Sometimes we are all our own worst enemy… we know how to make the right choices for our health, performance, etc but let other things get in the way. As many of you know, I spend most of my day working for a small biotech company in New Hampshire, trying to develop drugs for cancer and autoimmunity. I also coach multiple Crossfit classes a week, consult people nutritionally for Crossfit, marathons, weight loss, life as a Navy Seal, etc. Needless to say it’s a lot but no more than most people deal with in reality. We’re all busy and all have stress in our lives. Where I become my own worst enemy is when I try to train like a freaking pro-athlete on top of all the other work. I can handle it for a while but the overall stress has run me down a couple times in the past to the point of needing a complete break from training…
I’ve tried some supplements in the past to extend how far I can push. BCAA’s and creatine were a big help. Adding in dense starchy foods was another step in the right direction. Overall, I still wasn’t feeling quite right though, so I started to play with adaptogens, which are supplements that are supposed to help correct hormonal imbalances related to stress. Ultimately I decided to try a new supplement from Nova 3 Labs called Max Adrenal. The purpose of Max Adrenal is to help the body maintain the appropriate response to exercise by helping the body to produce the correct hormonal response to exercise. In a person who has pushed the gas pedal too hard for too long, the body sometimes stops making the appropriate amounts of cortisol, DHEA, testosterone, etc… Max Adrenal’s goal is to help restore some hormonal balance OR to prevent you from getting out of whack in the first place.
Mike Kesthely, creator of Max Adrenal, was kind enough to send me a list of links for every single ingredient that is in his product (there are many). I’ll list them at the bottom of this post for anyone that wants to have a look through the research. Overall, I was pretty impressed by the background that went into the selection of supplements in the product. Many solid studies with well controlled experiments… something that cannot be said for all products in this market.
After taking Max Adrenal solidly for 1 month solidly these are the biggest differences I’ve noticed:
1) Deeper sleep with less frequent disruptions in the last 2 hours of sleep (4am-6am).
2) Fewer days where I have absolutely zero energy to train and have to call it a day before even getting started. It still happens, but not as often.
3) More energy from 2pm-6pm on a daily basis with less of an afternoon wall. This generally correlates with the post workout for me as well. I used to just be an absolute zombie after working out, but its much less of an issue now.
4) Falling asleep much more easily.
5) Improved quality and consistency in the fast lifts. I still have days where I just cannot get myself firing correctly (like today) but overall this has been happening less than usual despite pushing harder. Recently, I hit 5 out of 7 snatches at 215 after a solid back squat session. I can’t give all the credit to Max Adrenal, but I do feel like it was part of the process in making progress.
Now, I’m not saying that Max Adrenal is a wonder drug. You’ve still got to be smart and take care of the other aspects of your life; meaning eat cleanly and the appropriate amount, take rest days and get enough sleep to recover from your workouts. Manage the other stress in your life as best as you can. What I will say though is that Max Adrenal has let me push that gas pedal harder and longer than I’ve been able to in the past. I’m looking forward to getting my next shipment soon.
Vitamin A: required for the conversion of cholesterol to steroid hormones
Vitamin C: The highest concentrations of vitamin C reside in the eyes, brain and adrenal glands; stress,infection and intense exercise all increase the cellular demand for vitamin C, with studies showing how blood levels of ascorbic acid fall at an increased rate during these time
Thiamine (B1), Riboflavin (B2), Pyridoxine (B6), Pantothenic Acid (B5): All B vitamins are essential in the Kreb’s cycle for conversion of fat, carbs and protein to energy. Specific to the adrenal cascade, pantothenic acid is required for the production of co-enzyme-A, which is essential for the creation of acetylcholine and pregnenolone. Thiamine is used in the biosynthesis of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). Riboflavin, key in the citric acid cycle, is also a cofactor in the utilization of B6 in the creation of neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine.
Zinc: Zinc is an essential trace element required for the activity of over 300 enzymes and is involved in most major metabolic pathways. Zinc participates not only in catalytic processes, but also in the structure and stability of some regulatory proteins, as is essential for immune support and testosterone production. Training reduces levels through metabolic use and sweat loss.
Adrenal/Spleen Extract: Clinical experience has long endorsed the use of glandular extracts to support the activity of the target gland. Glandulars provide peptides and nutrient cofactors which are found in the gland itself when it is healthy and fully functioning, and which are required for the gland to carry out its biological functions. A highly active mineralocorticoid, aldosterone, 19-hydroxy-11-desoxycorticosterone and a sodium-retaining substance have all been isolated from beef adrenal extract. Despite the widespread belief that such peptide cofactors would be destroyed by the digestive process, it’s now known the main route of absorption of amino acids is, in fact, by active transport in the form of peptides, rather than by totally breaking down proteins into individual amino acids. Evidence has also accumulated that many surprisingly large polypeptides and even proteins are directly absorbed by the gut.
DL-Phenylalanine: DLPA is a depression fighting mixture that combines two forms of the amino acid, phenylalanine. The L-portion of phenylalanine, found in protein-rich foods, bolsters mood-elevating chemicals in the brain, specifically dopamine and nor-epinephrine, while The “D” form of phenylalanine is made synthetically in a laboratory. The mechanism of DL-phenylalanine’s supposed antidepressant activity may be accounted for by the precursor role of L-phenylalanine in the synthesis of the neurotransmitters norepinephrine and dopamine.
L-Tyrosine: One of the 22 amino acids used in the formation of neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine. It is also involved in the formation of thyroid hormones like triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). Supplementation has shown greater efficacy to reduce perception of stress while under stress.
Rhodiola Rosea: is a potent adaptogen that has been the focus of much research. Rhodiola provides a buffer to stress-related mental and physical fatigue. Rhodiola contains a glycoside known as salisdroside. This component helps combat anxiety and aging, and has been investigated for use in high-altitude sickness, as it modulates EPO gene expression. Rhodiola suppresses the production of cortisol and increases levels of stress-resistant proteins. Studies have found that it restores normal patterns of eating and sleeping after stress, & combats mental and physical fatigue by affecting RPE (perception to STRESS).
L-Methionine: Methionine belongs to a group of compounds called lipotropics which help the liver to process fat in the body. Once in the liver, methionine is converted into SAM(s-adenosyl methionine); SAMe is known to have a high degree of efficacy in treating various forms of depression. Methionine also converts the stronger and carcinogenic estradiol (E2) into estriol (E3) which is the “good” estrogen as compared to estradiol; imbalance is common in various form of adrenal dysfunction. Methionine supports methylation pathways, which facilitate the conversion of norepinephrine to epinephrine, essential in the adrenal cascade.
Octocasonol: The main component of policosanol, a lipophilic component derived from Cuban cane sugar. While initial studies concentrated on it’s ability to affect cholesterol levels, it also has positive neurological effects specific to reaction time and Ach (acetylcholine) release.
Schisandra Chinensis: A vine native to northern China and Eastern Russia, commonly known as Wu Wei Zi, or “Five flavor berry”. Much of the research that ahs been done on Schisandra Chinesis was done in Russia decades ago, hence the popularity with Eastern European athletes. Noted is the ability to both raise and lower cortisol in response to stressors.
Bacopa Monnieri: Bacopa (aka Brahmi) is an Indian Ayurvedic herb noted for its use as a nootropic, or “mental focusing & memory enhancing” agent, and also acts protectively in neurodegeneration. It appears to work through enhancing synaptic transmission, and also acts as an anti-oxidant, hence the protective effects.
Eleutherococcus senticosus: Commonly known as Siberian Ginseng or in Chinese medicine Ci Wu Ju. Although it is not related to true ginseng (Panax ginseng), the name Siberian ginseng became popular based on potential properties similar to Panax ginseng. This adaptogenic herb has both properties of increasing work capacity and immunity. Increased work capacity is thought to be due to increased oxygen efficiency through FFA use. Immunomodulating polysaccharides or saponins isolated from Siberian ginseng stimulate macrophages, promoted antibody formation, activated complement, and increased T lymphocyte proliferation.
Magnolia Officinalis: Another herb traditional used in Chinese medicine; the bark contains the polyphenolic compounds honokiol and magnolol, which have been found to have neuroprotective and anxiolytic activity, the latter of which is due to the effect on GABA receptors and the attenuation of cortisol-induced stress perception.
Rehmannia Glutinosia: Also known as Yukmijihwang-tang or Chinese foxglove; it contains vitamins A, B, C, and D, as well as the active component catalpol. Regarded as a tonic herb and used in TCM for centuries, current well-controlled human data is still lacking. That said, it shows promise as a neuro- protecting agent as well as a nootropic.
Bupleurum Falcatum: Commonly known as Chinese Thoroughwax, it has been traditionally used to treat disorders of inflammation. One of the active components are saikosaponins; their metabolites have been shown to induce corticosterone activity, hence it use as an adrenal tonic in TCM. It also shows serotonergic and noradrenergic activity, and therefore used as an anti-depressant.
Panax Ginseng: Also known as Red or Korean ginseng (not to be confused with Siberian). The predominant pharmacologically active constituents of Panax are ginsenosides; at least 25 of which have been identified and are present in variable amounts and ratios, depending on the particular species. One of the most studies herbal adaptogens in history, its efficacy in treating fatigue, mood, immune system and adrenal issues is second to none.
Plectranthus Barbatus (Forskolii): Better known as Coleus Forskoli, the active component tis forskolin, which stimulates the cellular production of cAMP. When cAMP increases, a wide range of signaling properties can occur because of it. While much research has ben done on upregulation of cAMP and fat loss, recent research suggests that cAMP affects the function of higher-order thinking in the prefrontal cortex through its regulation of ion channels. Much of the marketed focus has been on the ability to increase testosterone, which plays an integral role in the treatment of adrenal dysfunction.
Withania Somnifera: Another Ayurvedic herb, Ashwagandha, aka Indian Ginseng, rivals that of Panax. Ginseng in the amount of positive data available. It shows adaptogenic properties both in attenuating stress perception, altering cortisol, and increasing TTE (time to exhaustion) in trained athletes. The potentially active constituents of ashwagandha include alkaloids and steroidal lactones that together are called withanolides (particularly withaferin A), and preparations are often standardized to their percentage contents of withanolides.