East Jefferson General Hospital

Yankees star third baseman Alex Rodriguez, who has been rehabbing in Florida from offseason hip surgery, has been " linked to a shuttered Florida anti-aging clinic." It appears that Major League Baseball is attempting to uncover whether or not Rodriguez and 19 other MLB players may have used banned substances to enhance their performance.

In many cases, when issues like this one appear in pro sports, it usually centers on building muscle. A lean and hard physique is something that many athletes, as well as, everyday people strive for, while only a handful of people actually obtain this ideal body goal.

Why, then, do others fall flat? In short: an individual's diet does not correlate with their body composition (a registered dietitian would fix this) combined with an inadequate use of exercise.

In my book, "Lean & Hard: The Body You've Always Wanted in Just 24 Workouts" (John Wiley & Sons, 2007), I show you the correct way to increase lean muscle mass, while helping to shed excess body fat through a scripted six week blend of high-intensity (sprint intervals) and resistance training. More important, I give the reader step-by-step instructions on proper eating guidelines designed for specific body weights, along with the correct supplementation usage to give your muscle-building efforts every advantage in stimulating muscle growth, as constructed by a registered dietitian and approved first by your physician.

When trying to build more muscle, know this: You cannot do it without adequate protein intake. Protein is the building block of muscle, and it's what stimulates new tissue growth, while preventing muscle breakdown. Research has shown that higher-protein diets, based on individual protein requirements, result in greater weight (fat) loss, while promoting a greater retention of lean body mass, especially as we age.

Now you know that protein is essential, but with so many different types out there, which one is best under these circumstances to supplement in support of a balanced diet?

Whey protein is ideal for any athlete or individual seeking to achieve or support lean body mass. Why? Whey, as opposed to proteins like casein or soy, is fast acting, meaning the process of protein synthesis (process in which cells build protein) happens at a faster rate. This, of course, is ideal for the recovery process after muscles are fatigued due to high intensity training (HIT). Whey protein also contains a high concentration of branch-chained amino acids -- essential for muscle growth and maintenance.

Speaking of amino acids, glutamine is a must during this period of HIT. Glutamine is an amino acid that is vital to protein synthesis, muscle function and repair, while also providing digestive efficiency and a healthy immune system.

When an individual places stress on the body due to HIT, the body's glutamine stores are diminished because as the muscle tissue (where glutamine is stored) breaks down, it releases more of this amino acid to recover.

In addition to the above supplements, I would seek a performance nutrition based carbohydrate known as maltodextrin. Maltodextrin, such as what you find in a sports drink (like Powerade) is a very concentrated carbohydrate that is a great a source of pure energy that cells in your body can draw upon during a strenuous training session. My registered dietitian at The Fitness Principle at East Jefferson General Hospital, Jodie Muhleisen, would suggest taking this supplement 30-60 minutes before a workout, in combination with whey protein, to help prevent muscle loss during exercise, and to accelerate muscle recovery during training.

However, it is important to note that maltodextrins may not recommended for diabetics or people with hypoglycemia, obesity or other such disorders taken alone. If you have any of these conditions, I strongly recommend you seek your doctor's approval before using it in a pre- or post-workout beverage.

For anyone who is not new to this material, and has concerns about adding creatine monohydrate into the mix, let me say this: Creatine, while proven to be beneficial for muscular strength gains, is, in my opinion, not intended for the use by any individual under the age of 18, or for anyone who has not been evaluated for healthy kidney and liver function.

In my many years of experience, I have noticed that creatine is one of the most misused supplements on the market. I would say roughly 90 percent of the people who buy creatine do not understand what the supplement does or how to effectively use it.

According to Baylor University's Richard B. Kreider, PhD, make sure what you have is a pharmaceutical-grade creatine. Load by ingesting 0.3g/kg/day for three days (ex. 5g taken four times a day), and follow the loading phase by taking 2-5g of creatine a day in order to maintain your newly elevated creatine stores. I suggest that the supplementation period be caped around six weeks with medical approval.

Muhleisen agrees, "I have seen great outcomes working with clients following Mackie's Lean and Hard Program.

"It's amazing to see the client's loss of body fat and increase in lean body mass after completing the six-week program."

If you're serious about building muscle, and if you've decided to give it everything you've got, then I commend you. Motivation is the first step, and if you can achieve that, you can surely achieve your goals.

Remember, however, to consult with your physician before starting any new workout regimen and discuss interactions with supplements and certain medications you may be taking. For more information, find my book "Lean & Hard, " or come in and speak with us at The Fitness Principle at East Jefferson General Hospital.