Five Supplements I Can’t Live Without. Seriously, I’d Die! (Part II)
As I noted in Part I yesterday, when it comes to supplements, I take more of a simpleton approach. Which is to say, I’m not one of those guys that spends a mortgage payment each month buying everything on the shelf in order to get my swoleification on.
While I’m pretty lucky in the sense that I get a “goodie package” sent to me every month from Biotest, many are surprised to learn that even though that’s the case, I still don’t go out of my way to take that many supplements (relatively speaking).
Truth be told, though, I give away a lot of my stuff to co-workers, friends, and family – and, I hook my girlfriend up as well. Which begs the question: does she date me for my uncanny wit and charm, or my supplements?
Me: Hey babe, how was your day?
Girlfriend: Great! You got a package in the mail today.
Me: Oh, that must be my goodie package. Say, I was thinking that later tonight I could light some candles, make us dinner, wash the dishes, rub your feet, and then afterwards take you to…..
Girlfriend: Lets cut through BS Gentilcore – do you have my Hot Rox or what?
Me: Um, yeah, here you go. I love you.
Girlfriend: I love you too. Where’s the Flame out?
Okay, all kidding aside – given all the options out there, from the hundreds (if not thousands) of supplements to pick from (most of which suck pond water), they’re really are only a handful that I feel are worthwhile to take.
This one is pretty easy. We all know that protein (or more specifically, amino acids) is the building block of muscle. When we lift heavy things, we break muscle down, and it’s important to take in ample protein to ensure proper recovery, and in the long-term, growth, of said muscle.
Most often, eating various cute, furry animals will easily do the job – but like everyone else, I’m busy and sometimes it’s more convenient just to pound a shake and be done with it.
While we could make an argument either way on which “type” of protein powder is more worthwhile…those who argue whey protein will say it’s absorbed quicker and is most ideal to take immediately after training. Those who are proponents of casein will note that its absorption rate is slower and helps “preserve” muscle to a greater degree.
At the end of the day, I don’t think it really matters much, and you’re best just using a product that uses BOTH (since that’s how nature intended it anyways).
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past ten years, you’ve undoubtedly heard of the many health benefits of fish oil. Literally, you name it and fish oil probably cures it. Except gonorrhea.
But seriously, everything from reducing your risk of cardiovascular disease, helping reduce inflammation, joint health, to improving blood/lipid profiles – fish oil has all the bases covered.
The only caveat, however, is which brand you buy – as it’s important to take into consideration the PURITY and POTENTCY of the product.
Ideally, you want to buy a fish oil supplement that’s at least 50% pure.
To do this, simply divide the amount of combined EPA and DHA (the omega 3’s) by the total amount of fat in the product. Most fish oil products you’ll find in your local grocery store contain 180mg of EPA and 120mg of DHA per one gram capsule.
180mg + 120mg = 300 mg of total omega-3’s (EPA/DHA combined)
0.3/1g (of fat per capsule)=.3 or 30%
Essentially most fish oil supplements found in local drug stores or grocery stores are 30% pure. Sure, they’re cheap, but they’re also potentially loaded with mercury, toxins, and other contaminants.
While you’ll end up forking over a little more for 50% pure fish oil products, it’s definitely worth it. As an added bonus, the purer the product is, the less likely you are to experience any fishy after taste or burps.
This won’t matter as much for those who live in warmer climates, but for those us who aren’t as fortunate, vitamin D supplementation is almost a necessity (less exposure to direct sunlight). Behind fish oil, I’d rank vitamin D as my “go to” supplement as it plays a role in alleviating/reducing things like chronic fatigue, depression (seasonal affective disorder), joint pain, osteoporosis, and uncontrollable weight gain (to name a few).
What’s more, considering that vitamin D deficiency is almost at epidemic levels (regardless of living in warmer clients or not), it stands to reason that most people reading this blog post would benefit from including more it in their daily regimen.
As my colleague, Brian St. Pierre, has noted on numerous occasions, gut health is kind of an important thing. Consider the following:
- The gastrointestinal system comprises 75% of the body’s immune system.
- There are more neurons in the small intestine than in the entire spinal cord.
- It is the only system in the body that has its own, independently operating nervous system, called the enteric nervous system.
- If you stretched out the gastrointestinal system in its entirety, it would have the surface area of a regulation sized singles tennis court.
- There are over 400 species of microbes living in your gut, totaling over 15 pounds of mass and containing more bacteria than there are known stars in the sky.
To that end, even though I include things like Greek yogurt in my diet, I still feel that supplementing with an additional probiotic is important.
While I tend to lean more towards The Pearl, it’s important to vary the types of strands you take on a month by month basis.
Pigging back on the above, bromelain is another supplement that plays a huge role in gut health/digestion, as well as speeding wound healing and helping to reduce inflammation. Up until a few months ago, I had never really given it the time of day, until the Mountaindog himself, John Meadows, introduced it to me.
Almost within weeks, I noticed my knees feeling better. And, as an added bonus, I wasn’t nearly as “gassy.” Win win!
Interestingly enough, while many people are quick to point to pineapple as the best source of bromelain – it’s actually the stem where the good stuff is. Hence, if you’re going to try it, supplementation is almost a neccesity.
BONUS – Athletic Greens
Note: I originally wrote this article a few years ago, and since then Athletic Greens has entered my life.
Ingesting a high-quality greens product daily is just about one of the the best “cover your bases” healthy habits you can implement (outside of the Dan John staples of flossing and wearing your seatbelt).
Real food is going to trump any supplement, but at least here you ensure you ingest a cornucopia of good ingredients for your body in a convenient, quick-n-easy manner. And the best part is that this greens product doesn’t taste like seaweed blasted out of a whale’s rectum.
It actually, you know, tastes good as a stand alone thing.
Nevertheless, it’s something I take daily – as does my wife – and it’s also something I recommend to all my athletes and clients.
For more information you can go HERE.
And there you have it – my supplements I can’t live without. Yes, there are a few others that I take (creatine, Superfood, vitamin awesome), but the ones listed above are the ones I tend to place the most emphasis on, if for nothing else the health benefits alone.
What’s on your list?