Natural Muscle recently sat down with industry researcher and developer William Llewellyn. Bill is well known as the author of the ANABOLICS book series, widely regarded as the most comprehensive reference book on the actions and side effects of anabolic steroids.
He has also introduced several new ingredients to the sports nutrition industry; including a once obscure essential fatty acid called arachidonic acid. In an industry of giants, Bill is the owner of a relatively smaller company called Molecular Nutrition. Molecular Nutrition, however, seems to exemplify the adage that big things sometimes come in small packages.
Even Bill’s critics will admit he is a very smart man, and his company highly innovative. Molecular Nutrition’s track record does make one thing clear. When Bill does something, the industry tends to pay attention. We were all ears for our first interview with Bill, and excited to find out what he and Molecular Nutrition have been working on.
NM: Thank you for sitting down with Natural Muscle today Bill.
WL: Thank you for having me. I always appreciate the opportunity to speak about what I am working on.
NM: I think it is a good idea to start where we left off. The last time you appeared in Natural Muscle you had written an article for us about arachidonic acid. You recommended that bodybuilders supplement this essential fatty acid to help build muscle mass. Arachidonic acid supplements have become very popular since then. Before we get into anything new, can you give our readers a quick background on arachidonic acid?
WL: Sure. Arachidonic acid is an Omega 6 EFA that is very important in the process of muscle growth. This EFA is stored in the out layer of muscle cells, and is released when your muscle tissues are damaged from exercise. Its role is to instruct the body that immediate tissue repair is needed. It seems to do this mainly by intensifying the anabolic signals of testosterone, growth hormone, insulin, and IGF-1 in the local (damaged) tissues.
NM: Does arachidonic acid increase hormone levels?
WL: No, it doesn’t, actually. It seems to work by increasing the number of receptors available for these anabolic hormones, or the strength of the signals that some receptors send. This is an equally important part of the equation though.
The bottom line is the level of stimulation the cells are getting, or more simply, how much “build muscle” message they are receiving. Increasing the hormone level, the receptor level, or the signal strength are all ways of intensifying protein synthesis in these cells.
NM: There was a clinical study on arachidonic acid. Can we consider this a “validated” supplement, like creatine?
WL:: Yes, I would certainly say so. The university study was performance based, looking at a group of people that were weight training while supplementing arachidonic acid (or placebo) for 50 days. The results were very impressive. Statistically strong trends of improvement were noted in strength (bench press 1-rep max), peak and average anaerobic power, and total muscle endurance.
This was the very first performance study on this EFA. I expect to see more studies in the future, an Interview with William Llewellyn Natural which will help us fine tune its use. Already though it is being used with excellent success by a wide number of natural competitive and recreational bodybuilders.
NM: I believe it has been more than 5 years since you first recommended this EFA. Have you learned anything new?
WL: Yes, quite a bit. For one example, I have been researching ways to tweak arachidonic acid for a long time, to make it more effective, basically.
We’ll be coming out with a new version of our arachidonic acid supplement, X-Factor, very soon, which incorporates these ideas. Without going into too much detail, we can now more efficiently absorb and utilize this EFA, which will make it more potent and cost effective. This will allow a wider number of people to see the benefits of this extremely effective natural supplement.
NM: What else have you been working with? Are there any other new supplement ingredients that have interested you?
WL: I like Beta Alanine quite a lot. This is a natural beta amino acid that is involved with carnosine synthesis in the muscles. Carnosine helps slow acid buildup during intense exertion, which at a certain level will drastically block performance. Basically, beta alanine supplementation can increase the acid buffering capacity of your muscles.
It can allow you to push through your previous performance limits. A weight lifter should see a couple of more reps and sets each workout, and someone in an anaerobic sport like short to medium distance running may see a slightly faster time or longer period of work before fatigue sets in. It really is an amazing supplement.
NM: I know that many companies are selling beta alanine now. Is Molecular Nutrition?
WL: Yes, we just started selling a pure beta alanine supplement in a time-release tablet, called Peak Beta. It is a very stable and slow time-release product, which eliminates the #1 side effect of beta alanine, the “tingles”.
NM: Can you explain the tingles?
WL: It is similar to the flush feeling that someone gets with a niacin supplement. Your skin may feel hot and tingling. This is often felt in your extremities, and sometimes on your face and head too. It isn’t dangerous, and usually after time your body will get used to the beta alanine, and they won’t be as strong.
But still, many people don’t like it, and won’t take beta alanine for this reason. I wanted to eliminate this issue once and for all. I was able to accomplish this by keeping blood levels from spiking above the threshold for parasthesia (the medical word for the tingles). There are no side effects with this new time-release formula, so you really only know you are taking it by the enhanced endurance.
NM: Have there been studies on beta alanine?
WL: Yes, quite a bit actually. This supplement has seen several clinical studies over the past few years. The results have consistent ly been very favorable, again, mainly in areas of muscle and sports endurance.
NM: What else do you like for natural muscle building supplements?
WL: It has been quite some time since creatine (as creatine monohydrate) first came out, but I don’t think we should forget this supplement. Sometimes we can get so caught up focusing on what is new that we forget the old stuff that really works.
Granted, there are many new salts and forms of creatine, many which seem to work very well. We must remember though, that fundamentally these are all creatine supplements, just like plain old creatine monohydrate. Creatine monohydrate is a highly researched, clinically validated, and very effective supplement for helping to increase muscle size and strength.
It is also extremely cost effective right now. Even the very budget conscious should be able to add an effective dose to their program very cheaply. Regardless of the form, I am still a fan of creatine.
NM: Does Molecular Nutrition sell a creatine supplement?
WL: No, we don’t. I am always working on some idea or another with creatine. It is such a proven supplement. But up to now I haven’t pulled the trigger on any project. Maybe one day we will. I don’t know how soon though. There are a lot of projects I am working on simultaneously, so I don’t know when I’ll have the time.
NM: What do you feel are the most effective supplements for weight training people overall?
WL: First, the basics. I think a good protein supplement is very important. If you are not getting enough protein, Somtimes we can get so caught up focusing on what is new that we forget the old stuff that really works. Continued from the previous page nothing else will matter much.
I like to use a blended product with 50% miscellar casein (a slow digesting protein) and 50% whey isolate (a fast digesting protein). It creates a nice balance I think. I believe you should also consider a good multi-vitamin supplement, as well as fish oil high in EPA and DHA. In regards to supplements for supporting rapid mass gains,
I regard arachidonic acid, beta alanine, and creatine (in any effective form) as the 3 most fundamental supplements. Arginine products can also be good for their vasodilatory (pump enhancing) effects, although the jury is still out whether this will actually enhance performance over the long-term. They definitely do not seem to hurt though.
NM: What else are you working on? Can you give us any hints about upcoming products?
WL: I am working on a lot right now. I don’t think I’ve ever been this busy from a development standpoint. For starters, I will be traveling to Europe next week. I will be there for a month working on a new book called “Underground ANABOLICS”. It will be an investigation of the underground steroid market to determine if increasing demand and tightening supply have been affecting the purity of black market products.
There is also going to be a book focused on natural performance enhancing supplements soon. The working title is “Natural ANABOLICS”. If all goes well I expect to see this sometime near the summer. On the supplement side of things, we will be expanding our “Health Stabil” line of products next month with Liver Stabil, a liver support supplement. I am also working in collaboration with another developer on a new testosterone-boosting supplement. This one could be very big.
NM: Is this testosterone booster new, or does it use known supplement ingredients?
WL: This is completely new, and some really interesting stuff. I can’t say too much as I don’t want to spill the beans yet. It is too early to know for sure if we’ve got a winner.
I am waiting on some blood work at the moment, to see if we’ve “got it” with regard to the dosage and application. One thing I can tell you about Molecular Nutrition, we will only introduce a new ingredient after we’ve closely studied it and know it works. If it doesn’t pan out we will abandon it. I have high expectations for this supplement though.