HIV positive and bodybuilding
Every time I visit my gym there is this guy I always greet. He is always smiling and always on time for his training. Everytime I see him I feel something in me wanting to reach out to him. He is just this bag of bones. Month after month this little muscle he has is withering away even further. He tries his best to train hard, but in vain…I don’t know for sure, but I have a strong feeling he is fighting against HIV infection. My heart goes out to this guy and many times he has been in my prayers.
I am not blessed with my mouth, it is the most difficult thing for me to talk to a stranger. My blessings are in writing and researching subjects objectively. I just so hope that this article somehow lands on his computer or the very least someone else’s where it can make a difference…
HIV infection is all around us, we just don’t know about it. No-one wants to talk about it. Those that have it can even talk less about it…in fear. It is a lonely and heavy burden for any person to carry and a painful one.
Many people in the past used to point a finger…”they deserve it!”, but remember how Christ treated the woman who has just been caught with adultery and where brought in front of Him? For the one finger you point to someone, 10 will point back to you. Let those without sin cast the first stone…
Seeing that guy at my gym day after day and me failing to have the ability to go and chat to him to help him, I decided I need to write an article for HIV+ people who don’t know where to turn too.
I did a lot of research, spoke to many doctors who specialize in HIV treatment and have also spoken to some people who are positive. What I say here can make a big difference for the HIV sufferer.
But before I start with the article, let’s get one thing straight. No matter who tells you what, or who makes what claim, THERE IS NO ALTERNATIVE to taking HIV medication.
You don’t have time to experiment with your life…the line has been drawn. NOTHING can substitute your HIV medication. So the assumption I make with this article is that you will be on HIV medication and you are taking it EXACTELY as prescribed. Yes the medication has sometimes some serious side effects. You must work through those side-effects together with your doctor. Do NOT stop the medication unless your doctor instructs you to. On this note: You MUST make sure you get a very skilled HIV treatment doctor. Talk around, call universities medical departments, search on internet, but make sure your doctor is VERY skilled. Your life will depend on it.
Later on in the article I will cover one particular side effect – Lipodystrophy and will briefly touch on others.
My main aim with this article will be to show the HIV positive person how to lead a quality life…one even waaay better than before.
The article will be divided in the following 2 sections:
- I am aware of death now…
- How to increase the gap as wide as possible between awesome living and death.
I am aware of death now…
Suddenly death is a close reality for you. Time cannot be wasted anymore. Every moment must be spent rejoicing in life.
You cannot live irresponsible anymore. You received a wakeup call.
My friend, 8 years ago I had my own unique wakeup call and nearly died – you can read about it in my first blog post. I used that opportunity to change EVERYTHING in my life.
- time is precious,
- my wife is precious,
- my child is precious,
- my family is precious,
- every day is precious,
- I will NOT waste it anymore.
I changed my eating habits, I started training intensely and I changed the person who I am on the inside. Seeing my reflection in that mirror, I can truly say I like what I see, outside and inside.
I settled my bill with God and has walked a long road with Him since. This is YOUR opportunity.
Do you realize not many people get such a great opportunity…a wake up call?
You have been blessed my friend – you just don’t know it yet, you can change what need to be changed and you can become the best you can be on ALL levels. Grab this opportunity with everything you have and you WILL live a life truly worth living.
This is THE most important point you must accept. You have received a great blessing. How you are going to use this blessing will decide what person you will become.
You CAN have an awesome live, a life where you’ve made right with God, a life where you look the best you looked ever, a life where you start seeing the people in need and start making a difference, a life truly WORTH living!
Surround yourself with people who only adds to your goal post. Cut those out that break you down and pull you in the wrong direction…just make sure your aim is in the right direction.
Don’t surround you with people who make you just feel good. Life is not about feeling good, it is about a life WORTH living.
Listen to music that built you up, read books that feed your soul, care for your neighbour…
So you might be married and desire kids oneday? Nothing is stopping you. Many married couples have conceived naturally under the guidance of a doctor. Under hiv medication your viral load becomes undetectable and with a high CD4 the risk is VERY LOW when penetration is done once at time of ovulation. (Risk less than 1 in 10 000 for woman to become infected…that is very low).
As with ALL things in life…the choice is yours. If you are reading this article then you are already busy making that choice…
How to increase the gap as wide as possible between awesome living & death.
After making the choice of will in point one I will move on to more practical points for obtaining an awesome life for the HIV positive person.
The aspects to be covered:
a) growing muscle – why?
b) eating for survival.
c) supplement for healthy immune system
d) anabolics and human growth hormone
A) Growing muscle – why?
Ok, first of all you gonna look kick-ass! (I refer to my post “Get motivsted for training” http://gertlouw.wordpress.com/2013/02/01/get-motivated-for-training/ )
Secondly, the bottom line is, the more muscle mass you carry as a hiv+ person, the better your chances of survival.
Let me explain: Due to a compromised immune system hiv+ people can get more frequent and sometimes very severe bacteria infections. This can happen anywhere, anytime. You can go white water rafting and get thrown over in the water and take just one mouthful of water and you can potentially become very (very!) sick ending up in hospital for 2 weeks due to bacteria infection.
Obviously the higher your CD4 count the less your risk.
Everytime such a sever bacterial infection occurs, you will lose anywhere from 2- 10 kgs in muscle weight. Since the muscles carry the primary energy source for you immune system (Glutamine), it is critical that a HIV+ person has very healthy muscle mass and the more he has the better his long-term changes of survival.
When a HIV+ person lose too much muscle weight, his body cannot provide Glutamine to feed the immune system. Sadly this is one of the MAIN reasons of death for HIV+ people.
It is thus not for “looks” but CRITICAL that every hiv+ guy start doing bodybuilding.
In my research I ran across quite a few highly skilled hiv doctors who unashamedly support any safe means for the hiv+ person to increase muscle size to above average levels even with the help of anabolic steroids where necessary…but more on that later.
Don’t listen to the average house doctor telling you there is no need for a hiv+ person to have more than average muscle size. With much respect, he does NOT know what he is talking about. It is basic common sense that, the more muscle mass a hiv+ person carries the better his/her long-term survival ability – full stop!
Doing regular exercise will further enhance the immune system.
Some research have shown that severe excise might actually hamper the immune system.
But you should enter in the bodybuilding arena in a step by step fashion. Slowly increase intensity and duration. It helps the body get accustomed to the excercise and builts up endurance and stamina. Feeding the body for growth and supplement with all the listed supplements will keep the body and immune system healthy (+ taking your HIV medication). In such a scenario there is no reason why you cannot do fairly strenuous workouts for muscle growth.
Hiv+ bodybuilders might find it slightly more difficult to build muscle than hiv- people…but the differences is very slight. Obviously the stronger the immune system the lesser the impact.
Go for it and built those muscles!
Having a strong good-looking body will further help you feel positive and good about yourself.
Excercise is well-known for releasing all the feel good hormones…you need it!
Lastly, excercise is also a great way to release stress. Having the constant reminder of being hiv+ will be taking its toll, working out will help you to mentally cope better.
b) Eating to survive.
The general thought is that the hiv+ person need a higher calorie diet because of the strain the infection puts on the body and resulting energy required to fight it.
Though this might be true for the hiv+ person who have a highly compromised immune system (below 300 CD4 count) it is not really applicable to the hiv+ person with a strong immune system and undetectable viral load. For such people they can pretty much stick to the eating guidelines I’ve already laid down in my previous articles:
Diet is for LOSERS http://gertlouw.wordpress.com/2013/01/27/diet-is-for-losers/
Supercharging your metabolism http://gertlouw.wordpress.com/2013/02/10/340/
My Transformation Program http://gertlouw.wordpress.com/2010/12/30/hello-world/
My bodybuilding.com interview http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/body-transformation-body-gospel-according-to-gert.html
The key is to feed your body every 3-4 hours with a small balanced meal containing a clean protein source. See above articles for eating regimen details.
C) Supplements for healthy immune system
A supplement which must be avoided at all costs for the hiv+ individual is echinacea. Echinacea “feeds” the hiv virus and will result in a massive increase in your viral load.
A critical supplement for the HIV+ person. Suggested dosages: 4 x 5g spread out during day.
Glutamine feeds the immune system. Without Gutamine our immune system cannot function.
Since Glutamine is primarily stored in the muscles, one can easily see why it is critical for the HIV+ person to have a healthy muscle mass…in fact, the more the better.
This extract from www.thebody.com gives the best accounts of glutamine
“Normally, nutrition provides enough antioxidants to combat “oxidative stress” and neutralize the “free radicals.” But under continuous siege by HIV, the need for anti-oxidants begins to grow beyond what a regular diet can provide. Wasting is one result — muscle tissue is rich in glutamine. The body starts breaking down muscle to fight the “oxidative stress.” Another result is a higher viral load, because HIV thrives in an environment rich in free radicals. Some nutritionists have begun to call glutamine a “conditionally essential” nutrient.
A recent study of about 100 PWAS, mostly men with less than 200 T-cells, done by Drs. Leonore and Leonard Herzenberg at Stanford University, found that glutathione levels are directly linked to survival. 85% of those who started the study with high glutathione levels survived the three-year-long study while only 18% with low levels did. It isn’t known whether low glutathione levels cause or quicken disease progression or if they are a symptom of some other process — however supplementation to increase glutathione levels in cells is increasingly popular. Glutathione is also crucial for liver health.
Some recent studies have suggested that taking glutathione itself can raise the glutathione levels in immune cells.
A recent study in the Lancet, for example, reported that glutamine supplementation significantly decreased the incidence of pneumonia, and other life-threatening infections like bacteremia and septicemia, for patients with multiple traumas and who were being fed intravenously. In the study, only 17% of patients on glutamine got pneumonia, compared to 45% of the participants who were not on glutamine. 7% on glutamine contracted bacteremia, while 42% of the non-glutamine group did. Finally, 3% (one person!) of those in the glutamine group experienced sepsis, compared to 26% of the non-glutamine group.
The effect of glutamine on the gut is pretty well documented because supplementation has been found useful not only for people with HIV, but with other conditions that require intravenous feeding like severe bums and intestinal surgery.
Studies of people with other conditions have found that glutamine supplementation speeds recoveryand can even restore firm, healthy stools to people who have only inches (of a former 21 feet!) of intestine remaining.
Most people think the intestine is just an organ needed for the elimination of waste, but in fact, it is a crucial part of the immune system. Like people with HIV, cancer patients on chemotherapy often suffer severe diarrhea. Charles Smigelski, RD, a nutritionist and researcher at Harvard University, reports seeing a cancer chemo patient who had disabling diarrhea for six months. Within a week on glutamine, his bowel movements were normal.
Smigelski is high on glutamine and other antioxidant supplements for people with HIV. He has about I 00 HIV patients in his practice that are supplementing with glutamine and says, “Most people report that they feel better on every level. It improves their energy, it reduces diarrhea, and it’s hugely useful in wasting and dealing with oxidative stress. A ton of people swear by it.”
Smigelski believes that such supplementation may be able to prevent or reduce lipodystrophy (“Crix belly”), thought to be a side effect of protease inhibitors. His patients find it useful for diarrhea caused by protease inhibitors as well. “A very common experience is that someone will have protease related diarrhea. Immodium will stop the explosive diarrhea that often comes before people can get to the bathroom, but it won’t firm the stools or reduce frequency. Glutamine, which I use in combination with probiotics (natural gut bacteria like acidophilus, lactobacillus, etc.), firms the stools. It really improves quality of life.”
Body builders also tout glutamine because it is anabolic (builds muscles). A poster presented by Dr. Shabert at this year’s International Conference on AIDS in Geneva reports that patients with wasting given 40 grams a day of glutamine (along with NAC, vitamins C and E, selenium and beta-carotene) gained an average of 1.7 kilograms (3.75 lbs) in lean body mass in 12 weeks. Patients in the control group were given glycine (another amino acid protein) and a multivitamin and they did not gain similarly.”
POTENT Multi – Vitamin:
Your body is under much more pressure due to the HIV infection. A “normal” multi vitamin for hiv- individuals will not do. You need a daily POTENT one. The only one’s really sufficient I know off is: Animal Pak Multi Vitamin and OPTI-MEN Multi Vitamin (Take one dosage daily with meals). There may be more but make sure they contain significant more RDA dosages than the average multi vitamin. Must be taken with food for good absorption.
Vitamin C is one of the cornerstone supplements for the HIV+ individual. It ‘s benefits in fighting of infections is well documented. Take a slow release version not less than 2000mg per day. 1G after morning meal and 1g after evening meal. Must be taken with food for good absorption.
Alpha Lipoic Acid:
Recommend dosage: 200 mg. lipoic acid capsule three times per day
The following extract from www.hepatitiscfree.com gives a good overview of the importance of ALA.
“Alpha-lipoic acid is an antioxidant used in Europe to restore liver health. It confers protective benefits against oxidative processes involved in degenerative diseases. It is more potent than vitamins C, E, and Co-Q10, and according to Dr. Ester Packer, professor of molecular biology at UC Berkley, alpha-lipoic acid may be the most important antioxidant ever discovered:
|Vitamins C, E and glutathione work together to deactivate and prevent free radicals from causing uncontrolled damage in the body. But at this stage we run into a limiting factor regarding availability of glutathione, which is an important free-radical deactivator offering protection against cataract formation, as well as immune enhancement, liver protection, cancer protection, and heavy-metal detoxification.When taken orally like Vitamins C and E, glutathione is broken down in the stomach before it reaches the bloodstream. What does end up being absorbed can raise serum levels, but the effect inside of the cells is minimal.Alpha-lipoic acid is the missing link. Not only is ALA a powerful antioxidant in its own right, but it also regenerates glutathione, giving cells a double dose of antioxidant protection. In addition, it is easily absorbed when taken orally, and once inside cells it is quickly converted to its most potent form, dihydrolipoic acid, which is an even more potent free-radical neutralizer than ALA. Because both alpha-lipoic acid and dihydrolipoic acid are antioxidants, their combined actions give them greater antioxidant potency than any other natural antioxidant now known.Scientists have also found that lipoic acid can inhibit replication of HIV-1 and other viruses through its ability to bind directly to DNA. (47)
Dr. Packer and Chandan K. Sen, a researcher from Finland, have described how alpha-lipoic acid regulates aspects of the immune system, and in particular, immune cells called T-lymphocytes. These two researchers, along with other scientists, have reported how alpha-lipoic acid may help people with HIV:
|ALA inhibits growth of HIV more effectively than NAC (N-Acetyl Cysteine) ….alpha-lipoic acid completely inhibited activation of a gene in the AIDS virus that allows it to reproduce. “
d) Anabolic steroids and Human Growth hormone.
If ever, for any group of people the use of anabolic steroids and HGH is recommended, then it is for HIV+ people.
Some medical doctors do not really support this notion, but talk to any highly skilled hiv physician and he/she is much more open to the idea. Simply because due to the nature of the disease having excess muscle mass will have a great positive effect on your long-term survival. Remember our earlier discussion about Glutamine and bacterial infection?Thus, although some doctors might still not support the idea, I will stick my neck out here and blatantly claim that the correct use of anabolic steroids can have a great positive effect for the hiv+ person. I refer to my article “To Steroid or Not” http://gertlouw.wordpress.com/2013/01/31/to-steroid-or-not/
Remember this guy I saw training at my gym who is just a bag of bones…? Anabolic Steroids could be a LIFESAVING tool for him! For those seeking more info, please contact me.
A common side effect when hiv+ people start medication is nausea/vomiting/diarrhea. This can go on for months before the body get used to the medication. During this time the person can lose a rather severe amount of muscle mass (something that must be avoided at all cost). It is very difficult to prevent it. However a certain anabolic steroid, Primobolan Depot (one of the safest steroids available), has been known to protect muscle wasting when the body experience a very low-calorie intake. Taking this anabolic during the side effect period might just help you losing a lot of your precious muscle mass.
HGH or human growth hormone is mostly use in cases where a hiv+ individual develop a hiv medication side effect, lipodystrophy. Usually when hiv+ people develop this side effect they have to stop or alter their medication. HGH might help get the lipodystrophy fat layer down slightly but in most cases it has only but a mild effect to get the condition under control.
I do not want to make this article to lengthy.
I rather proclaim my availability to help people who have more detailed questions – see my CONTACT ME page:
Should you just wish me to pray for you…let me know.
Wish you a healthy living