Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Should I Take Nutritional Supplements?

A supplement is exactly what the name suggests. It is something to supplement your diet. They are by no means necessary but there are some basic ones I would recommend for anyone just for general health reasons. I'm going to break the supplements into three categories: essentials, helpful, and unnecessary.


These are supplements that I think everybody should take whether they are a bodybuilder or someone trying to be healthy. You can theoretically meet the requirements of these supplements through your diet but very few people do which is why I believe everyone should take these.

1) Fish Oil: Fish oil is the one nutrient that is almost impossible to get enough of through diet. Unless you are eating substantial amounts of fatty fish, chances are you aren't getting nearly enough essential fatty acids. Fish oil pretty much does everything. It impacts overall health as well as controls inflammation, promotes fat oxidation, inhibits fat storage and more. I recommend getting a combined 2.0 grams of combined EPA and DHA per day. A standard fish oil capsule contains 180 mg of DHA and 120 mg of EPA which means you would need to take 6-7 capsules per day. I like Controlled Labs Orange Oximega Fish Oilbecause each capsule is highly concentrated so you don't need to take as many. 2 capsules of these a day will suffice.

2) Multivitamin: It is very difficult to get all of your required nutrients through diet. It is even tougher for athletes because they need increased amounts of vitamins due to their frequent training. Even if you believe you are meeting your vitamin and mineral needs, a multivitamin can be had for a reasonable price and it's good insurance just in case you are falling short of certain nutrients. I personally use Controlled Labs Orange Triad
because of the digestive and joint support. However, if you just want a more basic multivitamin I like Sportpharma Multi V,Optimum Nutrition Opti-Menor Optimum Nutrition Opti-Women,and NOW Foods ADAM.

3) Vitamin D3: Vitamin D can be made by the body through exposure of the skin to sunlight but many people are deficient due to lack of sun exposure from constantly being indoors or living in a cold weather area where sun exposure is kept to a minimum. Being deficient in Vitamin D can impact your testosterone levels and immunity. Therefore, I recommend taking 2,000 to 4,000 IU of vitamin D3 per day. Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin so you can take too much of it. More is not better so stick to the range I recommended. I personally use NOW Foods Vitamin D-3.Take 1-2 of these a day and you're all set.

4) Vitamin C: No one likes to get sick and Vitamin C can prevent it from happening. When you are in the gym several times a week, you aren't exactly exposed to the most sanitary environment. Vitamin C gives your immune system an extra boost and I can honestly say I rarely have gotten sick since I started using it. I recommend between 1,000 to 3,000 mg a day. Unlike Vitamin D, this is a water soluble vitamin so if you take more than you need, you just pee it out. Take 1 to 3 of NOW Foods Vitamin Cper day and you should be covered.


These are supplements that are not necessary but I would still recommend to anyone trying to build muscle and lose fat.

1) Protein Power: Protein powders have been a staple of athletic nutrition for decades. However, it is important to realize that protein powders are not magic. Whether you get 25 grams of protein from chicken or a protein shake, there is no difference. I remember thinking that I was going to get huge over night just because I had a protein shake and that is just completely wrong yet there are people who think this way. Obtaining all of your protein needs can generally be done with nothing more than food but protein powders can provide convenience and flexibility for people having problems meeting their protein needs. They can come in handy when traveling and bringing food is a hassle. The only type you need to use is whey. You can use casein as well but it is generally not utilized as efficiently by the body and is more expensive. My personal favorite is Gaspari Myofusion.It is by far the best tasting protein I have ever had. If you mix it into your oatmeal, it is even more delicious. Some other ones I also like are Optimum Nutrition 100% Whey Gold Standardand Xtreme Formulations Ultra Peptide Whey.If you want to try casein protein, I'd go with Optimum Nutrition 100% Casein Protein.As for how much to take, just use enough to fill in the gaps of your diet.

2) Protein Bars:
Protein bars are essentially a protein powder in bar form. They can be used as a snack or as a meal replacement on the go when packing meals can be a hassle. However, the majority of the protein bars on the market have crappy ingredients. The only two that I would suggest are Quest Bars and VPX Zero Impact Bars.Quest bars are more of a snack meanwhile Zero Impact Bars are heavier and are a meal replacement.

3) Glucose Disposal Agent (GDA): This is one that a lot of people may have never heard of. I was a non believer until I tried one myself. GDA's enhance nutrient uptake into cells by increasing the efficiency of insulin. They help maintain a stable blood glucose level, resulting in more efficient use of body fat for fuel. They enable you to eat more carbohydrates without feeling bloated and they give you a sick pump in the gym. My personal favorite aspect is that they help you stay more pumped up and vascular throughout the day. I don't endorse many types of products but GDA's are one I seriously think everyone should try. The one I use as a staple in my supplement stash is Genomyx Slin-Sane. I have gotten a bunch of my friends to use it and they all love it as well. You can also try Anabolic Innovations Glycobol but I prefer Slin Sane.

4) Branch Chain Amino Acids(BCAAs): Many studies have found that BCAAs and specifically leucine is critical for stimulating skeletal muscle growth and protein synthesis. BCAAs also decrease fatigue during high-intensity exercise. They can also aid in the prevention of muscle loss during periods of of dieting. My recommendation is if you are in a calorie surplus, you can do without them since you are getting plenty through your diet. If you are trying to lose fat and are in a calorie deficit, I would use them in order to preserve muscle mass. Take 10 grams during your workouts and another 10 grams 10-15 minutes before you do cardio. You can't go wrong with either Scivation Xtendor AI Sports RecoverProas a slightly more affordable option.

5) Creatine: Creatine is one of the most proven and backed supplements on the market today. There have been countless studies proving both its safety and effectiveness. It is used to increase the amount of creatine phosphate you have in your muscle tissue. Creatine phosphate is than used to replenish ATP which acts as a quick energy source for activities that require quick bursts of energy such as strength training, weight lifting and sprinting.The more creatine phosphate you have on hand, the more ATP can be replenished during bursts of all out effort. What all that basically means is it allows you to push out a couple of extra reps. It also saturates your muscles with water which will make you look a little bit bigger and fuller. I recommend 3-5 grams of creatine monohydrate per day. Other forms of creatine exist but they are not nearly as proven as monohydrate. You can take it before or after your workout and with your first meal of the day on non training days. Something basic like Optimum Nutrition Creatineis perfect. If you want to spend a little more money for a more effective product, Gaspari Size On Max-Performance and Gaspari Size On Pre-contestget excellent reviews. Size On is a creatine product with some extra goodies added in as well. Use Max-Performance if you are bulking and Pre-Contest if you are dieting since it doesn't have carbohydrates. Unlike taking plain creatine monoydrate, if you choose to go with Size On, drink it during your workouts. It's not necessary to take it on off days.

6) Pre- Workouts: Pre-workout products are probably the most popular supplements among gym goers. Although they do not produce any direct results, they can aid you in getting the most out of your workouts by providing you with more energy. I don't use any myself because I have enough energy from my pre workout meal alone but for those who need an extra jolt of energy before they hit the gym, pre-workout supplements can be a big help. If you are new to pre-work out supplements and would like to try one, I would start off with Controlled Labs White Flood. If you want something a bit more intense, try Usp Labs Jacked, or BPI 1.M.R.Another one that has gotten popular is MusclePharm Assault. When taking these products, make sure you stick to the recommended dosage until you are sure you can handle a higher dose. It's good to cycle these off after every couple of months so your body doesn't get used to it.

7) Joint Support: When you are lifting heavy weights or doing any form of physical exercise, your joints are taking a pounding. You may not feel any joint pain at the moment but taking a joint supplement before pain sets in is a good way to preserve your joints long term. The joint supplements I recommend are chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine sulfate. They both provide the building blocks for connective tissues and have been shown to help heal certain types of joint injuries such as arthritis. MSM can also help. I recommend 1.5 grams per day of each glucosamine, chondroitin and MSM. Like I said earlier, I take Controlled Labs Orange Triad as my multi vitamin because it already has joint support in it. If you would like to take a joint supplement separately, then I would go with NOW Foods Glucosamine Chondroitin with MSM.

8) Beta-Alanine: Beta-alanine basically lets you train harder and longer. It can increase muscular strength and power output, increase muscle mass, increase anaerobic endurance, increase aerobic endurance, and delay muscle fatigue. I recommend taking 4 grams per day. You will most likely notice a tingling sensation when you take it. Don't be alarmed. This is normal and will subside in a few minutes. Something basic like NOW Foods Beta Alaninewill do.


Most supplements on the market fall into this category. I'm not going to list all of them because there are simply too many. Anything not listed above will most likely fall into this category. It includes stuff like fat burners, growth hormone boosters,and testosterone boosters. Just because I did not include a specific ingredient doesn't mean it doesn't work. I just prefer to stick to the basics and let my training and diet take care of the rest.


Eric Desjarlais said...

Actually a spelling correction.. I do believe it's called branch chain amino acids, not brand chain amino acids. But on the topic of BCAA's, you might want to include how amino acids are great for avoiding muscle loss over a period of fasting and/or low calorie dieting. Also many protein powders and some multivitamins such as Opti-Men do have a certain amount of BCAA's in them already.

OoFaP said...

Thanks for pointing out the typo. I corrected it. I touched upon BCAA's helping to prevent muscle loss but I'll make it a bit more clear. As for protein powders containing them, that's just a marketing gimmick. Protein is made up of amino acids. Every protein has a certain amount of branch chains in its amino acid profile already. Supplement companies act like they are adding BCAA's to their protein powder but all they are doing is pointing out the fact that protein has some BCAA's in it.

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