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TL;DR: Of all the PAGG components, I highly recommend and still take Alpha-lipoic acid every day.
Back in December I tore thru The Four-Hour Body while on vacation visiting my family. There were a few big takeaways for me, but the one that I was most excited about was the PAGG stack. As I wrote in my original review, the components of the PAGG stack, which you can all of at whole foods, gnc, etc, are Policosanol, Alpha-lipoic acid, Green tea extract, Garlic extract. Tim calls these supplements the “four horseman of fat burning,” so I set out to try them and see whether or not they were worth the time and money.
Policosanol, which I continually mispronounce, is derived from sugar cane. The main benefits of Policosanol are “cardiovascular health” if you are to believe the label. But Tim thinks it’s worth including in the stack because of an unintended benefit he discovered while taking it to improve his cholesterol. He found that taking it before bed, increased his fat loss.
Alpha-lipoic acid is an antioxidant that makes your pee smell like you ate asparagus. I’m not kidding, one of the first things I noticed when I started taking the PAGG stack was that my pee smelled. Over time I narrowed it down to the ALA. Tim’s reasoning for inclusion in the stack can be summed up in one sentence: “ALA helps you store the carbohydrates you eat in muscle or in your liver as opposed to in fat.”
Green tea extract, or EGCG, is yet another antioxidant. People have been trying to market the crap out of green tea this past decade and its ability to increase metabolism. There have even been some “negative calorie” drinks to hit the market that claimed that since there zero calories in the drinks, and they increased metabolism, the net effect is negative calories. None of these drinks were major successes. Tim is a believer in EGCG because, similarly to ALA, it increases GLUT-4 recruitment to your muscles.
The last ingredient in the stack is garlic extract. The book includes an interesting story of how Tim came to investigate the benefits of garlic involving a homeless man. Garlic extract also benefits the heart according to their labels. Tim says he’s achieved the highest fat-loss when taking high doses of allicin, a component of garlic.
Ok, so now that you know all about it, how do you take it? Simple, basically you take everything four times a day, with a little bit of a twist. You only take P(olicosanol) before bed, and when you take it, you don’t take the G(reen tea extract). So it looks something like:
Before breakfast: AGG (No P)
Before lunch: AGG (Still no P)
Before dinner: AGG (Same as previous two times)
Before bed: PAG (This time we take P, and remove Green Tea)
RESULTS: So how did it work? At first I thought it was working pretty well, but over time I have grown increasingly skeptical of it’s benefits. Let me explain my reasoning. When I began taking the stack in early January, I was also on a new diet of strict paleo. Over the 45 days of paleo, I lost weight and bodyfat and consistently took PAGG almost every day as instructed. Which is to say 6 days per week, and 1 week off every 2 months. Over the last 45 days, I have continued to take PAGG, but have relaxed my paleo ways.*** I have continued to exercise at the same level during this entire period of time, 5-6 days per week of Crossfit Football strength programming, and the WOD from Crossfit Santa Clara. I haven’t been back to Fitness Wave for a follow up body fat measurement, but I can tell by the mirror that I have not continued to reduce body fat.
SIDE EFFECTS: Basically none. Like I said before, it did make my pee smell like I had just eaten a ton of asparagus. If you don’t know what that smells like, well eat some asparagus! There is a warning section in the book which says not to take it if pregnant or breastfeeding, and a few other things, so like anything, consult your doctor before taking a bunch of pills multiple times a day.
RECOMMENDATION: If I had jumped right in and wrote this review in February, I probably would have really encouraged people to try this. Now I’m not so sure. So here is the deal. Given that there are basically no side effects, if you want to try something new for supplements, the only thing you have to risk is the money. All of the components, Policosanol, Alpha-lipoic acid, Green tea extract, Garlic extract are available online, as well as local stores like Whole Foods, GNC, Vitamin Shoppe, etc etc. Compared to other supplements on the market, the PAGG stack isn’t that expensive. I will warn you that since December and the release of The Four-Hour Body, PAGG companies have been popping up left and right selling high priced pre-bundled PAGG stacks. You don’t need to spend top dollar on these 4 supplements , they are all readily available and a few of them were likely on clearance shelves at drug stores until recently. All of that said, some expense is still more than no expense, so if money is tight, pay your bills before buying supplements.
*** I plan on starting strict paleo again on April 1.