D-aspartic acid can also help to reduce cortisol levels. Cortisol is known as the “stress” hormone because its production increases during stressful situations. High cortisol levels can have many negative side effects, such as weight gain, muscle tissue breakdown, or increased blood sugar. Taking a supplement that includes cortisol can reduce stress and prevent excess fat storage or muscle loss.

Most experts recommend starting with your larger muscle groups and then proceeding to the smaller ones. The most demanding exercises are those performed by your large muscle groups, and you will need your smaller muscles to get the most out of these exercises. But don't feel limited by that. You can do your exercises in any order you like, and changing the order is a great way to challenge yourself in different ways.
Creatine supplementation appears to attenuate decreases in GLUT4 expression seen with immobility and may increase GLUT4 expression during exercise. While it seems capable of increasing GLUT4 during resting conditions, it has failed to reach significance, suggesting that creatine supplementation works best with some stimuli associated with exercise.
JAK2 (Janus-Activating Kinase 2) is a novel protein that has been shown to suppress the activity of the creatine transporter CrT in vitro. The effects of JAK2 on CrT are not well-understood in vivo, however. Given that growth hormone activates both c-src (increases CrT activity) and JAK2- which has been found to decrease CrT activity, it is plausible that JAK2 may function as a negative-feedback regulator of creatine uptake. Future research is needed to better understand the role of JAK2 on CrT activity in vivo.
Creatine ingested through supplementation is transported into the cells exclusively by CreaT1. However, there is another creatine transporter Crea T2, which is primarily active and present in the testes [12]. Creatine uptake is regulated by various mechanisms, namely phosphorylation and glycosylation as well as extracellular and intracellular levels of creatine. Crea T1 has shown to be highly sensitive to the extracellular and intracellular levels being specifically activated when total creatine content inside the cell decreases [12]. It has also been observed that in addition to cytosolic creatine, the existence of a mitochondrial isoform of Crea T1 allows creatine to be transported into the mitochondria. Indicating another intra-mitochondrial pool of creatine, which seems to play an essential role in the phosphate-transport system from the mitochondria to the cytosol [13]. Myopathy patients have demonstrated reduced levels of total creatine and phosphocreatine as well as lower levels of CreaT1 protein, which is thought to be a major contributor to these decreased levels [14].
A: Depending upon your experience level, preference, recovery capacity, and time available, you’ll likely find that 3-5 strength training sessions per week is the sweet spot. If you’re just getting started with weight training, then you should stick with 3 days per week and work your way up. Novices and early intermediates can handle 4 days per week with a split such as an upper lower and seasoned intermediate lifters may be able to handle 5 sessions per week depending upon the programming, recovery, and nutrition strategies that are in place.
This is how the NPC differs from the NANBF. The NANBF takes a more direct approach by taking urine samples from all competitors that are tested for steroids and any other substances on the banned list. The NANBF also differs from the NPC when it comes to judging. The criteria for certain poses differs from organization to organization. The NANBF even has an elevated calf pose which is unique for their competitions.[citation needed]
In natural contests, the testing protocol ranges among organizations from lie detectors to urinalysis. Penalties also range from organization to organization from suspensions to strict bans from competition. It is also important to note that natural organizations also have their own list of banned substances and it is important to refer to each organization's website for more information about which substances are banned from competition. There are many natural bodybuilding organizations; some of the larger ones include: MuscleMania, Ultimate Fitness Events (UFE), INBF/WNBF, and INBA/PNBA. These organizations either have an American or worldwide presence and are not limited to the country in which they are headquartered.
Lie on your back on the floor and bend one knee so that your foot is flat on the floor. Keeping your opposite leg straight, push your foot into the floor, raising your hips until both thighs are in line with each other. Reverse the motion to return to the starting position. That’s one rep. Complete all your reps on one leg, and then switch legs and repeat.
Carducci, C., Birarelli, M., Leuzzi, V., Carducci, C., Battini, R., Cioni, G., and Antonozzi, I. Guanidinoacetate and creatine plus creatinine assessment in physiologic fluids: an effective diagnostic tool for the biochemical diagnosis of arginine:glycine amidinotransferase and guanidinoacetate methyltransferase deficiencies. Clin Chem 2002;48(10):1772-1778. View abstract.
After supplementation of creatine monohydrate (loading phase, followed by 19 weeks maintenance), creatine precursors are decreased by up to 50% (loading) or 30% (maintenance), which suggests a decrease in endogenous creatine synthesis during supplementation.[38] This appears to occur through creatine’s own positive feedback and suppression of the l-arginine:glycine amidinotransferase enzyme, the rate-limiting step in creatine synthesis, as levels of intermediates before this stage are typically elevated by up to 75%.[38]
Without supplementation, approximately 14.6mmol (2g) of creatinine, creatine’s urinary metabolite, is lost on a daily basis in a standard 70kg male ages 20-39. The value is slightly lower in females and the elderly due to a presence of less muscle mass.[35] This amount is considered necessary to obtain in either food or supplemental form to avoid creatine deficiency. Requirements may be increased in people with higher than normal lean mass.[35][198] Creatine excretion rates on a daily basis are correlated with muscle mass, and the value of 2g a day is derived from the aforementioned male population with about 120g creatine storage capacity.[35] Specifically, the rate of daily creatine losses is about 1.6%[199]-1.7%,[25] and mean losses for women are approximately 80% that of men due to less average lean mass.[35] For weight-matched elderly men (70kg, 70-79 years of age) the rate of loss of 7.8mmol/day,[49] or about half (53%) that of younger men.
These effects are secondary to creatine being a source of phosphate groups and acting as an energy reserve. The longer a cell has energy, the longer it can preserve the integrity of the cell membrane by preserving integrity of the Na+/K+-ATPase and Ca2+-ATPase enzymes.[241][235][236] Preserving ATP allows creatine to act via a nongenomic response (not requiring the nuclear DNA to transcribe anything), and appears to work secondary to MAPK and PI3K pathways.[226]
"It'’s especially important to eat a carb- and protein-rich meal immediately after a workout," Aceto says. "Right after training, it turns out that your body is really lousy at taking carbohydrates and sending them down fat-storing pathways,"” he says. "So post-training, carbs will be sent down growth-promoting pathways instead."” And when these carbs are combined with a protein source, you'’ve got a strong muscle-feeding combination because carbohydrates help deliver the amino acids into muscles by boosting insulin levels. This anabolic hormone drives nutrients into the muscle cells and kick-starts the muscle-growth process.

One study on 27 otherwise healthy men supplementing creatine (0.3g/kg loading for a week, 0.05g/kg thereafter for 8 weeks) with a thrice weekly exercise regiment noted that alongside greater increase in lean mass and power relative to placebo at 4 and 8 weeks, myostatin in serum decreased to a greater extent with creatine (around 17% at 8 weeks, derived from graph) than it did with placebo (approximately 7%).[356] Increases in GASP-1, a serum protein that inhibits the actions of myostatin by directly binding to it,[357] were not different between groups.[356]
I get lost every time I walk into my neighborhood GNC… the people who work there know their stuff, but nobody knows my body better than me and that’s where it all falls apart, but I’m working on that. I agree, I rather have grass-fed and more natural options as opposed to anything containing GMO in the products… The point is to become healthier, not go the other way…. But I also don’t want to get too much soy in my diet either… My wife is doesn’t want it for me and it’s given me headaches too, so I’m not really one for those. I guess small amounts of soy should be okay, right? Could someone be allergic to soy? There’s tons of other options though and I’m going to have to really look more into these here coz it has everything I’ve been looking for! Thanks for putting this together!
One rat study that compared male and female rats and used a forced swim test (as a measure of serotonergic activity of anti-depressants[227]) found that a sexual dimorphism existed, and females exerted a serotonin-mediated anti-depressant response while male rats did not.[228] It appears that these anti-depressive effects are mediated via the 5-HT1A subset of serotonin receptors, as the antidepressant effects can be abolished by 5-HT1A inhibitors.[229]
The process of phagocytosis (a macrophage consuming a pathogen) in macrophages appears to be associated with an acute reduction in creatine phosphate stores (45%)[436] and an increase in creatine kinase activity,[290] although prolonged stimulation is met with an increase in creatine phosphate (20%).[290] The creatine kinase activity does not appear to be altered based on creatine availability,[290] but since ATP seems to be preserved in these instances,[436][290] the increase in phosphocreatine may be explained by an overall creatine pool paralleling that found in medium.[290]
A study using creatine at 0.02% of a face cream (confounded with 8% glycerol and 0.4% Guarana) was able to exert a skin-tightening effect over 6 weeks, reducing wrinkles and jowl volume.[541] Combination therapy has also been used with creatine and folic acid (both in vitro[543] and in vivo), resulting in increased skin firmness and reduced coarse and fine wrinkles.[544]
Heart Failure is one of the single most common complications that face many people today. When a heart ages, the cells collect a yellow-brown layer which is waste and can lead to heart complications. This process is known as lipofuscin, or “aging pigment” which leads to death opposed to someone who can delay that as far as possible. [3] In mice, a study was performed where two groups of mice who had lipofuscin underwent different experiments, one group received creatine supplementation, and one group did not receive supplementation. What they found was that the mice who supplemented creatine lived 9% longer than the ones who did not receive creatine. 9% translated into human years results in almost 7 years, which could suggest that if you suffer from this deterioration, creatine supplementation could potentially increase your longevity by 7 years. [3]
Plyometrics exploit the stretch-shortening cycle of muscles to enhance the myotatic (stretch) reflex. This involves rapid alternation of lengthening and shortening of muscle fibers against resistance. The resistance involved is often a weighted object such as a medicine ball or sandbag, but can also be the body itself as in jumping exercises or the body with a weight vest that allows movement with resistance. Plyometrics is used to develop explosive speed, and focuses on maximal power instead of maximal strength by compressing the force of muscular contraction into as short a period as possible, and may be used to improve the effectiveness of a boxer's punch, or to increase the vertical jumping ability of a basketball player. Care must be taken when performing plyometric exercises because they inflict greater stress upon the involved joints and tendons than other forms of exercise.

Brain injury. Early research shows that taking creatine by mouth daily for 7 days increases the ability to exercise by increasing lung function in people with a spinal cord injury. However, other research shows that creatine does not improve wrist muscle or hand function. Early research also shows that taking creatine by mouth daily for 6 months reduces amnesia following a traumatic brain injury in children.
One pilot study using 150mg/kg creatine monohydrate for a five day loading phase followed by maintenance (60mg/kg) for the remainder of the five weeks noted that supplementation was associated with fewer muscle symptoms and complaints alongside improved muscular function,[572] yet a later trial trying to replicate the obsevations using 150mg/kg daily for five weeks noted the opposite, that creatine supplementation exacerbated symptoms.[573] 
“I would really focus on learning how macros work, how your body works and how it reacts to certain foods, and what your body requires each day to maintain your weight,” he advises. “Then you can start playing around with increasing calories [to bulk up], and decreasing calories when you're dieting.” Our beginner's guide to macros will definitely help.
Cooke et al [41] observed positive effects of a prior (0.3 g/d kg BW) loading and a post maintenance protocol (0.1 g/d kg BW) to attenuate the loss of strength and muscle damage after an acute supramaximal (3 set x 10 rep with 120% 1RM) eccentric resistance training session in young males. The authors speculate that creatine ingestion prior to exercise may enhance calcium buffering capacity of the muscle and reduce calcium-activated proteases which in turn minimize sarcolemma and further influxes of calcium into the muscle. In addition creatine ingestion post exercise would enhance regenerative responses, favoring a more anabolic environment to avoid severe muscle damage and improve the recovery process. In addition, in vitro studies have demonstrated the antioxidant effects of creatine to remove superoxide anion radicals and peroxinitrite radicals [42]. This antioxidant effect of creatine has been associated with the presence of Arginine in its molecule. Arginine is also a substrate for nitric oxide synthesis and can increase the production of nitric oxide which has higher vasodilatation properties, and acts as a free radical that modulates metabolism, contractibility and glucose uptake in skeletal muscle. Other amino acids contained in the creatine molecule such as glycine and methinine may be especially susceptible to free radical oxidation because of sulfhydryl groups [42]. A more recent in vitro study showed that creatine exerts direct antioxidant activity via a scavenging mechanism in oxidatively injured cultured mammalian cells [43]. In a recent in vivo study Rhaini et al [44] showed a positive effect of 7 days of creatine supplementation (4 x 5 g CM 20 g total) on 27 recreational resistance trained males to attenuate the oxidation of DNA and lipid peroxidation after a strenuous resistance training protocol.
“Imagine you've fasted for over eight hours,” he says. “At breakfast, you're firing your metabolism off really high. If you don't eat for another five hours, your metabolism starts to slow right down and you have to try and kickstart it again with your next meal. If you eat every two and a half to three hours, it's like chucking a log on a burning fire.”
Co-ingesting creatine with caffeine partially negated the benefits of creatine supplementation (at 5mg/kg bodyweight) during the loading phase in one study.[590] The exact mechanism responsible for this effect is not known, but might be related to opposing actions on muscle contraction time.[591] However, another study in trained men found that co-ingestion of 300mg caffeine per day during creatine loading at 20g per day (split into 4 doses) had no effect on bench press 1RM, time to fatigue, or sprinting ability.[592] However, this study also found that creatine alone or when combined with caffeine had no effect on any of these parameters over placebo, either. Thus, the study may have been underpowered or done in too short a time frame (the test was done after only 5 days of loading) to observe any possible effects.[592]
However, caffeine does not negate the benefits of creatine loading when not coingested, but just taken before exercise in the same dosage.[593] This result indicates that loading creatine without caffeine on a daily basis, but saving caffeine for select workouts, may be an effective strategy, as creatine does not adversely affect caffeine’s ergogenic effects[593][594] and may enhance creatine’s effectiveness in anaerobic exertion if the two compounds are alternated.[595]

Listen, I know in the beginning of this post I was sympathetic to your problem, but I am also here to say, Suck It Up. I can tell you that to gain weight, you need to focus on making your meals a habit rather than an afterthought. Your body is pre-programmed with your genetic disposition. And in your case, you have a very fast metabolism that digests and burns calories quickly. Focus on having 5-6 calorie-dense meals a day spaced 2-3 hours apart so that your body is constantly being provided with something to metabolize and build muscle.
^ Jump up to: a b c d e Cooper R, Naclerio F, Allgrove J, Jimenez A (July 2012). "Creatine supplementation with specific view to exercise/sports performance: an update". Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 9 (1): 33. doi:10.1186/1550-2783-9-33. PMC 3407788. PMID 22817979. Creatine is produced endogenously at an amount of about 1 g/d. Synthesis predominately occurs in the liver, kidneys, and to a lesser extent in the pancreas. The remainder of the creatine available to the body is obtained through the diet at about 1 g/d for an omnivorous diet. 95% of the bodies creatine stores are found in the skeletal muscle and the remaining 5% is distributed in the brain, liver, kidney, and testes [1].

Beach muscles and Olympic lifts draw more attention. But the many little stabilizer muscles around your shoulders, hips, and midsection — collectively the core — provide a strong foundation. Challenging the stability and mobility of these key muscles with medicine balls, physioballs, mini-bands, and rotational movements (lifting, chopping) pays huge dividends.
While they don’t play a big role, your body’s lean body mass and muscle strength is somewhat influenced by genetics. Actually, it’s good that they don’t have too much of an influence. Why? Because that means you have more of an influence on your muscle mass through your lifestyle. You can control it! If genetics were a determining factor, there wouldn’t be much you could do to change your situation.
Some ingredients found in dietary supplements marketed for bodybuilding or performance enhancement—such as whey protein, creatine, and caffeine—generally aren’t associated with any serious safety concerns (when used appropriately). However, they still have the potential for side effects. Before you take any dietary supplement, talk to your healthcare provider. You also can read the articles below about some of these ingredients:
Creatine is only taken up by its transporter, and changes in the activity level of this transporter are wholly causative of changes in creatine uptake. The transporter is regulated by mostly cytosolic factors as well as some external factors that affect creatine transport activity, [143] including extracellular creatine.[140] Agents affecting creatine transport are further divided into positive regulators (those that increase activity of the transporter) and negative regulators (those that suppress activity).
In standard dosages (5-10g creatine monohydrate) the bioavailability of creatine in humans is approximately 99%,[68][83] although this value is subject to change with different conjugates (forms) of creatine and dosages.[83] Coingestion of cyclocreatine (an analogue) can reduce uptake by about half[131] and coincubation of taurine, choline, glycine, or beta-alanine had minimal attenuation of absorption, which is likely not practically relevant.[131] The inhibition noted with cyclocreatine may be due to receptor saturation.
Chwalbinska-Monteta [34] observed a significant decrease in blood lactate accumulation when exercising at lower intensities as well as an increase in lactate threshold in elite male endurance rowers after consuming a short loading (5 days 20 g/d) CM protocol. However, the effects of creatine supplementation on endurance performance have been questioned by some studies. Graef et al [35] examined the effects of four weeks of creatine citrate supplementation and high-intensity interval training on cardio respiratory fitness. A greater increase of the ventilatory threshold was observed in the creatine group respect to placebo; however, oxygen consumption showed no significant differences between the groups. The total work presented no interaction and no main effect for time for any of the groups. Thompson et al [36] reported no effects of a 6 week 2 g CM/d in aerobic and anaerobic endurance performance in female swimmers. In addition, of the concern related to the dosage used in these studies, it could be possible that the potential benefits of creatine supplementation on endurance performance were more related to effects of anaerobic threshold localization.
Second, strength training has a much greater level of excess post-exercise oxygen consumption than aerobic exercise.  What does this mean?  When you finish a workout, your body needs to do a lot of work to replenish itself in order to bring itself back to a normal state (the way it was before you worked out).  This takes a lot of energy, and some studies have shown that it can boost your metabolism for up to 38 hours after you finish your workout.
Some people do have allergies to soy, or they have an intolerance to soy. If you notice certain symptoms (like a headache) after soy consumption, you may have an intolerance. Discovering your food intolerances/allergies would also be handled by a Dietitian. For the general population who are not allergic/intolerant to soy, however, soy-based products can be a part of a healthy diet. New research has shown that soy is not harmful as people fear. If soy gives you issues, you could always opt for whey protein, pea protein or other forms of vegetable protein. Have you seen our article on protein powders? Click here.
A commercially available pre-workout formula comprised of 2.05 g of caffeine, taurine and glucuronolactone, 7.9 g of L-leucine, L-valine, L-arginine and L-glutamine, 5 g of di-creatine citrate and 2.5 g of β-alanine mixed with 500 ml of water taken 10 minutes prior to exercise has been shown to enhance time to exhaustion during moderate intensity endurance exercise and to increase feelings of focus, energy and reduce subjective feelings of fatigue before and during endurance exercise due to a synergistic effect of the before mentioned ingredients [72]. The role of creatine in this formulation is to provide a neuroprotective function by enhancing the energy metabolism in the brain tissue, promoting antioxidant activities, improving cerebral vasculation and protecting the brain from hyperosmotic shock by acting as a brain cell osmolyte. Creatine can provide other neuroprotective benefits through stabilisation of mitochondrial membranes, stimulation of glutamate uptake into synaptic vesicles and balance of intracellular calcium homeostasis [72].
Kerksick, C. M., Wilborn, C. D., Campbell, W. I., Harvey, T. M., Marcello, B. M., Roberts, M. D., Parker, A. G., Byars, A. G., Greenwood, L. D., Almada, A. L., Kreider, R. B., and Greenwood, M. The effects of creatine monohydrate supplementation with and without D-pinitol on resistance training adaptations. J.Strength.Cond.Res. 2009;23:2673-2682. View abstract.
You're aiming to kick start muscle hypertrophy, the cellular process that spurs growth. Researchers have found that the best way to initiate that process is by performing two or three sets of an exercise for six to 12 repetitions, with about 30 to 60 seconds' rest between sets. You're damaging the muscles with the work — then the protein you've been consuming will help build them back up even bigger.
If you stop getting the results you want after several weeks of working out, it's time to mix things up. You need to challenge or "confuse" your muscles often to keep them growing. You can do this by putting a twist on your basic moves. Do a biceps curl with a reverse grip, for example. Or find a bench for the step-up move shown here. Change up your workout at least every 4 to 6 weeks for the best results.

Amanda is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist in Chicago who graduated with a bachelor's in Nutrition from Northern Illinois University. She completed her dietetic internship at Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital in Hines, IL. Amanda has a strong background in clinical nutrition, nutrition education, and experience working with specialized populations like children, acute care, intensive care, outpatients, and eating disorders. Amanda works with athletes and weight loss clients in the Los Angeles and southwestern Arizona area as a virtual Dietitian. Amanda prides herself in connecting with her audience while providing evidenced-based information and practical nutrition therapy for a complex population.


Kerksick, C. M., Wilborn, C. D., Campbell, W. I., Harvey, T. M., Marcello, B. M., Roberts, M. D., Parker, A. G., Byars, A. G., Greenwood, L. D., Almada, A. L., Kreider, R. B., and Greenwood, M. The effects of creatine monohydrate supplementation with and without D-pinitol on resistance training adaptations. J.Strength.Cond.Res. 2009;23:2673-2682. View abstract.
As mentioned, protein is essential for building muscle. If you are unable to consume the recommended amount of protein through diet alone, add protein powder for building muscle as a supplement. This applies to nearly anyone hoping to gain muscle mass since it’s not easy to pack in nearly 100 grams of protein a day through chicken, eggs and legumes alone.
Progression – Throughout the course of your lifting career you should consistently strive for progress both mentally and physically. Initially, you may find that you’re incessantly focused on nutrition and training but as you progress in both maturity and muscular development, you should be focused on improving the balance between lifting and your life. It’s never about having an all or nothing mindset, balance must be incorporated in all aspects but this takes times to develop and occurs with progression over time.
The general strategy adopted by most present-day competitive bodybuilders is to make muscle gains for most of the year (known as the "off-season") and, approximately 12–14 weeks from competition, lose a maximum of body fat (referred to as "cutting") while preserving as much muscular mass as possible. The bulking phase entails remaining in a net positive energy balance (calorie surplus). The amount of a surplus in which a person remains is based on the person's goals, as a bigger surplus and longer bulking phase will create more fat tissue. The surplus of calories relative to one's energy balance will ensure that muscles remain in a state of anabolism.

It's woooooorkkkkkiiiinnnngggg!!! I've been working out without creatine for over a year and a half now and have been missing that extra boost at the end of a set of reps. Not anymore! Started to feel the creatine help out in my 4th workout since using this stuff. It's good, real good. Creatine is one of those only supplements that have actually been proven to increase strength and bursts of endurance at the end of a set, and it's that one thing that can turn a regular workout into something that you're proud of. Just buy it, it works, you won't be disappointed. Use 2 of their servings sizes though, you need 5mg not 2.5. No spoon in bag, you'll need a measuring cup. Mixes effortlessly in juice.

Genetic deficiencies in the creatine biosynthetic pathway lead to various severe neurological defects.[26] Clinically, there are three distinct disorders of creatine metabolism. Deficiencies in the two synthesis enzymes can cause L-arginine:glycine amidinotransferase deficiency caused by variants in GATM and guanidinoacetate methyltransferase deficiency, caused by variants in GAMT. Both biosynthetic defects are inherited in an autosomal recessive manner. A third defect, creatine transporter defect, is caused by mutations in SLC6A8 and inherited in a X-linked manner. This condition is related to the transport of creatine into the brain.[27]


The majority of studies focusing on creatine supplementation report an increase in the body’s’ creatine pool [15-17]. There is a positive relationship between muscle creatine uptake and exercise performance [17]. Volek et al [18] observed a significant increase in strength performance after 12 weeks creatine supplementation with a concurrent periodized heavy resistance training protocol. The creatine supplementation protocol consisted of a weeklong loading period of 25 g/d followed by a 5 g maintenance dose for the remainder of the training. These positive effects were attributed to an increased total creatine pool resulting in more rapid adenosine triphosphate (ATP) regeneration between resistance training sets allowing athletes to maintain a higher training intensity and improve the quality of the workouts along the entire training period.
Creatine (/ˈkriːətiːn/ or /ˈkriːətɪn/[1] is an organic compound with the nominal formula (H2N)(HN)CN(CH3)CH2CO2H. This species exists in various modifications (tautomers) in solution. Creatine is found in vertebrates where it facilitates recycling of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the energy currency of the cell, primarily in muscle and brain tissue. Recycling is achieved by converting adenosine diphosphate (ADP) back to ATP via donation of phosphate groups. Creatine also acts as a buffer.[2]
Men appear to have higher active creatine-kinase systems, and racial differences favor black people over hispanic people over white people in terms of the activity of the creatine-kinase system. This system is more variable in men, independent of supplementation. Exercise may increase the activity of the creatine-kinase system independent of supplementation.
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