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SUPPLEMENTS I TAKE AND WHY

  • Creatine Monohydrate
    • Take more during a loading phase and then 3-5g/day for increased work capacity and anaerobic power
    • Works especially well for explosive movements 10-15 seconds in duration, although every athlete benefits from this, even long distance runners looking to sprint the last leg of the race, bodybuilders, Olympic lifters, Gymnasts, CrossFitters, etc etc.
    •  Optimum Nutrition Creatine 
      (I’m not sponsored by ON, it just so happens the first 3 products I list are by them because they’re a trusted brand)
  • Caffeine
    • I seldom use creatine, and when I do it’s an exact amount ingested via a pre-workout powder. 
    • NOTE: I only take caffeine if I’m already feeling tired or before a leg day (i.e. Deadlifts or Heavy Squats). Avoid drinking coffee or any caffeinated products out of habit or as part of a routine. Only take them when you’re tired or need a boost pre-workout so you don’t become desensitized to the amazing ergogenic effects of caffeine.
    • Optimum Nutrition Pre-Workout
      • This pre-workout contains creatine, caffeine, citrulline malate, beta alanine etc which makes it simple all in one solution.
  • Protein Powder (Whey, Casein, Pea, whatever floats your boat and tastes good)
  • Fish Oil
    • Omega 3 fatty acids in the form of EPA and DHA
    • Helps with excessive inflammation, joint health, cholesterol and CVD risk, etc
    • Sports Research Fish Oil Gel Capsules
      • Do not give you fish burps, totally tasteless, give you a big dose and is actually essential for people who don’t like the taste of fish, or if you’re worried about mercury poisoning from whole fish, etc.
  • Multivitamin
    • Your insurance policy to cover your bases. Not to be used in place of real food but rather to max out efficiency.
    • Vitamin Code Men and Vitamin Code Women
      •  Multivitamins generally do not give you too much of fat soluble vitamins (A,D,E,K) because if you get too much of them you can’t just pee them out, so below you’ll see a couple extra Vitamins you may want to boost in addition to what you get from your Multi
  • Vitamin D
  • Trace Minerals / Mineral Water 
    • You could also simply drink mineral water (minerals dissolved in water are called electrolytes)
    • Tropical Oasis Trace Minerals liquid solution
      • I usually take a swig of this (about a spoonful) once a day and then add a splash into my reverse osmosis filtered water since the reverse osmosis process strips the water of its mineral content
  •  Magnesium
    • Just like your muscles need Calcium to contract, you need Magnesium to relax muscles.
      This one tends to be overlooked because people get so focused on Calcium and D3 that they become deficient. Foods are often not fortified with Magnesium like other minerals are as well.
    • Magnesium is especially important for older adults who have stiff muscles, experience cramps, and and it helps aid in recovery when your muscle are sore and cramping.
    • It’s also dirt cheap which is nice:
      NatureMade Magnesium is like 5 bucks
  • Turmeric (Curcumin)
Also…
Here are some other ones I don’t take but the research shows they work well (and my friend Willie the trainer has tried with good results):
  • Cirtulline Malate
    • L-Cirtulline helps you make more bioavailable arginine than an actual arginine supplements do, funny enough!
    • Decreases fatigue during later sets in a workout, increases total work capacity and therefore increases total workout volume
    • May help with muscles soreness (so far only demonstrated effectively by one study)
    • PrimaForce Citrulline Malate (it’s also found in the ON pre-workout powder above)
  • Beet Root Powder
  • HMB (Beta Hydroxy Beta Methylbutrate)
    • Jury is still out on the use of this for muscle building. Research is a bit mixed for muscle building properties.
    • However it has been shown to prevent muscle breakdown and prevent muscle wasting, so even though it won’t help you make MORE gains (won’t help anabolism), it may help you RETAIN gains (preventing catabolism).
    • May be useful for athletes recovering from injuries, those in bed rest, during planned deloading phases etc 
    • Optimum Nutrition HMB Capsules
  • Ashwaganda
    • May be useful for recovery and decrease stress and anxiety. Depends on the person and their personality whether they feel they need this one. Probably a better way to handle stress than drinking alcohol, IMO.
    • Jarrow Formula Ashwaganda Capsules (rec. by Willie Yaldo)
    • Follow Willie on Instagram @WiamYaldo if you have questions for him on Ashwaganda/Beet Root/Citrulline etc!
  • Nootropics
    • This is actually a whole category of substances that improve cognitive performance, such as caffeine, alpha-GPC, Lions Mane etc.
      • Because working out is mostly a mental struggle for most people, taking drugs or supplements that make you feel more alert, focused, fatigue resistance and clear-minded will indirectly help your training.
    • I’ll cover Nootropics more thoroughly in a future supplement podcast so stay tuned! (I will update this section after it is released)

 

"BAD" SUPPLEMENTS

Technically there aren’t any supplements I’m including here that are actively harmful (like steroids, EPO, ephedrine etc etc) but they will actively harm your wallet. And that’s money you could be spending on home gym equipment, healthy food, a personal trainer etc.

  • BCAAs
    • These are already found in protein podwer and all meats. No need to add them in unless your struggling to get enough protein already or you’re on a specialized diet
  • Fat burners
    • Yeahhh…none of these work. I mean think about it… If they actually worked, personal trainers would be out of a a job, period!
  • Glutamine
    • Used to be a big deal 10 years ago, has not lived up to the hype. It’s not harmful per se, just not worth spending the extra $$ on it.
    • Although glutamine doesn’t help build extra muscle in normal population, those with Chrohn’s Disease or GI diseases that have leaky gut issues may have symptoms improve and tolerate exercise better with glutamine.
    • Evidence on this is still weak but effects small effects have been observed in some studies
  • Anything saying it boosts testosterone (if it actually does boost testosterone, it’s probably a trojan horse form of steroids)
  • There are a million other examples, so I’ll keep this list short for now. If you have a question about a supplement check it out on Examine.com or ask me a question below in the comments or on my Facebook Page or Instagram!

"Population Specific" Supplements

Technically there aren’t any supplements I’m including here that are actively harmful (like steroids, EPO, ephedrine etc etc) but they will actively harm your wallet. And that’s money you could be spending on home gym equipment, healthy food, a personal trainer etc.

  • Sodium Bicarbonate (Baking Soda) – Endurance Athletes
    • Seems to work best for endurance runners, particularly medium distance events (10K), buffers against pH changes
    • You can get this from your local grocery store but be aware if you take too much (>5 g) it can give you an upset stomach
  • Glucosamine – Athletes
    • For better joint health it may help to take a stack of Omega 3 fatty acids (i.e. Fish oil) with glucosamines that help keep your joints filled with synovial fluid and glycosaminoglycans. chondroitin for cartilaginous benefits, etc
    • Athletes joints take a beating and young athletes often take these supplements when it is “too late” and the damage has been done. Take this early in your career to make sure you retire at an older age and also for joint health later in life. 
  • Iron – Vegans, Female Athletes especially
    • A majority of people in the US are iron deficient, and women need even more iron than men for their menstrual cycles. If you have low energy during workouts this could be a cause
    • If you are Vegan and not getting much Heme (meat-based) iron, make sure you also get plenty of Vitamin C which also helps with iron absorption
  • B12 – Vegans
    • This one is almost non negotiable for most Vegans. Vegans may be able to navigate around common deficits in their diet such as iron, vitamin D, vitamin K2, etc but quality B12 is hard to come by. If you feel like you have lowe energy make sure you get on a B12 supplement for optimal exercise performance
  • Extra Protein – Older Adults (50+)
    • As we age our bodies get worse at absorbing protein in the gut, and each year our bodies shed muscle mass as part of the natural aging process, so each year you should up your protein intake by a few grams to compensate.
    • Older adults need to consume protein levels similar to that of an elite athlete due to how much protein they excrete
    • Asking a 90 year old to eat match 1g of protein per pound of body weight is a staggering amount of meat. Just chewing this much meat alone can be a daunting task. This is where protein powders and pre-made shakes come in. Drinking the protein is way easier on the gut too.
  • Hospitalized, injured, or rehabbing patients – HMB and Glutamine
    • Although Glutamine and HMB have been busted for their anabolic effects in healthy population, those who have muscle wasting diseases (AIDs) hor direct wounds to the muscle (i.e. a stab wound or torn muscle) have benefited from supplementation with Glutamine
    • If you are trying to prevent muscle from breaking down during a period where you can’t work out (i.e. you’re in a cast) HMB can help prevent catabolism (muscle breakdown)
  • Capsaicin – Professional Bodybuilders (cutting for a show)
    • Capsaicin is the hot / spicy part of a chili pepper
    • One of the only things that does alter metabolism to burn a small amount of calories
    • However, it only burns 50 – 70 kcal and that’s it.
    • The only people who would ever benefit from this are pro bodybuilders whose bodies have hit a wall and refuse to lose fat (say they are trying to go from 6% to 5% fat on a very low calorie diet). Those small, almost insignificant amount of calories may be enough to give them an edge.

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