Thursday, February 13, 2014

Ammonia buildup and fatigue

All athletes long to be their best whether it's for personal goals or driven by competition. Sometimes correcting small details in training and nutrition can make a surprisingly big difference. Currently, ammonia buildup during workouts or competing is getting more attention these days. High ammonia levels are a toxic by-product that accumulates during intense exercise and is a primary factor in fatigue.

All anaerobic and endurance exercise produces ammonia, from an endurance standpoint the longer you exercise the more ammonia you produce. Science still doesn’t understand how much it contributes to fatigue, but it does know that the higher your blood ammonia the more it affects your performance. Ammonia inhibits the energy cycle by affecting the formation of glycogen. It also affects brain function and interferes with your focus.

Many individuals take in levels of protein prior to workouts but many proteins contain glutamine including whey protein. Glutamine, while an excellent ammonia scavenger, should be only taken after workouts not prior or during. Glutamine will initially elevate ammonia when metabolized but then scavenges it to a lower level. It could take 3 or more hours for this process to occur. You don't want to elevate ammonia levels at all when exercising, so watch your proteins prior to training. You should note if your working out for over 90 - 120 minutes you need to add some protein into the fuel mix, as up to 15% of you energy needs comes from protein. Just make sure it does not have any added glutamine, and if it does use it after exercise for recovery. Another nutrient called OKG (ornithine alpha-ketoglutarate) is getting serious attention by professionals in sports nutrition these days. While the actual biochemistry is complicated OKG provides a rapid, non-ammonia-producing source of glutamine in the body and is a very effective ammonia scavenger. It is anti-catabolic, a good source of arginine and supports the immune system.

I've always been somewhat skeptical of supplement claims because of the profit incentive of some companies but I've been using OKG for over a year now. I have no real concrete evidence to prove anything; all I can say is how I felt using it, compared to not using it. On the days that I’ve used it I seem to have a strong second, then third wind of endurance. It's proven to be very consistent in my findings. More companies are including it in their supplement line such as Hammer nutrition and GU's new version of Roctane. 2 companies I do respect for their products. As for side effects, it's been taken in levels of 10g per day for as long as six weeks without reported side effects. The only side effect that has been reported is diarrhea in dosages above 15g per day.

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