Posted by: cal | 2004/10/11

animal pak

son is 17 years and 8 months old and training in gym. he just started using animal pack-2 servings a day. want to know if it's ok and if there is anything to worry about. please answer in a way that he'l understand what's the pro's and the cons...

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Our expert says:
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Hi Cal

I must confess that I am not familiar with the brand name Animal Pack. I looked for it on the net, and found some information, but it is sketchy at best (which, as I'll explain, is reason enough to avoid the product). What I was able to find says that Animal pack, as I'm sure you know, is a combination of minerals, enzymes and amino acids, which basically means it is a protein 'cocktail'.

I am a firm believer in the idea that you first train, then train, then train, and then have a good diet, and then as an absolute last resort (and I mean last resort), you turn to supplements. This is particularly the case with protein. Our diets are very very rarely too low in protein. In fact, they are often slightly on the high side, and so I really believe that for a boy of 17, supplementation is not needed when he has just started training.

The only times that I would ever agree with supplementation is when someone is training SERIOUSLY hard and may benefit from increasing their energy and their nutrient intake, or when somebody is trying to build muscle and then may need to take in more protein. However, research shows that the most your body can use is about 2 g per kg of body weight. Therefore, if your son weighs 70 kg, then he needs at most about 140 to 150 g of protein per day. There is a lot of research that shows that if you take in more than this, all you do is get rid of what is in excess. Therefore, a financial consideration comes into it. If your son is eating well, he is probably getting about 140 g per day anyway. He can then take supplements, but you must realise that the chances are that they won't be doing anything - it's been said that people who overdo it on the supplementation have expensive urine because that's where much of the money goes.

Now, perhaps the more important point is this. The supplement market is structured in such a way that companies do not need to test products before they appear on the shelves. Medicine is different, because every product is tested and tested in clinical trials so that they can know exactly what the side effects are - you just have a look at the little package insert in a box of prescription medicine and you will see that they know exactly what the drug causes, how to treat it etc. Look at supplements - nothing, because they are not tested. I searched as well as I know how to find something about the product and all I could find on the Internet is advertising which is of course biased. So, the problem is that when you ask are there side effects, the answer is I don't know. No one knows. There may be, perhaps in 10 years problems will start appearing.

I can say that from the list of ingredients that i was able to find, your biggest risk on this product is probably that you just excrete most of it, like I explained. However, an excessive intake of protein has been linked with kidney problems, because the kidneys have to deal with all the protein that the body takes in. Therefore, go easy on the doses if you do go with.

I hope this clears it up for. i guess the conclusion is that I don't believe that these products are required, especially for a 17 year old who has just begun to tap into what training can do, and I don't know what the possible side effects because the product is shrouded in mystery. However, there is probably little risk in taking it at the recommended dose, provided he trains very well and you are prepared to accept that perhaps 90% of what he takes in is not going to be used, but gotten rid of by the body as excess.


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