- Why are Athletes Performing Better for Longer?
- Signs of Physical Deterioration to Address
- Causes of Physical Decline
- Cellular Aging - NAD+, Sirtuins, Telomeres and Mitochondrial Preservation
- Nicotinamide Mononucleotide - Boost NAD+ Levels
- Cycloastragenol - The Telomerase Activator
- Pterostilbene or Resveratrol for Sirtuin Activation
- AGE-Breakers to fight glycation
- J-147 Preserves Mitochondrial and Brain Function
- Keeping Joints Healthy
- Testosterone, Estrogen, Cortisol and Insulin
- Antioxidants for Health
- Supplements for a Youthful Look
- Final thoughts
- Further Reading
Why are Athletes Performing Better for Longer?
What do you consider to be the age at which humans attain their physical peak?
While some sports such as gymnastics have historically been dominated by teenagers, and some endurance or technical sports would see athletes perform well into their 30’s or even their 40’s. Among the strength sports, we can see that Olympic lifters rarely do well past their 20’s, whereas powerlifters and bodybuilders will often not reach their peak until their 30’s.
Signs of Physical Deterioration to Address
The reasons behind this are largely due to different rates at which the aging process starts to compromise different biomotor abilities such as speed, muscle mass, strength, endurance, flexibility and coordination with sports requiring a high degree of speed or flexibility tending to be ones where you peak earlier. Of course, it is not just physical performance that deteriorates with age, so can appearance, body composition, mobility, cognitive function, joint integrity, hormonal status, insulin sensitivity, not to mention overall health.
However, one thing we can see in recent years is that regardless of the sport, athletes are frequently able to perform at a peak level for far longer than was considered the norm in the past.
To understand why this is, we need to understand what causes fitness to decline in the first place.
Causes of Physical Decline
While the thought of growing old may cause worries for some, to a large extent, the rate at which we age is dictated by more than just a remorseless biological clock. Instead, the decisions we make while we are younger; what we eat and when, how we exercise, how much sleep we get and the care we give our bodies inside and outplay a key role in determining the onset of age-related decline not to mention enabling us to reach our physical potential in the first place.
Going back to our sporting examples, it should be obvious that most athletes’ diets are much better than they were in the 20th century, while the use of supplements and training techniques are similarly more advanced. However, there is only so much that will influence the rate at which you can optimise your physical potential.
Cellular Aging - NAD+, Sirtuins, Telomeres and Mitochondrial Preservation
You probably already understand that both the aesthetic effects of aging, and the decline in organs and physical health that goes on beneath the surface, comes from cellular damage. Unfortunately, no matter how 'optimally' we choose to live our lifestyle, we cannot completely avoid this. Free radicals exist in the atmosphere regardless and we will always be exposed to some level of pollution and toxins. What we can do however, is manage how well prepared our body is to fight this damage. Four of the most promising fields of anti-aging research are NAD+, sirtuins, telomerase activators and how preserving mitochondrial function can slow down aging.
NAD+ levels decline as humans age and with lower NAD+ levels implicated in causing many of the signs of aging, upregulating NAD+ levels is critical to a successful anti-aging strategy. Fortunately, there is a great deal of research which has been undertaken on what we can do to mitigate or reverse NAD+ levels (for a full breakdown visit our writeup for the NMN supplement Immortal). By increasing NAD+ levels through NMN supplementation we can improve our insulin sensitivity, reverse mitochondrial dysfunction, promote greater energy with studies now being conducted to see if the life extending benefits of NMN supplementation extend to humans. However, to get the best out of NMN we need it to focus on the task of upregulating NAD+ levels and this means adding a dedicated sirtuin activator such as pterostilbene (included in Immortal) or resveratrol (not as efficient as pterostilbene in doing its job).
Sirtuin-1 is a protein in the human body which plays a part in cellular regulation and many aging related signalling pathways. SIRT1 activation is one way mooted to extend life and health span. Proper lifestyle including physical activity and diet can influence healthspan via increasing the level of sirtuins. Some supplements might also help activate these, with curcumin being of particular interest .
Telomere length is another marker of cellular aging. Diet and lifestyle factors can affect the rate at which telomeres shorten, with natural supplements also being of potential benefit. One of these is Astragulus (see our section on Cycloastragenol). Telomerase activation through natural molecules and a healthy lifestyle might be key in future management of aging-related diseases .
Mitochondria are considered the powerhouses of cellular energy since it is chemical energy produced by mitochondria that plays a key role in the ATP cycle. Mitochondrial function declines with age but this again is an area now where there is a supplement available to preserve function. Both NMN and a SIRT-1 activator play a key role in reversing mitochondrial dysfunction and brining back that youthful energy which all older people douibtless miss!
This leads us into what we can do, as generally healthy and active individuals, to support our longevity and fitness goals.
Nicotinamide Mononucleotide - Boost NAD+ Levels
Taking care of NAD+ is the most important aspect of any anti-aging regimen. No other factor associated with aging has as big a part to play as the decline in NAD+ levels. Unfortunately, NAD+ cannot simply be supplemented directly without being broken down too rapidly to be of any use. Initially, NR was used as a precursor to boosting NAD+ levels but in recent years more and more research as well as empirical evidence in human subjects, has proven conclusively, that nicotinamide mononucleotide or NMN, enjoys substantial advantages over NR and is now the standard by which all other NAD+ boosting ingredients will be measured against. You can read the dozens of studies compiled relating to NMN at the Immortal writeup page - we always encourage readers to read the source studies themselves to get a greater understanding of its potential.
Cycloastragenol - The Telomerase Activator
Cycloastragenol is the bioactive ingredient in Astragalus root extract, a supplement which has gained popularity in recent years but which few people know has poor bioavailability. This has led to research increasingly focused on cycloastragenol's ability to combat the fraying of telomeres that causes damage to cellular DNA . This damage causes DNA strands to become less functional and over time contributes to a reduced ability for humans to maintain physical and mental capacities. In addition, cycloastragenol has been shown to inhibit inflammatory processes that can reduce cellular apoptosis  and studied as a treatment for conditions ranging from skincare, regenerative medicine and improving wrinkles  on which note expect to soon see a new product to address this featuring topical cycloastragenol from the Hydrapharm brand.
Hydrapharm Cycloastragenol contains 5mg per capsule and is unique among cycloastragenol products in containing 99% active cycloastragenol content. This can be taken by men and women on a year-round basis with those under 40 benefitting from just 1-2 capsules daily and older individuals needing a slightly higher dose.
Pterostilbene or Resveratrol for Sirtuin Activation
Both Pterostilbene and Resveratrol are found in the skin of grapes. Whie resveratrol is arguably better known, it has a few key problems that means most anti-aging adherents tend to go with pterostilbene instead for sirtuin activiation. Pterostilbene enjoys a greater absorption rate (better bioavailability) as well as a longer half-life while research has shown it is both a more potent antioxidant and has greater anti-inflammatory effects than resveratrol. With both oxidation and inflammation associated with aging (both as a cause and an effect of aging prematurely) pterostilbene accomplishes these key tasks better than resveratrol. In addition, as a Sirtuin activator, supplementing with pterostilbene as included in Immortal, will enable the NMN in that formula to boost NAD+ levels with both highr sirtuin activation and higher NAD+ levels having complementary effects on each other.
Resveratrol has been long proposed as a life extension supplement predominantly based on animal trials but also based on two distinct mechanisms of action. One of these is as an antioxidant which we cover later but of more interest is its ability to activate the key SIRT1 protein by more than 10-fold . Mechanisms it works by that support this include reducing the occurrence of osteoporosis, changing how we produce fat cells, modulating blood pressure and protection from heart disease and insulin resistance. Through its antioxidant, anticarcinogenic, and anti-inflammatory properties, resveratrol has become a candidate for drug development in the context of aging studies. Resveratrol is also thought to mimic the beneficial effects of chronic and moderate calorie restriction , a practice which has studies showing positive benefits not to mention how sirtuin activators can mimic caloric restriction .
Two capsules of Predator Nutrition Resveratrol will provide 200mg Trans-Resveratrol. We would support this with a micronutrient rich diet (lots of fruits and vegetables) and some cardiovascular activity daily. For an even more effective way to ensure your body is absorbing a full dose, try R Spray by Prototype Nutrition. A topical spray that is applied directly to the skin!
Other than resveratrol, we are aware of plans by Hydrapharm to release a dual-action anti-aging supplement based around BOTH telomerase and sirtuin activation.
AGE-Breakers to fight glycation
Glycation is a process where carbohydrates, especially sugars, but other factors also cause an accumulation of advanced glycating end products (AGEs). Unfortunately, AGEs play a significant role in the aging process through a pathway which is independent of the ones covered already and AGEs play a particularly profound role in how well our skin ages, not to mention being a direct culprit in the onset and deterioration of a number of diseases. . In fact, they act as a biomarker for how rapidly we age  and due to the most abundant reservoir of AGEs being found in collagen (a major component of our skin) then you will not be surprised to see its deleterious impact is particularly profound in skin .
Fortunately, the Hydrapharm cosmetic Elixium is capable of tackling this issues thanks to its inclusion of the AGE-breaker alagebrium and we encourage all those interested in knowing more about how to improve skin tone, texture, and improve the apperance of fine lines and wrinkles to read the full write-up for Elixium.
J-147 Preserves Mitochondrial and Brain Function
You may want to combine with other neuroprotective supplements such as J-147. J-147 is derived from curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric. Unlike curcumin, it can cross the blood-brain barrier very successfully. J-147 works by binding to ATP synthase. The overproduction of ATP has links to the aging process. J-47 can control this in addition to increasing levels of the neurotransmitters NGF and BDNF.
In studies performed using J-147 it has been shown to keep neurons alive when exposed to cellular stress, blocks damage to brain cells, and helps to reverse the degradation in mitochondrial function that is associated with aging.
We have a full article on just this compound if you wish to read more about J-147 anti-aging benefits.
Keeping Joints Healthy
After many years of heavy and hard training, it is common for joint pain to become an issue. In addition to regular physical therapy and a good warm up routine, supplements can help manage inflammation and improve recovery in bones and joints.
There are several ingredients that can be of use, from cissus to curcumin and omegas. Another group of supplements you might have heard of is peptides. BPC-157 is a peptide chain consisting of 15 amino acids. It may have protective effects.
Unbreakable by Hydrpharm contains orally active BPC-157. BPC has been shown to strengthen tendons and ligaments and may enhance their healing rate following injury. It might also possess the ability to hasten the healing of muscle tears, broken bones, and other more severe injuries. You will notice the effects of Unbreakable within days, with the best results being seen through continuous use.
Testosterone, Estrogen, Cortisol and Insulin
To a degree, changes in body composition as we get older will come from changes such as less activity and less time focussed on diet due to changes in priorities, such as focussing on career or family. More important though is the role of four key hormones that regulate both anabolism/catabolism and body composition - testosterone, estrogen, cortisol and insulin:
Testosterone - regulates muscle mass, and strength while also helping to increase motivation and libido.
Estrogen - As we age, with more body fat comes more aromatase enzyme which in turn increases the rate at which we accumulate fat. At the same time, lower testosterone with more converting to estrogen additionally means estrogen is not only an output of more body fat but also a driver of it.
Cortisol -A stress hormone, the ratio between testosterone and cortisol plays a vital role in how much muscle mass we gain or how much body fat we shed. Indeed, if you were to take a prohormone,the muscle building benefits are coming not only from testosterone which increases protein synthesis but by the fact prohormones reduce cortisol which lowers the rate of muscle breakdown. Therefore, net protein synthesis goes up much higher than would be the case if testosterone did not also reduce cortisol. For natural bodybuilders, this means that as much as you want to increase testosterone and lower estrogen for better gains, you will also need to control cortisol or else you lose many of the aforementioned benefits of both.
Insulin - Insulin acts as a storage hormone playing the key role in ensuring amino acids ingested via your diet are used for building muscle. As anyone who has embarked upon a low carbohydrate diet (which leads to a fall in insulin levels) can attest, it is harder to gain muscle on it. Simply, less insulin = less muscle however the reason many reduce carbohydrates in the first place is because of increased body fat seen. You see, insulin not only regulates muscle mass it also drives calories from your diet into your fat cells.
We can better optimise the function of insulin by taking a supplement which helps insulin to work better. In conjunction with a good diet and training program (which also improves insulin sensitivity), taking a glucose disposal agent means we help our body to handle food, especially carbohydrates better meaning more calories going to fill out your muscles.
In practical terms, the supplement Alchemy is one which helps optimise for testosterone, estrogen and cortisol so by pairing this with a glucose disposal agent (GDA) we are doing everything we can to boost how well these four hormones work.
For insulin sensitivity, we’d recommend Elixir. Hydrapharm's Elixir features four unique ingredients, each of which support the body in more efficiently metabolising carbohydrates, to avoid blood sugar spikes and deliver nutrients where we want them – to the muscles. Take 1-2 capsules at a time for up to 4 capsules per day with your highest carb meals. Read more on the best GDA supplements here.
Antioxidants for Health
We glossed over pterostilbene and resveratrol's antioxidant effects earlier but antioxidants play a vital role in supporting health by helping to neutralise pro-oxidising free radicals that would otherwise cause damage to your cells. Free radicals are stress linked and that is both mental AND physical meaning that for those of us who exercise, we will produce higher levels of these cellular toxins. Fortunately, other than resveratrol we have a wide array of other nutrients that can help to offset free radical damage including including NAC, COQ10 and vitamin C. Indeed, vitamin C is one compound which not only acts as an antioxidant, it can also help to keep cortisol levels under control even for hard training weightlifters .
Supplements for a Youthful Look
Supplements can help us keep a firm and glowing look to the skin, as well as strong and healthy hair and nails.
We would advise Vitamin E for skin and Biotin for hair and nails. Biotin has been found to be a component of nails, skin, and hair to a relatively high degree, which means it may improve the quality of these. Vitamin E increases the skin’s antioxidant reserves and absorbs ultraviolet radiation. It also seems to help hair loss in some cases. Both can be found in Hydrazine Nootrovit.
Collagen is another supplement that can be beneficial. Hydrolyzed collagen is taken in doses of around 10g a day for skin health and some benefits to joints and can be taken with meals. Genius Beauty contains collagen as part of its formula.
Watch this space - as Hydrapharm have an anti-aging cosmetics line in the works which will feature ingredients including Cycloastragenol!
There are many factors that can play into how quickly and dramatically we age. If you are reading this, we would assume that you are already somebody who is active and consumes a generally healthy and balanced diet with some health supplements on top.
In addition to this, we’d consider how well you sleep, how well you manage stress and your ability to practice enjoying something like a glass of wine or a ‘less clean’ meal or treat in moderation.
We hope that this article gave you some ideas for supplements to implement that you might not already be taking. If you feel we’ve missed anything, please do let us know!
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About the Author
Savannah is part of the team here at Predator. Her qualifications include a degree in Sport and Exercise Nutrition alongside a background working in the supplement industry. She has also been actively competing in bodybuilding competitions since 2016.