EDITORS’ INTRODUCTION: What happens when you stop?
You’ve no doubt read plenty of articles and advertisements over the years in which a consumer who has used a sports nutrition supplement documents his/her results, sometimes in a “training journal” type of format. While this sort of information can be helpful to other consumers, also helpful would be to know what happens when someone stops using a particular supplement. Does he/she you lose his/her gains…or gain back the losses? What happens?
Let’s suppose that a young male gains an inch on his biceps while using an amino acid supplement and a housewife loses an inch off her hips while using a fat-burner. In an attempt to answer the question “What happens when you stop?”, each individual then stops using his/her chosen supplement for several weeks while holding everything else (e.g. diet, exercise) constant. The benefits gradually reverse: The man loses some biceps size. The woman’s waist thickens. Should this be regarded as a “bad” outcome? Quite the contrary, it is great news because it provides strong evidence that the supplement in question works and it is worth your time and money to continue using it.
This article is about a “stop test” that was performed by a consumer with over 20 years of experience in bodybuilding training and the use of sports nutrition supplements. “Stan B.” (his pseudonym) had previously used Beverly’s top-quality essential amino acid (EAA) formula, DENSITY, with outstanding results. To confirm that DENSITY was responsible, he stopped using it for 3 weeks. What happened? This article tells all.
The DENSITY “Stop Test”
by Stan B.
As a product tester for Beverly, I had recently tested DENSITY for a month. It seemed to accelerate my progress, providing benefits that included greater protection of lean body mass, increases in muscle density and definition, and improved well-being and overall mental functioning, among others (see side panel). I used no other supplements during the 1-month test period.
I say DENSITY seemed to accelerate my progress because I wasn’t 100% certain that it was the cause. While I was convinced enough to continue using it after the first month, something else could have been responsible for my results. The idea of confirming them by conducting a 3-week “stop test” came to me while discussing DENSITY with the owner of Beverly, Roger Riedinger. Roger has decades of experience in the supplement industry and a vise-like grasp of amino acid nutrition.
Roger and I were talking about what makes DENSITY so different from other amino acid formulas, many of which have come and gone from the sports nutrition marketplace. He remarked “I think [DENSITY] is a major underutilized supplement and it is without a doubt the best EAA tablet –quite possibly the only complete one—available. Our clients have consistently found that one of its prime benefits is that they retain muscle while on a fat-loss diet.”
DENSITY: Benefits & Explanations Below Stan B. lists some of the benefits he experienced while using DENSITY and proposes some explanations for them. Dual Anabolic/Anti-Catabolic: I eat a calorie-strict diet that puts me under constant threat of losing lean body mass. When I supplement with DENSITY, I not only retain more muscle, but I can actually gain it. Explanation: The DENSITY formula is complete with every EAA required to synthesize muscle protein, including leucine, a branched-chain amino acid that studies suggest can promote muscle retention on a low-calorie diet.*Enhancement of well-being and overall mental functioning: These benefits kicked in very quickly upon taking DENSITY for the first time. Explanation: DENSITY contains pharmaceutical-grade tryptophan which your brain cells can use to synthesize serotonin, a "feel good" neurotransmitter. Studies have shown that athletes perform better mentally when they supplement with EAA. *Healthier appetite: I experience a healthier sense of appetite and less hunger while using DENSITY. Explanation: Diets high in amino acids including those found in DENSITY have been suggested to activate cellular signaling mechanisms controlling food intake. The "Pre-DENSITY" Program DENSITY: Benefits & Explanations (cont’d); Muscle Density & Definition: While using DENSITY my muscles appear denser. Explanation: All other things held constant, the more protein your muscle cells contain, the denser and more defined they will appear to the naked eye.
I’ve been training as a bodybuilder and using sports nutrition supplements since 1987. I stay lean (less than 9% body fat) year-round. My program consists of lifting weights 5 days a week, doing minimal cardio and eating what I refer to as a “calorie-strict” diet. This means that I eat just enough calories to maintain my body weight, which is about 200 pounds. Of course, unless you eat exactly the same meals and perform the same amount of exercise each day, some days you will end up eating what is a sub-maintenance quantity of calories. This puts you at considerable risk of losing lean body mass, which consists principally of muscle. Since I don’t have a lot of fat to spare, my muscle is therefore under constant threat of catabolism. One of the reasons I was so interested in testing DENSITY was that I was told it could provide protection of lean body mass while on a diet like mine.
I agreed with Roger that many athletes weren’t aware of the dual anabolic/anti-catabolic potential brewing inside each tablet of DENSITY. Like the clients he referred to, I, too, felt that I had retained more muscle when I supplemented my diet with this product, which is why I continued using it after my 1-month test. In fact, I even gained muscle. As I stated above, however, I wasn’t 100% certain that DENSITY was the cause.
A few minutes after our discussion it occurred to me that, at least to my knowledge, no sports nutrition supplement company had ever publically advertised what happens when a consumer stops using one of its products. “Why? What were they afraid of?” I asked myself.
The reality is that nothing is permanent in life. It should come as no surprise that if you stop lifting weights, eating, breathing, or taking supplements, you will eventually lose the benefits provided by these things. I call this the “stop-loss rule”: The only way to stop the losses is to resume using the supplement in question.
Consider a creatine supplement. Ingesting it on a regular basis will increase the amount of creatine stored inside your muscles and other tissues. This may lead to increases in lean body mass and strength. Once you withdraw it from your diet, the extra creatine in your tissues will be broken down and excreted. Any gains in lean body mass or strength caused by the extra creatine will therefore fade. It may take a few weeks, but it will eventually happen.
In short, the supplement “stop-loss” rule should be common sense. Why isn’t it? Perhaps it is so implicitly obvious that it slides outside of conscious awareness and is forgotten about.
DENSITY is said to be a very powerful EAA formula –quite possibly the most powerful (and complete) of its kind in the sports nutrition marketplace. Regardless, no supplement is immune to the stop-loss rule anymore than is eating or breathing. I wanted to be certain that DENSITY was responsible for the even greater progress that I experienced upon supplementing my diet and training program with it. Hence the idea of a 3-week stop test.
“3 Weeks without DENSITY”
Why 3 weeks? Simply stated, I believed that 3 weeks would give me adequate time to draw a firm conclusion about the power of DENSITY. I didn’t want to stop using it any longer than necessary. If the results of my test were “positive”, then I could simply get back on it. No worries.
“Get back on it” is exactly what I ended up doing. Below I summarize the results of my test:
↓ The first day without DENSITY was fine for the most part. My quality of sleep suffered slightly that night, but this could have been due to anything. When it occurred four nights in a row, on the other hand, I started to wonder.
↓ On the Friday of the first week I noticed that my sense of well-being and overall mental functioning had lost a bit of their shine. It was as if the “dimmer switch” controlling my mood and mental energy had been turned down a notch or two since withdrawing DENSITY from my program.
↓ On the Thursday of the second week my girlfriend took some photographs of me. We both noticed that my muscles weren’t as sharp as they were while I was on DENSITY. “You still look great!” she enthused. Indeed, by normal standards my body did look great. But by my standards –bodybuilding standards—something was wrong. I couldn’t attribute this to a loss or gain of body weight or the dimensions of my muscles, since neither had changed. Whatever was to blame, my muscles just didn’t look as dense or defined. This made them appear smaller.
↓ It took me until the Monday of the third week to see my strength and energy levels suffer. Beyond this point I saw no further deterioration of my physique or performance. I had, however, drawn a firm conclusion: It was time to get back on DENSITY. Early in the morning on the day that marked the end of my 3-week stop test, I happily swallowed 5 tablets of this proven EAA formula with a refreshing glass of cold water. Less than 14 days later I had already seen a reversal of the numerous muscular “fortunes” I had gained while using DENSITY.
The DENSITY Phenomenon: Explanations
Like many other athletes, I’ve tried amino acid formulas in the past and failed to notice any positive benefits. What made DENSITY work for me? Below I provide some possible explanations based on discussions with Roger Riedinger, Beverly’s research and development scientists, and published scientific studies on amino acid nutrition.
“Full Spectrum”, “Broad Spectrum” –these and similar terms can be found on the labels of some amino acid supplements. What do they actually mean? Or are they supposed to be ambiguous?
The term you need to be most concerned with is “complete”, which we shall define here without any ambiguity. An amino acid formula is complete when it provides all essential amino acids (EAA). The EAA are so-named because they must be provided in your diet. Your body can’t make them in sufficient quantities, if it is able to make any of them at all. [NOTE: Scientists sometimes refer to essential amino acids as “nutritionally indispensable”.]
Eight amino acids are considered essential in the diet (or nutritionally indispensable) for healthy adult humans, and DENSITY contains every one of them. Because it is complete, you can supplement your meals with DENSITY in order to better ensure that all amino acids are present in sufficient quantities to maximize muscle protein anabolism, or in between meals in order to prevent muscle amino acid levels from falling too low (possibly resulting in runaway catabolism).
At least within bodybuilding circles, leucine may be one of the best-known EAA. However, it isn’t the only EAA with anabolic powers. Let’s take a look at some of the others:
↑ Tryptophan & Lysine: The neurotransmitter serotonin is derived exclusively from tryptophan. Serotonin affects mood, sensations of energy (or fatigue) and more. It is also a component of tissue proteins, including muscle protein. But can it actually stimulate protein synthesis like leucine does? In fact, more than 20 years ago researchers concluded that “…tryptophan has a hormone-like ability to promote protein synthesis…The current studies have shown the potential for tryptophan to regulate protein synthesis in muscle in a manner beyond simply serving as a component of protein.”2
Beverly stopped selling DENSITY in 1991 after tryptophan became unavailable. Beverly’s scientists felt so strongly about its importance that they refused to resume selling it until late 2007. That was when tryptophan became commercially available again. Beverly added a pharmaceutical-grade source of tryptophan to DENSITY, the purity of which they confirmed in numerous laboratory tests with high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC).
Studies performed in the 1950s by respected amino acid nutrition researcher Dr. William Rose highlighted the importance of tryptophan and lysine in maintaining nitrogen balance. He observed: “Nitrogen balance studies in normal young men have demonstrated that lysine and tryptophan are indispensable dietary components. The exclusion of either from the food is followed promptly by a pronounced negative nitrogen balance, which is relieved by the return to the diet of the missing amino acid.”7 Remember that a positive nitrogen balance promotes muscle growth, whereas a negative nitrogen balance can impede it.
Besides being a component of tissue proteins, lysine is used in the synthesis of carnitine. Supplementing the diet with lysine in healthy subjects has been shown to raise carnitine levels in only a few hours. Levels remain high for up to 3 days.1
↑ Threonine: Rose’s work also established that threonine is essential in the human diet: “In continuation of investigations designed to establish the amino acid requirements of human subjects, experiments have now shown that threonine is an indispensable dietary component. Its removal from the food induces a pronounced negative nitrogen balance, which is relieved by the return to the diet of the missing amino acid.”5
↑ Valine, Methionine, Isoleucine, Leucine & Phenylalanine: Here Rose speaks about the importance of these EAA in maintaining whole-body anabolism: “In earlier papers…evidence has been presented for the fact that valine, methionine… isoleucine, leucine, and phenylalanine are indispensable components of the diet of normal adult man. The removal from the food of any one of these amino acids induces a pronounced negative balance and is accompanied by a failure in appetite, a sensation of extreme fatigue, and an increase in nervous irritability. With the return to the diet of the missing amino acid, nitrogen equilibrium is reestablished promptly, and the subjective symptoms disappear.”6
When Rose and his colleagues fed subjects diets deficient in isoleucine, the results were extreme: “At the expiration of the 6th day, isoleucine was removed from the food and the other amino acids were increased sufficiently to maintain a constant total nitrogen intake. The effects were immediate and dramatic. On the next day the subjects showed [nitrogen] balances of -0.93 and -1.26 gm., respectively, and their nutritive status became worse as the deficiency was prolonged. On the 4th day of isoleucine deprivation, the output of nitrogen exceeded the intake by 3.79 and 3.90 gm. respectively. Both young men complained bitterly of a complete loss of appetite. Each experienced great difficulty in consuming his meals. Furthermore, the symptoms of nervousness, exhaustion, and dizziness, which are encountered to a greater or lesser extent whenever human subjects are deprived of an essential amino acid, were exaggerated to a degree not observed before or since in other types of dietary deficiencies, It became evident by the end of the 4th day that the subjects were approaching the limit of their endurance, and that the missing amino acid must be returned to the food without further delay.” (Rose et al., 193)
Methionine doesn’t get near the attention it deserves in bodybuilding circles. This is particularly ironic in light of its critical role in maintaining muscle mass. Besides being a component of muscle protein, methionine has what is referred to as a “labile methyl group”. A methyl group consists of a carbon atom to which is attached 3 hydrogen atoms. Methionine’s methyl group is "labile" in the sense that it can be transferred to other compounds. Transfer of methionine’s methyl group is required for your body to synthesize creatine, for instance. Over a quarter of a century ago, scientists proposed that the demand for labile methyl groups may actually exceed what can be supplied even by a “healthy” diet.3 Mudd and Poole explain: “Apparently, for normal humans, the demand for labile methyl groups is determined to a major extent by the requirement for [creatine synthesis.] …The result is to place upon the normal adult human a relatively large and inflexible demand for labile methyl groups. In males, with larger muscle masses, this demand by itself may outweigh the labile methyls absorbed from an ordinary diet.”
Some companies have developed amino acid formulas that are intended to match the exact amino acid composition of skeletal muscle. This approach is unlikely to work as intended. While muscle tissue represents a major component of your body’s total protein stores, it is not the only component. There is also skin, connective tissue, bone and more. When you supply your body with amino acids (whether by eating protein-containing foods or amino acid supplements), they are distributed to many tissues, including but not limited to muscle. For these and other complex biochemical reasons, Beverly’s scientists have determined that the best approach is to supply each EAA in adequate and equal quantities (“equal-dose”) so that your body can decide for itself how best to use them. This explains why each serving of DENSITY contains 500 mg of each EAA per serving.
Because it is complete with all the EAA, DENSITY can stimulate protein synthesis (anabolism) and reduce protein breakdown (catabolism). This dual approach to the regulation of protein turnover can support superior gains in lean body mass and muscle density and definition.
Tested and Reviewed for Safety and Purity
DENSITY contains pharmaceutical grade amino acids whose purity has been validated by laboratory tests. These tests also verify that it supplies each EAA in quantities that meet or exceed those listed on the label.
Beverly’s product users (e.g. Stan B.) confirm that DENSITY provides multiple physique and performance related benefits without any undesirable side effects.
Like any other substance, amino acids are subject to oxidation. Technically speaking, “oxidation” refers to the removal of electrons from a substance, and it is usually associated with degradation (e.g. iron rusting) or aging. The mere exposure of amino acids to air, which contains oxygen, can result in oxidation. This is because oxygen has a strong affinity for electrons.
To protect its precious amino acid payload from oxidative degradation during storage or upon being consumed, Beverly’s scientists have “coated” each serving of DENSITY in 50 IU of natural source vitamin E, which displays powerful anti-oxidation properties. [NOTE: Scientists are even studying the use of vitamin E supplements in livestock as a way of improving muscle quality.]
Ready for Absorption
The EAA in DENSITY are ready for absorption when you are. They spring into action the moment you swallow a tablet with water. It’s that simple to begin stimulating muscle protein synthesis, reducing protein catabolism and enhancing lean body mass and performance.
No Sweeteners, No Creatine
Unlike many powdered amino acid formulas, DENSITY does not contain added sweeteners, nor does it contain creatine. If you are sensitive to either of these ingredients, or for any other reason choose to avoid them, you have no need to avoid using DENSITY.
At a little over a quarter per tablet, DENSITY provides what is perhaps the most cost-effective and complete EAA formula available anywhere.
DENSITY: The Best EAA formula available?
My conclusion is that DENSITY is indeed the best EAA formula in the sports nutrition marketplace. A 3-week stop test was more than enough to convince me that it was single-handedly responsible for accelerating my progress during the month that I had recently tested it for Beverly, as well as the period of time I continued using it afterwards.
Particularly when following a “calorie-strict” or low-calorie diet like mine, I look at using DENSITY as being no different than buying insurance for a car, for instance. Taking it several times each day gives me the extra protection of lean body mass I need while walking that very fine line between maintaining low body fat and experiencing run-away catabolism.
It is important to emphasize that besides helping me to hold onto more muscle, DENSITY actually made it possible for me to gain muscle. The latter is often considered impossible on a low-calorie diet. DENSITY also gave me a healthier sense of appetite while reducing hunger and improving my energy, mood and overall mental performance.
My “3 weeks without DENSITY” won’t be the last supplement “stop test”. But it will be my last such test involving DENSITY. Since re-introducing it to my training and diet program, I haven’t stopped it again. And the benefits continue to appear as each day unfolds.
1. Khan-Siddiqui and Bamji (1983). Am J Clin Nutr, 37: 93.
2. Lin et al. (1988). J Nutr, 118(4): 445.
3. Mudd and Pool
(1975). Metabolism, 24: 721.
4. Norton et al. (2009). J Nutr, 139(6): 1103.
5. Rose et al. (1951). J Biol Chem, 188(1): 49.
6. Rose et al. (1951). J Biol Chem, 193(2): 605.
7. Rose et al. (1954). J Biol Chem, 206(1): 421.