calm complete strength

Posted 1 year ago


It’s no secret that stress is something very real in today’s society. Not only that, but it is usually held at chronically high levels. Whether it be bills, your job, family or another matter, we’ve all felt stressed at some point. There might be some of you wondering, how do I know if I am stressed and what does it do to my body? How is stress related to my physique goals?

This is something I’d like to discuss at length in this article. But the ultimate aim is to discuss the anti-stress product, Calm by Complete Strength and how it can help you lower your overall stress levels, and ultimately help you achieve better results.

What is stress?

Can you think of a time in which you’ve been in an extremely stressful situation, and all of a sudden you’ve felt your heartbeat increase, your breathing rate quicken and you’ve felt ready to either run or attack or freeze? This is your body’s normal response to perceived danger (aka a stressor). It is an evolutionary response that is there to keep you alive. Thousands of years ago you may have suddenly needed adrenaline and more blood being pumped to your limbs you could run away from predators in a split second, throw a spier at the enemy, or hide and stay still till danger goes away. Your stress response essentially evolved to help you do that and stay alive.

Of course, in cavemen and cavewomen times, this was incredibly useful. Unfortunately, the stress response evolved as an acute response to danger, whereas nowadays (unless you’re a zookeeper) you’ll never run into a tiger, and most of us live life chronically stressed. Why does this matter? Well, because chronic stress isn’t as intense as acute stress, it can take a lot longer to notice, but our stress response and its subsequent effects did not evolve to be continuously running in the background. In fact, being chronically stressed has deleterious effects on most bodily systems as well as mental processes, and as such, remains a big issue for society-level health and wellbeing.

Why is that bad?

The physiological changes that happen during an acute stress response are there to help you stay alive, but if you’re sitting at a desk, your body certainly doesn’t need those changes when there is no danger around. As such, the response isn’t congruent with the presented or perceived danger, so the resources the body employs are not fit for purpose.

Some of those physiological changes that occur include increased levels of cortisol, increased levels of adrenaline, increased blood glucose levels, increased muscle breakdown, increased heart rate and breathing rate.

Cortisol itself is the main stress hormone released, and although we need it for survival, when it stays elevated, it causes a few problems. Firstly, it promotes muscle breakdown and directly goes against muscle building. As such, as physique athletes, this is something we want to avoid elevating at all costs, unless we are exercising. It can negatively impact blood glucose levels, causing them to stay elevated throughout the day. This can lead to glucose being shuttled into fat stores more readily than to muscle tissue, which again can negatively impact on your physique development.

On top of all this, cortisol can play havoc on your appetite stimulating pathway and lead you to have more cravings. This is mainly because food can actually lower cortisol levels, so when your body is sending cravings, it’s doing it for a reason. If you’re dieting for a show/shoot, being stressed can therefore affect dietary adherence and lead to overeating.

Adrenaline is great when you’re training but outwith that, it can simply have a negative impact on your sleep, meaning you’ll sleep less and/or have a poor quality of sleep. As sleep is so crucial to our body’s ability to rest and recover, we want to ensure adrenaline levels aren’t elevated the closer we get to sleep.

Although we need a stress response to stay alive, having this response activated constantly is pretty terrible if you’re trying to be in an optimal position to lose body fat and add muscle mass. This is where companies such as Complete Strength have come up with a product, Calm, that can help your body lower overall cortisol levels and stress in the body, to help you achieve the physique you work so hard for.

How does it work?

The Calm ingredients panel (Figure 1) has been extensively researched and has been shown to have the desired effect on reducing stress on the body. To give you a clear understanding of how it achieves this, we will go through each ingredient individually and discuss it’s benefits.

Figure 1

KSM-66 Ashwagandha
KSM-66 is simply a patent for the highest concentration of ashwagandha on the market. It’s a herb whose name (ashwa for horse and gandha for smell) is owed to the root which has a horse like smell [1]. Ashwagandha is valued for its thyroid-modulating, neuroprotective, anti-anxiety, antidepressant and anti-inflammatory properties, which are just some of its many benefits.

There is supporting evidence of its physiologically calming effects which has emerged from rodent studies, which is encouraging given that we share 85% of our DNA makeup with mice. For example, in rats and mice, ashwagandha root extract seemed to stop the rise in lipid peroxidation (a process that can cause cell damage) caused by bacteria-induced stress [3]. In addition, a study with 64 human participants found that “Ashwagandha root extract safely and effectively improves an individual’s resistance towards stress and thereby improved self-assessed quality of life”[4]. Another study discovered that ashwagandha successfully regulated thyroid levels in “subclinical thyroid patients” [5]. People with sub clinical thyroid levels tend to have issues with weight loss, suggesting that this could be improved by regulating overall stress levels too.

Other studies have shown its benefits in the following domains [6]:

  • Treat adrenal fatigue
  • Reduce anxiety and depression
  • Increase stamina and endurance
  • Prevent and treat cancer
  • Reduce brain cell degeneration
  • Stabilize blood sugar
  • Lower cholesterol
  • Boost immunity

Rhodiola Rosea Powder
Known as the “golden root” or “artic root” in Europe and Asia, this is an adaptogenic herb (class of healing plants) used to promote good health, strength, endurance and physical and mental performance [7].

One study investigated the effects of Rhodiola extract in 101 people with life- and work-related stress [8]. Participants were given 400 mg per day for four weeks. The study found significant improvements in symptoms of stress, such as fatigue, exhaustion and anxiety, after just three days. These improvements continued throughout the study.

This herb has also been shown to combat depression, which is usually characterised by chemical imbalances at neurotransmitters in the brain. Rhodiola works by balancing these chemicals at neurotransmitters thus having anti-depressant properties [9].

Other benefits show that it [10]:
-Reduces mental fatigue
-Improves exercise performance
-Lower blood sugar
-Has anti-cancer properties

Bacopa is a plant that has been used for centuries in traditional Indian Ayurvedic medicine. It’s commonly used for treatment in Alzheimer disease, memory and thinking skills (cognitive function) and reducing anxiety. It works by increasing certain brain chemicals that are involved in thinking, learning, and memory [11].

It contains powerful antioxidants: these are substances that help protect cells against harmful chemicals. Those chemicals can be linked to chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers [12]. Similar to ashwagandha, it seems to stop the rise in lipid peroxidation (as process that can cause cell damage and is linked to Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative disorders [13].

Other benefits show it:
-Reduces blood pressure
-Has anti-cancer properties

L-theanine is an amino acid found primarily in green and black tea and some mushrooms. It’s said to help ease anxiety, stress, and reduce insomnia [14].

In a review of five studies that included 104 participants, four trials linked L-theanine with reduced stress and anxiety in people experiencing stressful situations [15]. Not only this, but it has also been shown to increase immunity and prevent the flu [16].

Other benefits included lowering blood pressure. An increase in blood pressure is often caused be adrenaline during a stress response too, so as you can see, a lot of the ingredients in Calm are aiding in keeping blood pressure from rising.

Curcumin and Black pepper extract
Curcumin is the main active ingredient in turmeric. It has powerful anti-inflammatory properties and is a very strong antioxidant [17]. Unfortunately, curcumin is poorly absorbed into the bloodstream. It helps to consume black pepper with it, which contains piperine, a natural substance that enhances the absorption of curcumin by 2000% [18].

Chronic and low-level inflammation play a major role in almost every chronic, Western disease. Therefore, anything that can help fight chronic inflammation is of potential importance in preventing and even treating these diseases. Curcumin’s strong anti-inflammatory properties have been shown to be just as effective as some anti-inflammatory drugs, without the side effects [19].

Lemon Balm Extract
Lemon balm is a lemon-scented herb that comes from the same family as mint and has traditionally been used to improve mood and cognitive function.

It can soothe symptoms of stress and help you relax. One study found that taking lemon balm eased the negative mood effects of laboratory-induced psychological stress. Participants who took lemon balm self-reported an increased sense of calmness and reduced feelings of alertness [20].

It has also been shown to relieve indigestion [21] alongside:

-easing insomnia
-treat cold sores
-reduce nausea
-minimize menstrual cramps

Astragin is a plant derived compound extracted from Chinese ginseng and Astragalus membranaceus. It has a profound effect on your body’s ability to absorb beneficial amino acids, fatty acids, vitamins and phytonutrients, as well as repairing damaged intestinal walls, and helping to support a healthy microbiota population (gut bacteria).

Studies into AstraGin and its absorption rates have shown it to substantially increase absorption levels in a number of beneficial nutrients and superfoods. These include the branched-chain amino acid (BCAA) leucine, one of the most important nutrients in muscle protein synthesis (muscle building), the disease-fighting flaxseed and trytophan, an amino-acid which acts as a precursor to 5-HTP which goes on to create the neurotransmitter serotonin, which can also be converted into a hormone that plays an important role in regulating sleep: melatonin [22].

That restorative sleep and increased protein synthesis is hugely beneficial for us bodybuilders who are looking to build muscle as optimally as we can, and improved sleep will help us do that.

In summary, stress is a normal physiological response from the body to danger. Although it is crucial for our survival, when stress stays elevated for a long time it can have a host of negative consequences on the body. Supplement companies such as Complete Strength have come up with anti-stress products (Calm) to combat some of this side effects. Each ingredient has a host of benefits and have been chosen specifically to help alleviate stress, reduce inflammation, improve cognitive function, reduce depression and a whole other host of outcomes. If you are looking for a supplement to help you cope with stress then I would recommend Calm.

Vaughan Wilson Bsc Hons