The psychology of pain


The Torah tells us the two most powerful and underlying emotions in a human being are pain and pleasure – fear and love. “Keep away from bad, do good, seek peace and pursue it.” Mysticism tells us, “Fear and love are two wings” that lift the bird. In any and every decision we make, these two values are at the root and foundation of our choices.

If any relationship is to fly, we must balance and find peace between these two emotions, fear and love. The things that bring pain to the relationship, we fear.  It is this fear that will keep us from doing those things that harm the relationship. The love in the relationship motivates to do those things that intensify and bring enjoyment to the relationship.

The story in the Bible of the evil Pharaoh and his bad behavior which was sabotaging himself, his people and his slaves is a classic lesson in human behavior and is therefore part of our eternal Torah. Learning the lesson helps us identify these traits in people. Knowing the pattern hopefully helps us avoid these problems to begin with.

First, Pharaoh refused to listen to Moses and his brother Aaron to let the Israelites free. He was in denial that G-d was not happy with him and therefore he was not behaving right.  Pharaoh was finally moved from that position to acknowledge there is a problem and these people should be let free.

Pharaoh kept on promising he would let his slaves free, with some conditions. His resolve to change was not yet total and complete and he retained some strings attached to his bad ways.  Although the actual shift from bad to good can be in an instant, it must be however a complete turnaround retaining no attachments to the old ways. If the person still entertains thoughts of pleasure and affection to his bad habits and is not fully disgusted by the “old ways” they retain their hold on him.

Therefore even when Pharaoh promised and said, he would let the people go, at the last minute he always had a change of heart.  He was full of remorse and regrets. His bad habits got the better of him and again and again he would relapse back to his old ways.

It was only after being afflicted by ten plagues the Egyptians finally got the message they needed to change.  They did have the chance to avoid all that strife and damage to themselves but unfortunately many people, unless they actually hit rock bottom they find it difficult to take charge and change course.

According to Mysticism, rewards and punishments in the Torah are a direct result of the choices we make. G-d commands us what to keep away from and what to do, “to improve the world - with the blessings and shine of G-dliness.’  “For our own sake.”  When we wash our hands coming out of the bathroom, or rest once a week on Sabbath, or start and end the day with a prayer, and all that we are commanded to do, the good that comes as a reward are direct outcomes and effects of the proper G-dly and goodly behavior.

G-d made man in His own image. In order for G-d to create the world G-d decided to create ten different tools with which to make a finite world out of His own G-dly infinity. Wisdom, understanding, love, kindness, severity, judgment, compassion, bonding and nurturing are some of the tools G-d used to make this world.

Because the Egyptians perverted the character of bonding and intimacy within the human existence this spiritual defect gave birth to one of the ten plagues. 

Every plague of the ten, is an outgrowth of the corrupted behavior that encompassed the entire spectrum of their existence. Only after suffering the results of their bad choices they finally came to terms with the need to change and that is when “the children of Israel went out with an outstretched arm.”


So, how's your first month in 2013 readers? I feel so bad for the terrible incident of Jakarta's sudden flood happened a few days ago. My heart goes to all the victims & family, and I'm so thankful for the volunteers risking their own lives to survive people and even abandoned pets in flood location, that means the world to us. According to the weather forecast, there will still be huge amount of rain until next week. I almost got stucked inside the car in 60-80 cm flood on the way home and that was quite an unpleasant experience for this month. I definitely will stay at home and wait for the traffic to get better. Be safe on the road, people!

Anyway here's one unpublished post I took a few days ago. I received a studded collar shirt & vintage satin jacket both from SheInside. I love the rad black leopard print on the jacket! you can simply click on the links to shop. :)

white studded shirt & satin jacket by SheInside, Detroit baseball cap, Forever21 leather skirt, June & Julia shoes


A really lovely statement necklace from Antyk Butyk's new collection! :)

Arginine a BAT Building WAT Killer & Repartitioning Agent? Plus: The Arginine Enriched Biscuits Diet ;-)

Whenever the word "vascularity" appears on one of the boards, this image pops up. Now we know that arginine alone won't make your veins pop, but could it be that we have hitherto overlooked that it could help you meet another more important criteria to look like that - namely to drop body fat?
In a 2012 paper Mohammad Alizadeh and his colleagues published a paper in the Annals of Nutrition & Metbabolism. The paper deals with the effects of the addition of 5g/day l-arginine to hypocaloric diets in a group of 84 premenopausal women, where the supplement regimen led to significantly greater reductions in visceral obesity (8cm vs. just 4cm reduction in waist circumference within 6 weeks; cf. Alizadeh. 2012). I filed the paper in my "candidates" folder and forgot about it - simply too much interesting news to cover everything.

Now, almost a year later, Lucilla D. Monti et al. have published yet another paper on l-arginine in the latest issue of the scientific journal Metabolism (Monti. 2013). "A pilot study in healthy subjects and a cross-over study in subjects with impaired glucose tolerance and metabolic syndrome" as the title tells us and reason enough for me to take another look at an amino acid that has gotten sort of a bad rep as a supplemental non-starter, because the marketing machinery of the bodybuilding supplement producer has been pimping it as an "nitric oxide (NO) booster" (which is similar to saying that bricks were 'house builders' by the way).

Arginine cookies the saviors of the human race!?

Just so there is no misunderstanding here, while arginine may be more useful as a weight loss tool (esp. for the insulin resistant), it is neither an NO booster, nor a fat burner in the sense that it would "actively" do anything to elicit the named effects. The additional 4cm the arginine stripped off the waists of the initially mentioned ~28-44year-old women, for example, occurred in the context of a diet containing 500kcal less than the baseline diet (that's about -20% and the average subject ended up eating ~2000kcal/day).

Figure 1: As this illustration goes to show you, nitric oxide (NO) play and important role in the activation of PPAR-alpha and will thus determine (among other factors) if your immature fat cells become ugly passive and potentially health threatening stores or metabolically active brown adipose tissue (based on Wu. 2012).
Nevertheless, it is unquestionably interesting that Zhenlong Wu et al. remark in one of the more recent reviews on the fat loss effects of l-arginine that the inconspicuous nitric oxide precursor has the hardly known ability to
"increases mammalian BAT growth and development via mechanisms involving gene expression, nitric oxide signaling, and protein synthesis [, so that t]his enhances the oxidation of energy substrates and, thus, reduces white fat accretion in the body." (Wu. 2012)
Usually I would discard these effects as "most likely irrelevant for virtually BAT free mammals" like humans (even those among us with a "high" amount of brown adipose tissue have way less of it than the average "mammal" does; this is particularly true if you compare us to our small hairy mammalian brethren that are living in lab cages ;-).

With the positive effects that have already been observed in past human studies and the "growth promoting effect" arginine is supposed to have on mammalian brown adipose tissue (cf. figure 1), the potential weight loss and ensuing health benefits of the "conditionally essential" (meaning you must consume it in significant amounts under certain circumstances, like bein very sick, burned, hurt, etc. though your body can theoretically produce it on its own) amino acid appear to be well-worth being mentioned in a SuppVersity article again (again, because I already mentioned these effects as an aside in Part II of the Amino Acids for Super Humans Series back in 2011.

Back to the cookies then

After this lengthy general introduction, let's now finally have a look at the Monti study (Monti. 2013). Now, despite the auspicious term "pilot study" in the title of the Italian researcher latest paper, the idea to add some l-arginine to cookies, biscuits and other stuff is actually not really new. In 2011, already, he same research group has published a paper on this concept with initial data on the acute response to the ingestion of arginine enriched biscuits (see previous SuppVersity post). So, the "pilot trial" is actually nothing but a slightly revamped version of the initial test in 7 healthy subjects, plus a 2-week extension in which the scientists probed the effects of the chronic ingestion of their biscuits on 15 obese subjects (8 men, 7 women, aged 62.5±3.5years; BMI ~30kg/m²; 36% body fat) with impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) and metabolic syndrome (MS).
Figure 2: Weight loss, fat loss and insulin sensitivity (*I divided the actual values on the Matsuda index by 10 so that they would fit into the same graph), as well as glucose response during an OGGT (Monti. 2013)
While the results of the former trial were very similar to those in the pilot of the pilot study (see previous SuppVersity post), the data in figure 1 goes to show you that the "long-term" (14-days, with a wash out period of another 14 days and a cross-over afterwards, so that every subject was tested both for the effects of the placebo and the acuve treatment), were promising and statistically significant, but far from representing a solution to the diabesity epidemic.

During each of the two 14-day intervention periods, the obese volunteers had consumed identically packaged L-arginine-enriched biscuits containing 6.6g l-arginine, 21.9g carbohydrates (15g available
carbohydrates and 6.9g resistant starch), 3.6g protein, 7.5g fat or an isoenergetic biscuit without the 6.6g of l-arginine as morning and afternoon snack . The additional 171kcal provided by the biscuits were included in the daily allowance of the subjects who followed a 55% carbohydrate, 25%–30% fat and 15%–20% protein diet that contained a total of 1,600kcal during the whole 6-week study period (the study used a randomized cross over design with a 2-week washout in-between).

Let's get back to a more general perspective

Not just because I'd hope that most of you don't have just as much weight to lose as the participants of the Monti study, but also in view of statements like "[a]nother added value of the biscuit is the low protein content (6.1% vs. 20%–50%)" (Monti. 2013) in the discussion of the paper, I don't want to go into more details on this particular study, but rather return to a more general analysis of the metabolic effects of l-arginine in these last paragraphs. I mean, it should be obvious that the important most important question here is: "Is there any metabolic benefit of arginine supplementation, or not?

The results of the Monti study clearly show that there is (and that despite the fact that its authors' don't appear to have a grasp of the latest research results). Monti's paper does yet not describe the only experiment, the results of which would suggest that there is more to arginine than nitric oxide - or, if we go by the overview in figure 1, that there is more to nitric oxide than the pump.
  • In June 2012, researchers from the Poznan University of Medical Sciences in Poland, for example, published a paper in which they report that the provision of 9g/day of the nitric oxide precursor l-arginine for 3-months lead to statistically highly significant improvements in insulin sensitivity and a non-significant 1% reduction in body fat in the absence of any changes in dietary or activity patterns in patients with visceral obesity (BMI 39kg/m²). It did yet not, as the scientists had speculated reduce the expression of tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha), so that we have to assume that the beneficial effects on glucose management were not mediated by any hitherto largely ignored direct anti-inflammatory effects of the amino acid the Swiss chemist Ernst Schultze discovered in 1886 (Bogdanski. 2012). 
  • In the American Journal of Physiology. Endocrinology and Metabolism Lucotti et al. reported in 2006 that the addition of l-arginine (8.3g/day) to a combined diet plus exercise program for 21 days had highly beneficial effects on the study outcome, promoted the loss in fat mass (3kg vs. 2kg) and waist circumference (10cm vs. 3cm; no typo!), helped preserve lean mass (0kg vs. 2kg muscle loss) and improved the mean daily glucose profiles and the amount of fructosamine, a glycated serum protein and marker of poor glucose control, in the blood (Lucotti. 2006). Moreover, the supplementaion protocol increased the nitric oxide production, the andioxidant capacity and the adiponectin levels and improved the adiponectin-to-leptin ratio of the 25 women and 8 men (all obese, BMI ~39kg/m²) who participated in the study. 
  • In addition, studies on rodents and pigs have conclusively shown that arginine supplementation can increase the use and decrease the storage of fatty acids in different dietary scenarios (Fu. 2005; Jobgen. 2009; Tan. 2011).
One thing we should not forget, though is that there may in fact be something like an "arginine timing" effect, which could play a role in it's effect on body composition. In the scientific journal Amino Acids Smajilovic et al. report only recently that the l-arginine induced release of insulin is not mediated by a direct interaction of the alpha-amino acid with the amino acid receptors on the pancreas. Now, despite the fact that we do not know how, the mere fact that arginine will produce an immediate release of insulin tells us that it's use before / with a meal, would be more beneficial than during periods of fasting. This is particularly true for people who are either developing or at risk of developing insulin resistance and type II diabetes. After all, the decline in the early insulin response to the meal has been implicated as one of the first and most important steps in the etiology of type II diabetes (Pratley. 2001; Del Prato. 2002).

Is timing crucial and what about the arginine induced insulin release?

Maybe it's even it's effect on the health of your intestines (read more about that) that helps weight loss, who knows?
Unfortunately, few studies report whether the arginine was ingested before or with a meal. What we do know from the Monti study, however,  is that it's presence in the meal (which would be equal to the co-ingestion of supplemental l-arginine) tripled the amount of body fat the dieting subjects lost in the course of the two week intervention (2.02kg vs. 0.70kg). In conjunction with the previously mentioned ability to boos pancreatic insulin production, this observation would invalidate the still widely heralded assumption that a robust, appropriate early insulin response (critics would call it a "spike") would be something to be avoided at all costs - if it were, the l-arginine should have decreased the efficacy of the diet, right?

What we should however keep in mind, though is that a robust initial insulin response will lead to a faster reduction of blood glucose in into the normal range. That it turn will (ideally) render the release of even more insulin obsolete so that the initial spike will actually allow you to avoid the far more detrimental chronically (or in a "healthy" individual "long-term") elevation of insulin and can thus have the bring about the exact opposite of what most people believe it will do: weight loss, or a reduction in weight gain!

"So does it work and if so how? Can't be insulin, alone, can it?"

It is nevertheless unlikely that the increased acute response of the pancreas is the only mechanism (I would bet probably not even the most important one) by which increases in the amount of arginine in the diet facilitate and as examples like the study by Bogdanski et al. (Bogdanski. 2012) even trigger weight loss (remember: the obese subjects in this study did not do anything but take 9g/day of supplemental l-arginine three times a day).

Effects by which arginine could promote fat loss and body recompositioning: Stimulation of lypolysis (release fat from adipose tissue); activation of genes that are responsible for the oxidation of fatty acids; interaction with PGC-1 alpha and triggers mitochondrial biogenesis and the "browning" of fat; regulation of adipocyte-muscle crosstalk resulting in an energy repartitioning effect away from the adipose and towards the muscle tissue; activation of the AMPK pathway, resulting in improvements in both lipid and glucose metabolism.
According to a review by Tan et al., both the additive (dieting + arginine = better fat loss), as well as the "stand alone" (simply adding arginine on top of whatever diet you are following) effects of the nitric oxide precursor could be brought about by a combination of various factors (Tan. 2012). We have already seen in figure one that the nitric oxide exerts direct agonistic effects on PPAR-alpha. We also know that other substances such as fish oil and TTA (see "TTA + Fish Oil - Fat Burning Super Fats?"), which are likewise PPAR-alpha agonists will also promote the oxidation of fatty acids (specifically in the liver). Now, if you add the list of metabolic benefits, the scientists from the Institute of Subtropical Agriculture at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Changsha and their colleagues from the Texas A&M University have compiled (see infobox on the right), you will have to concede that your pre-workout nitric oxide booster would - at least on paper - make a pretty decent "fat burner", if all these effects, most of which have been observed in either rodents or pigs could be replicated in human beings.

Bottom line: For the metabolically deranged, the evidence is there. For followers of physical culture, on the other hand, there is as of yet no clear cut proof for the fat burning or repartitioning effects of l-arginine. Ah, and just in case you consider your little N=1 experiment with whatever pre-workout supplement evidence that it does not work - forget about that. With the minuscule amounts of l-arginine most of these products contain you can hardly make a difference when your basal diet does deliver tons of arginine, already (plus: you were probably taking it at the wrong time, namely on empty before a workout).

So do I suggest you buy a 5kg pouch of bulk l-arginine and go through it within 2 weeks? No, certainly not. You better wait until more data becomes available. For now, it would suffice if you don't fall for the anti-hype that's at least in part instigated by the same supplement companies that have been pimping l-arginine a couple of years ago as the ueber-supplement and an absolute must have for any serious trainee. I mean if you had the choice between six pack abs lasting 24/7 and a pump, what would you pick? I thought so... therefore this new area of application, could turn out to be way more exciting than the never-established, but highly marketed NO-boosting effects of l-arginine.

    • Alizadeh M, Safaeiyan A, Ostadrahimi A, Estakhri R, Daneghian S, Ghaffari A, Gargari BP. Effect of L-arginine and selenium added to a hypocaloric diet enriched with legumes on cardiovascular disease risk factors in women with central obesity: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Ann Nutr Metab. 2012;60(2):157-68.
    • Bogdanski P, Suliburska J, Grabanska K, Musialik K, Cieslewicz A, Skoluda A, Jablecka A. Effect of 3-month L-arginine supplementation on insulin resistance and tumor necrosis factor activity in patients with visceral obesity. Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. 2012 Jun;16(6):816-23.
    • Del Prato S, Marchetti P, Bonadonna RC. Phasic insulin release and metabolic regulation in type 2 diabetes. Diabetes. 2002 Feb;51 Suppl 1:S109-16.
    • Fu WJ, Haynes TE, Kohli R, Hu J, Shi W, Spencer TE, Carroll RJ, Meininger CJ, Wu G. Dietary L-arginine supplementation reduces fat mass in Zucker diabetic fatty rats. J Nutr. 2005 Apr;135(4):714-21.
    • Jobgen W, Fu WJ, Gao H, Li P, Meininger CJ, Smith SB, Spencer TE, Wu G. High fat feeding and dietary L-arginine supplementation differentially regulate gene expression in rat white adipose tissue. Amino Acids. 2009 May;37(1):187-98.
    • Lucotti P, Setola E, Monti LD, Galluccio E, Costa S, Sandoli EP, Fermo I, Rabaiotti G, Gatti R, Piatti P. Beneficial effects of a long-term oral L-arginine treatment added to a hypocaloric diet and exercise training program in obese, insulin-resistant type 2 diabetic patients. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2006 Nov;291(5):E906-12.
    • Monti LD, Casiraghi MC, Setola E, Galluccio E, Pagani MA, Quaglia L, Bosi E, Piatti P. l-Arginine enriched biscuits improve endothelial function and glucose metabolism: A pilot study in healthy subjects and a cross-over study in subjects with impaired glucose tolerance and metabolic syndrome. Metabolism. 2013; 62:255–26.
    • Pratley RE, Weyer C. The role of impaired early insulin secretion in the pathogenesis of Type II diabetes mellitus. Diabetologia. 2001 Aug;44(8):929-45.
    • Tan B, Yin Y, Liu Z, Tang W, Xu H, Kong X, Li X, Yao K, Gu W, Smith SB, Wu G. Dietary L-arginine supplementation differentially regulates expression of lipid-metabolic genes in porcine adipose tissue and skeletal muscle. J Nutr Biochem. 2011 May;22(5):441-5.
    • Tan B, Li X, Yin Y, Wu Z, Liu C, Tekwe CD, Wu G. Regulatory roles for L-arginine in reducing white adipose tissue. Front Biosci. 2012 Jun 1;17:2237-46.

    Review for Great Value Energy Drink Enhancer--Berry Blast


    50 mg/serving (1 tsp.)


    At every Wal-Mart I’ve been to thus far.


    Full marks for being handy; point knocked off simply because Mio looks better.  Another thought: why the heck are half of all berry energy products (or otherwise) “berry blast?”


    Flavor is reasonably pleasant—you’ve got your blueberries, your strawberries, your raspberries, etc.  It’s all a berry lover could ask for in a drink enhancer.  One word of warning, though; this is not especially forgiving when it comes to the water:additive ratio—one bit too much water and it’s bland, one bit to little and it tastes like you’re drinking the concentrate straight out of the bottle.


    Same story here as either of the other Great Value Energy water enhancers—they perform about as well as Mio in smaller doses, but as you go up the differences between the two become exaggerated, and soon you’re using two glasses to get the same rush from Great Value that you could have gotten from one glass of Mio.  Significant doses:

    Two servings (1 teaspoon) will administer 100 mg of caffeine; which should be enough to get you through most day-to-day stuff. 7/10

    Three servings (1½ teaspoons) will give you 150 mg of caffeine—and a bit less energy than the same amount of Mio; think about what you’d get from most Monster beverages.  8/10

    Four servings (2 teaspoons) will give you 200 mg of caffeine, and through that a thorough boost that will get you through most standard energy-requiring situations. 8.5/10

    Add a couple more servings to that and you get into the really high-intensity territory—and the high water consumption territory, which often leads to you wandering to bathroom territories.


    Two servings last three hours, for a 7/10; three servings lasts just shy of three and a half hours for a decent 8/10; four servings lasts four hours for a 9/10.


    Overall, this is a decent product.  Still not as enthused as I was with Mio Energy—Black Cherry, but I’ve got one more flavor to review.  We’ll see where that leads.


    KEYWORDS: Great Value Energy Berry Blast review, Wal-Mart brand water enhancer review, zero carbs, zero calories, zero sugar, diet

    Review for Great Value Energy Drink Enhancer--Strawberry Kiwi


    50 mg/serving (1/2 teaspoon)


    Just head to Wal-Mart!


    Great Value gets full functional points for having the whole “handy squeeze bottle” thing down; Mio still has it beat for having the more striking look.  A extra point is taken off for the combination of these particular shades of green and pink—a combination which I particularly dislike.


    I opened my bottle of this drink enhancer fully ready for a tirade.  Not that I have all that much an issue with the Great Value brand; my entire medicine cabinet consists of their products—but, Mio Energy—Black Cherry has managed establish itself as one of my all-time favorite energy products, and I was ready to assert its superiority over a competitor with pathologic zeal…never mind the fact that that I’ve never had a problem with anything they’ve put out before.

    Turns out, however, that this does just fine, in taste and (see below) performance.  The strawberry kiwi flavor is actually quite pleasant—even if it could use a little more kiwi in the oft-derived combination.  You may have to experiment a little to find the right balance of water to enhancer—but this particular product is a little more forgiving in that regard than its Berry Blast counterpart.


    Good marks here for overall versatility; only reason I take a point of is that you need much more water to make higher doses taste good, which in combination with the diuretic effects of caffeine can cause some inconveniences.  Significant doses:

    Two servings (1 teaspoon) will give you 100 mg of caffeine; enough put a spring in your step and help you feel a degree of alertness appropriate enough for studying or general duties.  7/10

    Three servings (1½ teaspoons) will give you 150 mg of caffeine—and a bit less energy than three servings of Mio.  Winds up to be about average.  8/10

    Four servings (2 teaspoons) will give you 200 mg of caffeine—and here you really start to notice that it doesn’t perform quite as well as Mio.  Still, it’s a decent boost that will get you through most standard energy-requiring situations. 8.5/10

    Additional doses will eventually get you pretty wired, though like Mio, you never really feel jittery.  If you do decide to go that route, make sure you aren’t where you can’t go to the bathroom for extended periods, because you will need all that much more water to make it work flavorwise.


    Two servings last three hours, for a 7/10; three servings lasts just shy of three and a half hours for a decent 8/10; four servings lasts four hours for a 9/10.


    In conclusion, this isn’t Mio—but it’s still a pretty decent product, with double the servings (but less caffeine per dose) at about 75 cents less.  Try it and see if you like it; remember to comment below.


    KEYWORDS: Great Value Energy Strawberry Kiwi review, Wal-Mart brand water enhancer review, zero carbs, zero calories, zero sugar, diet

    Review for Maxxed Energy Pop


    40 mg


    Obtained in a trade.  Thank you Mr. Boots!


    This is a cool freaking packaging job.  I can think of few things that would hype me up about an energy sucker than finding out that each individual sucker has been placed in its own energy drink can-esque cardboard tube—that’s justcool!  Now, in saying this I have revealed that I’m easily swayed by these sorts of gimmicks—but I don’t care.  This is still a cool freaking packaging job.


    As far as the actual experience…this was a weird sucker.  The flavor’s lemon-lime, plus some other fruits, and it really tastes alright.  But…I don’t get what the need was to make this sucker so gritty.  There are little granules of something in here that made it feel like the sucker was made of coarse sandpaper—and it was really, really weird, and a little unpleasant.  I’m glad I had the heads-up on this so I could be careful, but there was still one little area on the roof of my mouth just behind my two front teeth that was in constant contact with the sucker during the fact—and it felt scraped and raw for a few days after the fact.  Consume with caution.


    I don’t know that it was so much the caffeine in this sucker that woke me up as it was eating a cat-tongue sucker—but in any event, I didn’t have any troubles with falling asleep as long as it was in my mouth.


    Effects only lasted a half-hour after I finished the pop before I got ready for bed and had no troubles falling asleep.  Still, it was nice while it lasted.


    This is the sort of thing you try for the sake of experiencing it—kind of like surströmming, except it’s not fermented Baltic herring.  Judging by the fact that I can’t find the website anywhere I’m guessing this has been discontinued, but if you do happen upon this, do give it a shot.

    WEBSITE: not available

    KEYWORDS: Maxxed Energy Pop review, energy sucker review, coarse texture

    Review for Mad Croc


    80 mg


    My travels have demonstrated that this is uncommon, but, once again, this was obtained through a trade with the editor-in-chief of (which is without a doubt my favorite energy drink review site to go to)—so really, I have no way of knowing for sure.


    Red Bull, Roaring Lion, Mad Croc…this sort of thing gets a bit tiring.  The crocodile on the front is a cool enough mascot, but from everything here I knowI’m going to get another Red Bull clone…and I’m kinda tired of Red Bull clones in general.  So, Mad Croc, if you turn out to be an RBC, as I’m anticipating, you’d better be a good one.  Otherwise, I’m going to be grumpy.

    Side note—I must admit…this particular can screams “Red Bull cone) far less than the can it came in when it first came out, which was such an obvious ripoff that they were sued by Red Bull.  Check it out here.


    I’m grumpy.

    This is your standard RBC—except gummier, and with a slight hint of vanilla.  I actually didn’t mind the vanilla…but this is such an ordinary clone that after the first sip I just rolled my eyes and pounded the rest of the can.


    Not the most formidable boost I’ve ever experienced by a long shot.  Might wake you up enough to help you study, but you’re going to need something a heck of a lot stronger for most anything else.


    Two and a half hours of below average energy, slight crash after the fact.


    The only thing this drink really has going for itself is the cool name, otherwise it’s just a standard RBC that has done nothing to really merit consumer attention.


    KEYWORDS: Mad Croc energy drink review, Red Bull clone, traditional energy drink flavor

    Review for Liquid Nitro--Tropical Storm


    160 mg


    Liquid Nitro isn’t very common as a general rule, but it is starting to pop up at more and more locations.  When it hits Idaho, you’ll be the first to know.


    I can’t say I really get what Liquid Nitro trying to do with this new design—I mean, I can say it’s kind of a shift from its former Red Bull-esque, minimalist motif to a more hardcore, Monster-esque look, but I don’t know that I really get the combination of the lightning ball/Klingon bat'leth they used here…I guess it looks alright, and that’s all they really care about.


    More often than not, I’m not into really sugary energy drinks.  My favorites (with a few exceptions) are mostly low carb or low calorie or whatever you want to call it, but on occasion I do find a decent sugary energy drink.  My personal favorite is still Monster Energy—Heavy Metal, but this one is not shabby at all.  The flavor is exactly what you’d expect—a blend of tropical fruits, all homogenized to the point where very few (pineapple, guava, etc.) are really distinct, but regardless taste good enough that I wouldn’t mind trying it again at some future point.


    It seems that “the high end of average” is becoming the new average—not that I mind, but I am getting a bit tired of reporting this degree of energy.  You won’t be short on alertness or jitters, but if you’re looking for something remarkable kickwise this isn’t the way to go.


    Three and a half hours passed before the sugar crash came—which wasn’t the worst I’ve ever had, but still wasn’t terribly agreeable.


    Tastes good, kick’s decent…if you’re a fan of sugary Rockstars or Monsters or any other number of drinks on the market today, you’ll like this one.  Even if you’re not…well, it still tastes good enough to try at least once.

    KEYWORDS: Liquid Nitro Tropical Storm energy drink review, new Liquid Nitro flavor review, tropical fruit, super fruit

    Anti-Creatine β-Guanidinopropionic Acid (GPA) Increases AMPK, Decreases Blood Glucose & Insulin, Induces Weight loss Without Dieting, Increases Oxidative Capacity and Can Even Delay the Development of Mammary Cancer! BUT...

    While he may be so fast that he is almost out of the focus, when the photographer finally released the shutter, Usain Bolt, the fasted man on earth actually doesn't look as if his fiber type composition was highly type II dominant, does he? 
    While the relation may be distant, you will soon see that today's blogpost is somewhat related to Saturday's news item about the ability of high dose nicotinic acid to shift the muscle fiber type composition from a towards the oxidative side of things. After all, there is hardly anything that is more "glycolytic" (I am using the word here in a very broad sense) than the use of the intramuscular phosphocreatine stores to squeeze out another rep or explode out of the starting block and sprint towards the finish line in less than 10 seconds.

    Ah, yes those phosphocreatine stores, they are great and creatine is the staple supplement for anyone looking to improve his glycolytic performance. But hey, wait a minute: Shouldn't that actually mean that taking creatine would be a bad thing for an ironman (not the one from the cinema, but the Hawaiian ;-)?

    GPA - Supplemental creatine unloading for edurance athletes!?

    Well, the answer to the question "Is creatine bad for endurance athletes" is, as long as you stick to reasonable doses "No! It isn't.". It neither helps nor hinders endurance performance and a "real" Ironman could probably even get away with one of those sugar-laden "cell-volumizers" without doing much harm. His body is would just burn through the carbs without any of them ending up as additional ballast on his hips. That said, previous studies by Vanakoski et al. or Chwalbiñska-Moneta clearly show that performance detriments are not an issue and in the latter of the two studies, the creatine supplement did even improve the "endurance (expressed by the individual lactate threshold) and anaerobic performance, independent of the effect of intensive endurance training" so that the highly trained rowers who participated in the study at hand would in fact have had an edge at the end of the race and may - if they would have otherwise been on par with the competition - probably have won the race (Vanakoski. 1998; Chwalbiñska-Moneta. 2003).

    Surprise: Anyone of you who has ever taken NO Xplode 2.0 (new or old formula) has already been supplementing with GPA - both the original and the "advanced strength" formula contain an undisclosed amount of GPA. Apropos, if you are interested in the differences between the two, check out my previous article on the matter - I guess I don't give away too much, when I tell you that they are few and far between.
    There is however a significant difference between not supplementing with creatine and relying on your own body's ability to produce the "meat amino acid" ("creatine" is derived from the greek word for meat) from L-arginine, glycine, and L-methionine and using a "supplement", or rather, another amino acid that does actually hamper its recycling and thus availability by the creatine kinase enzyme. β-guanidinopropionic acid (bGPA, simply GPA or N-(aminoiminomethyl)-beta-alanine), an amino acid with a similar molecular structure as creatine, is such a molecule. GPA reduces the flux through the CK reaction, by reducing cellular creatine uptake and will thus effectively have similar effect as the genetic ablation of the CK enzyme, which does - probably to your surprise - not just hamper the viability of respective mouse mutants, but will also (and here we are getting back to the effects of nicotinic acid) improved their muscular endurance and lead to a shift from type II to type I fiber predominance (Van Deursen 1993; Ventura-Clapier 2004; Vaarmann, 2008).

    In short, when you use 5g of creatine as a means to "load" your PCr stores, the administration of GPA will have an "unloading" effect. This effect has in fact been studies in a number of previous studies. The effects and potential side effects of GPA are yet unclear and that despite the notwithstanding that it is freely available on the market and *surprise* you may well have been taking very small quantities of it in the past (maybe even still are), since NO Xplode 2.0 is by no means the only supplement that contains small (and obviously undisclosed) amounts of GPA in its kitchen sink ... ah, I mean "proprietary blend" (see "Ask Dr. Andro: Are There NO Changes in the New N.O.-Xplode 2.0 Advanced Strength Formula?", read full article). Reason enough for Inge Oudman, Joseph F. Clark and Lizzy M. Brewster from the Academic Medical Center in Amsterdam (Netherlands) and the University of Cincinnati to conduct a systematic review to assess the effect of this substance on the mammalian energy metabolism (Oudman. 2013).

    So what did the scientists find? Is GPA the "next creatine" we've been waiting for?  ;-)

    The primary outcome of the review was the effect of GPA on energy metabolism, function, and morphology of tissues "with high and fluctuating energy demands" (Oudman. 2013) - this includes the obvious,...
    • skeletal muscle, where it reduces creatine, phosphocreatine, total creatine, and ATP by 66.1%, 79.7%, 86.7% , and 38.8%, blunted the total creatine kinase activity (-28.6%), but increased the intra-mitochondrial creatine recycling (CK activity) by 200%, reduced the activity of glycolytic enzymes (phosphorylase -38.8%, lactate dehydrogenase -16.2%), increased AMPK expression by 45% and AMPK mRNA by 20%, promoted GLUT-4 expression (+45% in slow-, +33% in fast twitch fibers) and subsequently doubled muscle glycogen content, while decreasing blood glucose (-5%) and insulin levels (-27% in non-diabetic animals), improved endurance during non-/light weight bearing exercises and hampered it during heavier exercise, doubled mitochondrial DNA (evidence for the shift towards an oxidative muscle type), and decreased total and relative muscle weight by 19% and 10% respectively;
    • heart muscle, where similar decreases in creatine, phosphocreatine, total creatine, and ATP occurred and GPA decreased the survival rates after myocardial infarction by ~50%
    but also the vascular musculature, where no significant effects were observed, in the central nervous system and the brain, where GPA reduced the creatine concentration (brain), doubled the adenylate kinase and succinate dehydrogenase activity (both are involved in energy reallocation), increased the risk of seizures, but showed potentially protective effects against neurodegenerative diseases.  Furthermore the scientists report that GPA reduced creatine uptake in the kidney, reduced the body temperature and increased the amount of BAT (+3.4%, in rodents!). And last, but certainly not least, GPA delayed the development of mammary gland tumors in a rodent model (cf. Chira. 1995; Metzner. 2009)

    To summarize...

    It looks like a marathon supplement, but it's not even sure that endurance athletes would benefit from taking GPA. In the off.season it could "intensify" the training, but before a race it appears to be rather counter-indicated (photo
    Overall the review confirms the notion that the administration of GPA leads to marked reductions in creatine, phosphocreatine, and ATP concentrations and reduces cytosolic, while increasing mitochondrial CK activity in skeletal muscle. These observations stand in line with a shift from a glycolitic to a mitochondrial oxidative metabolism that is facilitated / goes hand in hand with
    • a shift from type II to type I fiber predominance,
    • increased glucose tolerance, and
    • reduced skeletal muscle and body weight
    which do not incidentally remind us of the adaptive responses to endurance exercise. It goes without saying that mainstream science is psyched about the "reduced body weight with unchanged food intake" of which the Oudman et al. argue that it "may be related to the fiber type shift, as an association between type II fiber predominance and body weight was previously reported".

    Other, per se unquestionably more favorable confounding factors are the increased cellular fatty acid transporter protein concentration, fatty acid oxidative capacity and the compensatory increase in AMPK expression that is actually a response to the perceived energy (ATP) deficiency that develops in response to the administration of GPA (click here to learn more about AMPK's role in fatty acid oxidation and glucose metabolism). So, as paradox as it may sound: Despite its negative effects on the use of glucose as a substrate GPA could actually improve, not deteriorate glucose metabolism via an AMPK mediated "metformin-esque" effect on GLUT-4 expression.

    Way too many trainees tend to forget the true meaning of "supplement". Supplements are something that "supplement" something else. In the case of creatine supplementation the latter supplements your efforts in the gym and won't (and this has recently been confirmed) build muscle on its own.
    So what's the verdict then? Now, all that does certainly sound pretty cool, well - at least for a cut - so would it be better to avoid creatine for leaner muscle gains and use GPA, whenever you are cutting? The first of these bottom-line questions is easy to answer: No! Studies have repeatedly shown that creatine supplementation does not only increase the mass gains, it also improves the ratio of lean to fat mass more than resistance training alone (as long as you the baseline diets are identical).

    What about GPA as a diet tool, then? While it certainly would appear that taking (hitherto by the way unknown) amounts of GPA could help you lose weight, it is unlikely that this weight loss will make you look the way, you want to look. I mean if you have to lose weight at all costs, because your health depends on it, GPA could provide a viable AMPK promoter that may help you achieve just that.

    Especially strength athletes, sprinters and the like, as well as anyone wanting to look / perform like one of these athletes should yet resort to the tried and proven dietary tweaks to get rid of the extra weight. And there is actually no reason not to continue taking a regular maintenance dose of 3g of creatine during the cut,also in view of the fact that the "beneficial" effects of GPA supplementation are actually brought about by blocking one out of two energy sources - much like keto dieting, by the way, but that's a topic for another blogpost ;-)

    Related read: "Ask Dr. Andro: The Pharmacokinetics of Creatine"- Part I & Part II

    • Chwalbiñska-Moneta J. Effect of creatine supplementation on aerobic performance and anaerobic capacity in elite rowers in the course of endurance training. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2003 Jun;13(2):173-83.
    • Metzner L, Dorn M, Markwardt F, Brandsch M. The orally active antihyperglycemic drug beta-guanidinopropionic acid is transported by the human proton-coupled amino acid transporter hPAT1. Mol Pharm. 2009; 6: 1006– 1011.
    • Ohira Y, Inoue N. Effects of creatine and beta-guanidinopropionic acid on the growth of Ehrlich ascites tumor cells: i.p. injection and culture study. Biochim Biophys Acta. 1995; 1243:367–372.
    • Oudman I, Clark JF, Brewster LM. The Effect of the Creatine Analogue Beta-guanidinopropionic Acid on Energy Metabolism: A Systematic Review. PLoS One. 2013;8(1):e52879.
    • Vaarmann A, Fortin D, Veksler V, Momken I, Ventura-Clapier R. Mitochondrial biogenesis in fast skeletal muscle of CK deficient mice. Biochim Biophys Acta. 2008; 1777: 39–47.
    • Vanakoski J, Kosunen V, Meririnne E, Seppälä T. Creatine and caffeine in anaerobic and aerobic exercise: effects on physical performance and pharmacokinetic considerations. Int J Clin Pharmacol Ther. 1998 May;36(5):258-62.
    • Van Deursen J, Heerschap A, Oerlemans F, Ruitenbeek W, Jap P. Skeletal muscles of mice deficient in muscle creatine kinase lack burst activity. Cell. 1993; 74: 621–631
    • Ventura-Clapier R, Kaasik A, Veksler V. Structural and functional adaptations of striated muscles to CK deficiency. Mol Cell Biochem 2004; 256–257: 29–41.

      Choose Your Path

      Just a simple midnight note to answer so many questions on my blog, formspring, twitter, and even real life, about how does it feel to be homeschooled. What is homeschooling? Why do you choose homeschooling instead of public / regular school? Do you miss your friends? How do you interact socially? Don’t you miss having a normal social life?

      5 years ago, homeschooling was quite a breakthrough in Indonesia’s education program, though it wasn’t a new thing in other countries, actually it is pretty common and it started long time ago. Thank God for my open-minded parents, they did a lot of research of homeschooling & some schools here starting to support that program. For regular school & homeschooling, I’m not saying one of those is better than the other. For everyone have a different potentials, different needs, not every kids could be convenient with homeschooling, and vice versa.

      Nothing is wrong with learning outside school building. Some people relate homeschooling with ‘quitting school’ or even a harsh word ‘uneducated’, just because we learn outside your usual school buildings. In fact, people learn every single day in their lives until they die. In homeschooling itself, there are still a few options and curriculums. I took full homeschooling, my parents do the teaching & customise the curriculum that fits me and my interests.

      Do I miss my school friends? The answer is yes. Sometimes, a lot. They said high school times are the most precious, I felt lucky to be in it even just for 2 years. I was one weirdo in high school back then. Too quiet to be a popular student, but not too quiet to do weird and unusual things with my dysfunctional best friends (writing this brought back the memories of my high school, by the way). Sometimes we got too close that we walked together (literally together …well, we tied our shoelaces, four of us) across the field to the canteen while everyone were eating normally. We did indescribable stuffs. 

      My school years were awesome. When I decided to take homeschooling, it was really hard. I wasn’t sure if I was old enough to take one important crossroads in my life, but I felt really glad to have a super supportive parents. And it was hard to be apart from my friends. We promised to stay in touched. But it still felt different. We got too busy with our own stuffs that we didn’t have any chance to meet at all. I have to study alone while everyone was tagging pictures on their school yearbook. I miss school pranks. I didn’t go to prom. But I regret nothing.

      Being homeschooled didn’t alienate me. It forced me to get out of my little-shy-girl shell, I adapted to new situation, new environment. I met new friends, new people from different places, and of course, learned a lot of new things. I have a normal social life, maybe in even wider range than I could imagine. We choose our own path. I was wondering what if I chose different path than what I’m having now. I might haven’t find a way to overcome my shyness. I might never try to blog. I might never brave enough to take a step and start a business. I might have done something else. Who knows. The most important thing is, I enjoy every single decision I took, and never regretting any of them. Adapting from John Lennon’s sayings, I believe: the time you enjoy learning was not wasted. :)

      me and my little brother, circa 2009. We were both homeschooled. :) 

      PS. I also received some curious questions like “What’s making you ‘so busy’ until you decided to quit regular school?”, and some of them are cynically asking “Why are you taking homeschooling instead of regular school? Who do you think you are, some kind of celebrity?” I might ask you to get up from your couch, stop watching Indonesian’s infotainment and start googling. :)) Homeschooling doesn’t *only* belong to Indonesian’s celebrities and their kids. But that is one good alternative. In fact, Thomas Alva Edison was homeschooled too (no, he wasn’t a celebrity). He was homeschooled because the teacher said he was stupid and not like all other kids in the class. Well who knows that ‘difference’ was a sign of world’s famous inventor. :) most of all, be wise enough not to look down on people by their education level, because the most essential thing in any school is to find our passion, potencials & specialities on what we love, in any possible methods, because we are not a bunch of robots created to do the same thing. Each of us are unique, therefore there’s no exact determination of how smart or how stupid people are, the only measurement we can trust is how much are you willing to learn, because no man is too old or too smart to stop learning. :)

      Anyway, here is one inspiring blogger I adore, which is also a mom of 4 lovely homeschooled kids, stalk her blog in the meantime!

      Road Grime

      I would like to put it out there that I am not a roadie. That's relatively evident (though I do have days and the occasional race on the MTB where I feel like it...). So it surprised even me when I decided to get some roadie action on board. Yep, I have emptied my bank account in order to purchase my CA license, and I have made some hasty use of it with an appearance at Nundah crit track on Saturday.

      Having been feeling overly 'woe is me' for no good reason the past week, the intensity of a good hit out definitely lifted my mood somewhat.

      The average speed of the race being mid-high 40's, in addition to the fact that it was a 'points' race (ie: prime every lap) meant that it was a great little threshold boosting exercise. I was surprised my legs were okay after some decent—but very grumpy—km's the day before.

      It was a reasonably fast crit (middle, fast bit). Sorry the only pictures for this post I have are nerdy,

      There is nothing I love more than turning up in MTB kit to a road race and racing B-grade men who pretty much invariably have ridiculously expensive bikes complete with DI-2 and deep-dish wheels, and then being a woman out there with an alloy roadie and training (ie: cheap and bombproof, awesome!) tyres having digs. And digs I did have.

      Having nothing to loose, I gave the 'points' a few digs, the closest to actually winning a lap sprint and thus a point was me rolling through in third, but the training and physiological benefit from turning yourself inside out again and again can't be diminished. In my opinion...having previously raced crits for training, a bit of a smashfest, and for a good dose of endorphins and mental health, the point of 'saving yourself' for the final sprint seems pretty futile; especially as a female rider.

      There were other women in our race, though I only ever saw one other who just sat in the top third of the bunch for pretty much the whole race. There is nothing wrong with this at all, if you are saving yourself to be the first woman over the line (and in the end, I was sprinting on my lonesome into the wind with a silent scream-face, and she came from off my wheel—didn't even know she was there—and pipped me by no more than an inch on the line. I am not a tactician, clearly) but isn't it more fun mixing it up a bit?

      Perhaps one day I will get some street smarts and win something on the road. Maybe. It's not a priority but it could be fun.

      I didn't feel like I was going to blow up at all! Win!

      I checked my data at the end of the day (I rode to work straight after the race) and it looks like, indeed, the digs did hurt me as I peaked in the mid 190's several times. Yeowch. I am not sure how much longer I would have been able to ride at this intensity without the holy mushroom cloud, it is pretty much all above threshold, but I didn't feel bad. Weird!

      Cruising along the bike path, followed by waiting for the race and at about 1.06.00 it was on!
      The end is just riding to work, in a sort-of hurry.

      It does give me a bit of confidence though, being able to mix it up a bit, not just 'hang on'. Who knows though, I am racing the Twilight Series on Wednesday, and apparently B grade is a bit more 'ouch' with the bigger hitters turning up. I am excited for a challenge!

      Review for Kick Ass Energy


      100 mg


      Very popular, apparently, in the Denver area—but seeing as I don’t live there, it’s tough to come by.  Special thanks to BigRedBoots at for the sample, especially considering that these aren’t cheap!


      I appreciate the company that put out this shot, mostly because I think they come out with some decent hot sauces.  All ploys used in packaging their hot sauces are used here with the same positive effect, inducing within me a healthy mix of eagerness and respect for the fact that this is probably not going to be a mild flavor experience.


      My feelings on the flavor here are profoundly mixed.  First thing that I get when I open the bottle was a scent with a nice spicy bite—and seeing as I love spicy, I’m eager to take a swig.  The first little bit did not impress me—kind of a vague fruity flavor that I couldn’t place.   But then, a second flavor takes over—that of red pepper jelly.

      Let me tell you, there is almost nothing in the food world I love more than red pepper jelly—especially with those light air crackers and cream cheese.  If common sense didn’t restrain me, I think that, sushi, and a few other items would be all I ate.

      In summary, Kick Ass Energy barely misses becoming the perfect energy shot.  If I could do away with that initial fruity taste that defaces the rest of the experience, I would be jumping off the walls for joy right now.


      Actually, the 100 mg here deliver a fairly respectable kick, all things considered.  It got me awake quite quickly after a long night of studying, and had me buzzing about my business as though I had gotten to bed and arisen early.


      Three and a half hours—no crash!


      Again—this comes so freaking close to being one of the best energy products I’ve ever had—I’m just so put off by the blah fruitiness I tasted at first that it’s hard to think about how I enjoyed the rest of it.  Still, if you get the chance, please do try it—it’s worth it, even with the $4.99 price tag.


      KEYWORDS: Kick Ass energy shot review, Kick Ass energy drink review, low carb