Walk into any supplements store and you will probably get upsold into buying 37 products you didn’t know you needed. The truth is, the supplement industry is hella shady and will tell you anything to make you buy an extra product. But will the product actually help you, or do anything at all?
I don’t want anyone wasting dollars on supplements that aren’t going to help. You can get to your goal without ending up with a cupboard full of useless crap.
Diet & Training is Number 1
Before you look to supplements, fix your diet and training. If you are serious about your goal, track macros so you are eating towards the body you want. Follow a legit strength training program. Track your progress. If you are looking at supplements but you aren’t willing to put in the effort to fix your training and diet, you are wasting your time.
Look it up
Don’t believe the hype. If you are going to be buying supplements, go for ones that are backed up by science. If you are unsure how to tell what works, the best place to start is examine.com, a free resource where you can look up the ingredients and see what the current evidence says about it. If there are any products I am unsure about, I use this resource to get my facts straight. Check out the sources used in this article if you want to do some further reading on the facts about supplementation.
…So what supps am I taking?
#1 Creatine Monohydrate
How much? 5g per day
This is a staple for me. It is one of the most well researched supplements with proven effectiveness. It is relatively inexpensive and easy to take.
“Quite probably, creatine is the most important natural fuel-enhancing supplement yet to be discovered for strength trainers. Unlike a lot of supplements, creatine has been extensively researched, with more than 500 studies conducted to date. Of these studies, 300 have focused on the performance-enhancing value of creatine, and about 70 percent of these studies report positive effects. Exciting experiments show that creatine produces significant improvement in sports that require high levels of strength and power, including strength training, rowing, and cycling sprints. Another big plus for creatine: Several creatine supplementation studies have shown gains in body mass averaging 2 to 5 pounds during 4 to 12 weeks of training. It was once thought that this increase was mostly water weight gain. But now we’re seeing that a significant amount of the gain is pure muscle, and only a small portion is water.” (Drskleiner.com, 2017)
How much? 1 tablet
When? Before my first meal
You can get probiotics through diet, however I like to make probiotic intake easier by taking a supplement. To find out more about food sources and supplementing, check out “All about Probiotics”. According to Precision Nutrition “good bacteria in the gut can influence our overall health, metabolism, digestion, body composition and immunity” (Precision Nutrition, 2017)
#3 Multi Vitamin / Greens Supplement
How much? 1 serving daily
When? Upon waking
I like to either take a multi or green supp daily. When I’m dieting to get lean, I’m not taking in as much food and am training quite hard. This can sometimes mean it’s harder to meet nutritional requirements through diet. A simple multi can help make up for any deficiencies. At the moment I use vital greens or Orange Triad. You should always make sure your diet contains nutrient dense foods, the multi is on top of this and not instead of.
#4 Protein Drinks & Bars
How much? 1 daily with 30-40g protein
When? As my first or last meal of the day
I generally consider these to be food, as they make up my macros rather than my micronutrient requirements. For me, using tasty and convenient products to help hit my protein requirements with ease is important. On a busy schedule, these can make sticking to the plan a breeze. I always opt for a product with 30-40g protein so I need smaller amounts of cooked protein to hit my goals.
How much? 25 mg of zinc + 400-500 mg of magnesium citrate
When? 30mins before bed
A Zinc and magnesium combo is something I take each evening According to Lyle Mcdonald of bodyrecomposition.com “many find that the combination of the two (zinc+magnesium) taken at bedtime helps with sleep, a process critical to overall recovery.” (Bodyrecomposition.com, 2017)
Lyle has a longstanding record of giving excellent information for health and fitness.
When? Before an AM workout
How much? 1 serve (with caffeine and beta alanine)
Though I have taken a pre workout in the past, I don’t currently take one, as I work out at night. I only like consuming caffeine once a day and before noon. This is because I value sleep quality. I understand the important role sleep plays in recovery, health and body composition. If I do workout in the morning, I will take something like C4 if I feel like I need it. Though generally energy is not a problem if diet and sleep are on point.
Not going overboard with supps and shifting the focus to a sound diet and training program is a step most of us need to take. Sticking with my top 5 means I’m not wasting time, money or cupboard space, and instead focusing on the big rocks. If you want my top dieting tips, check out my article on dieting mistakes here.
Drskleiner.com. (2017). Dr. Susan M. Kleiner, PHD, RD, FACN, CNS, FISSN • FAQs. [online] Available at: http://drskleiner.com/FAQs.html [Accessed 15 Aug. 2017].
Precision Nutrition. (2017). All about probiotics: How to get them from both food and supplements. | Precision Nutrition. [online] Available at: http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-probiotics [Accessed 15 Aug. 2017].
Bodyrecomposition.com. (2017). Supplements Part 1 : Bodyrecomposition. [online] Available at: http://www.bodyrecomposition.com/muscle-gain/supplements-part-1.html [Accessed 15 Aug. 2017].