contain a completeand balanced array of all the other vitaminsand minerals your body needs for optimumhealth and maximum gains.The core supplements on the ParrilloNutrition program are vitamins and miner-als, CapTri®, Hi-Protein Powder™, and Pro-Carb™. These are the most important onesfor gaining lean mass. Liver-Amino For-mula™ could probably fit into this group aswell, but is not a major source of calories.Let’s talk about how to incorporate theseinto your diet.CapTri® is a remarkable supplement andshould be at the center of any bodybuilder’ssupplement program, whether you’re tryingto gain lean mass or lose body fat.
Think ofCapTri® as a source of pure energy—calo-ries. The special thing about it is that it’s used immediately by the body as a preferredsource of energy and has almost no ten-dency to be stored as body fat. It’s a way(and probably the only way) you can greatlyincrease your caloric intake without riskinggetting fat. That is, of course, if the rest ofyour diet is good. CapTri® is absorbed bythe body and burned for energy almost in-stantly—faster, in fact, than glucose (1).Since it’s converted into energy so rapidly ithas virtually no tendency to contribute tobody fat stores. Here’s the deal: addingpounds of muscle mass to your body takescalories. You could supply the extra caloriesfrom regular foods, such as complex carbsand lean proteins. And this will work, butthe problem is regular foods are more proneto be stored as fat than CapTri® is. So byincreasing calories from regular food you canadd muscle mass, but you’re more likely toput on fat at the same time. CapTri® itself isnot converted to muscle—that’s not what’shappening. How it works is CapTri® sup-plies the energy your body needs to func-tion and the energy cost required to buildmore muscle. The protein foods that you eatsupply the raw materials (amino acids) thatare used to build new muscle. CapTri®spares the oxidation of amino acids, mean-ing that it blocks the use of proteins as fuel(2).
This helps dietary protein be incorpo-rated into muscle tissue more efficiently, aswell as having an anti-catabolic effect toblock muscle breakdown. The net result ofincreasing calories in this way is more musclemass, without the increase in fat that comesfrom eating an excess of regular food. Whathappens if you eat too much CapTri®? Theexcess energy gets converted to body heatinstead of being stored as fat. Also, excesscalories from CapTri® can be lost as ketonebodies in the urine, something that doesn’thappen with regular food. Start by addingone-half tablespoon of CapTri® directly toyour food at each meal. Every three days,increase your intake by another one-halftablespoon, until you’re gaining weight. In-creasing the amount of CapTri® graduallyhelps avoid an upset stomach, which canoccur because CapTri® is digested so rap-idly. Usually between one and three table-spoons per meal works well for most ath-letes, although some use as much as five orsix.How can a supplement so rich in calo-ries help you lose body fat? Simple. To useCapTri® while dieting replace some of yourcarbohydrate calories with an equivalentamount of calories from CapTri®. CapTri®contributes less to body fat stores than doescarbohydrate, because it’s immediately con-verted to energy without being stored bythe body (1,2). Metabolically speaking, thisis called the thermogenic effect. Every timeyou eat, some of the food energy is con-verted to heat.
The more energy that’s lostas heat, the less there is remaining to bestored as fat. Conventional fats found inregular food are not converted to heat muchat all, and that’s why they contribute to bodyfat stores so much. About 3% of the caloriesin regular fat is lost as heat. About 15% ofthe energy from carbs is converted directlyto heat, and about 20-30% of the energy indietary protein is lost as heat. CapTri® hasthe most profound thermogenic effect of anyfood known, so it’s basically all burned forenergy. You may be wondering, if this stuffis just converted into energy and lost asbody heat, isn’t that a waste? Why not justeat less food? Two reasons. Eating less foodwill help you lose weight, but a significantproportion of it will be muscle mass. Also,decreasing calories slows down your meta-bolic rate, so you burn less calories, whichmeans burning less body fat. The ther-mogenic (heat-producing) effect we justtalked about actually works to increase yourmetabolic rate so you’ll burn fat faster. Plus,as mentioned above, it blocks protein break-down so you won’t lose muscle while you’relosing fat. Of course, not all of the energy inCapTri® is lost as body heat—most of it isused to fuel activity and maintenance of thebody. The point is, the energy from CapTri®is more prone to be used as body heat (en-ergy) than are the calories from regular food,which is why CapTri® is less prone to beretained as body fat than regular food. Add-ing CapTri® to your diet increases the ther-mogenic effect of feeding (TEF), and if you’reproducing more energy, you have a highermetabolic rate.
And if you increase yourmetabolic rate, your body needs more en-ergy, so it burns more body fat. By incorpo-rating CapTri® into your diet, you’re reduc-ing what is called the “food efficiency” ofyour diet, which is the proportion of dietaryenergy available for retention as bodyweight. The CapTri® diet helps you lose fatbecause more of your dietary calories arelost as heat, causing your body to draw onfat stores as fuel. Cutting calories alsocauses your body to draw on it’s fat storesfor fuel, but this approach leads to muscleloss and slows down your metabolic rate,which slows down fat loss. CapTri® shiftsyour metabolism into a fat-burning modewithout cutting calories and slowing yourmetabolism. Many bodybuilders go onCapTri® to lose body fat and are surprisedto find they actually gain muscle at the sametime. The last important reason why CapTri®helps you lose fat is that by substitutingCapTri® for carbs you decrease insulin lev-els. Insulin is released in response to carbo-hydrate feeding and blocks the breakdownof body fat. With CapTri® you can decreasecarbs to lower insulin levels and promotethe use of body fat as fuel without sacrific-ing your energy level and lowering yourmetabolic rate. You can learn more aboutregulating the Glucagon-Insulin ratio by con-sulting the Parrillo Sports Nutrition Guide.In the next bulletin, we’ll talk more aboutthe benefits of supplements in your nutri-tion program.
1. Bach AC and Babayan VK. Mediumchain triglycerides: an update. Am. J. Clin.Nutr. 36: 950-962, 1982.
2. Babayan, Medium chain triglyceridesand structured lipids. Lipids 22: 417-420(1987).