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The Fit 5: Supplements

What you want to know about today's popular sports nutrition supplements and products.

For all of our fans who shoot us questions on our Facebook page, this one is for you. Each week, we will tap into our pool of editors and experts to help with any questions or challenges you are having with your fitness regimen.

This week, Sean Hyson C.S.C.S., Group Training Director for Muscle & Fitness and Men's Fitness magazines, answers questions about the most popular supplements in the industry.

Be sure to read up on all of Sean’s articles here on MensFitness.com or in Men’s Fitness and Muscle & Fitness magazines each month.

You can also catch Sean on Twitter

1) Protein Shakes — asked by Dave Welbourne

When's the best time to take protein—before or after my workout?

“Before and after would be ideal. How much really depends on yours goals and when you’re training, but a small meal beforehand (eggs and oats) or a shake (pure whey protein) and then a shake again afterward mixed with carbs will keep your muscles flooded with protein for a quicker recovery.”

2) Creatine and Fat Burning — asked by Tivan Cowan

If my goal is to maintain mass, but limit mass building while burning fat, is creatine a good or bad idea?

"Creatine is fine to use when dieting. It may help you retain muscle better. The only way you’d gain significant muscle mass, with or without creatine, is if you were eating excess calories. If you’re trying to get lean, building muscle certainly won’t be easy."

3) Loading Phases — asked by Eric Warren Reifsnyder

Is there a loading phase with all supplements?

"Creatine is the only major supplement I know of that is associated with a specific loading phase, but read the directions for whatever product you’re taking to see what is recommended. The standard prescription for creatine loading is 20 grams a day for five days and then five grams per day for maintenance. This, however, is controversial, and depending on the manufacturer of the product you choose or which studies you’ve read, it may not be necessary to load."

4) Protein Latte — asked by Kenny Lucas

I like mixing my morning coffee with my chocolate whey protein. Does the heat affect the protein?

"According to M&F nutrition expert John Kiefer, whey protein can denature when exposed to high temperatures for prolonged periods. Temperatures above 160 degrees Fahrenheit will cause whey protein powders to break down, but unless you repeatedly nuke your coffee to keep it hot, the effect won’t be significant. Cooking with protein powder, when the heat is more direct and longer lasting, is more detrimental. In short, it’s OK to mix protein in coffee. In fact, I like to make an ice coffee shake—pour the coffee into a shaker cup along with a few ice cubes and chocolate protein powder. The ice will cool it down fast."

5) Branched Chain Amino Acids — asked by Ken Kollock Jr.

Are BCAAs important?

“Think of BCAA’s (branched-chain amino acids) as a faster-acting protein powder. There’s research that suggests you can use them in place of carbs in your protein shake because they get digested so fast they spike insulin. So on top of providing amino acids the muscles need for repair, they can transport themselves into your muscles as well. The most powerful branched-chain amino seems to be leucine, which activates a number of muscle growth signals. You can supplement with BCAAs or leucine specifically."

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