Five Supplements I Can’t Live Without. Seriously, I’d Die!
Before I give you my list, I need to rant a little bit. Sorry.
To me, supplements are exactly that – SUPPLEMENTS (they “supplement” your current diet). Take, for example, the guy who is 40 lbs overweight, asking which supplements he should be taking in order to get back into shape.
Me: What did you have for breakfast?
Him: Uh, I don’t eat breakfast.
Me. What did you have for lunch?
Him: Dunkin donuts.
Me: Do you see a problem here?
Him: [blank stare] So, uh, what should I take?
Unfortunately, this is more common than you think. People are generally under the assumption that so long as they’re taking supplements (any supplement) that there’s no reason to hold themselves accountable for their own actions.
Supplements will fix everything!
Why should they hold themselves accountable when you can just walk into your local GNC and haphazardly drop two-hundred bones on something that sounds like it belongs in a science fiction movie?
I mean, how can you not want to try something that will give you:
The World’s strongest vaso-anabolic psychoactive experience. Our secret cellular volumizing formula is patented to nanomolecularize your vascular expanders.
For those scratching their heads, in supplement speak, I’m pretty sure that it means you’ll cause an earthquake when you flex your pecs and/or you’ll be able to fly. Or, maybe it just means you’ll end up with explosive diarrhea. I don’t know, something will happen.
Listen, outside of getting contest lean, if your current diet/training plan isn’t getting you the results you want, taking a plethora of supplements probably isn’t going to make any bit of difference. I’d go so far as to say that if you’re making a concerted effort to eat whole, un-processed, real foods, you probably have all your bases covered – so save your money.
But, the kicker is that most people have atrocious eating habits. And well, you can’t deny the many health benefits that certain supplements have to offer.
That being said, I don’t like blanket statements such as “all supplements are a waste of time and money.” On the contrary, there are a host of supplements that I recommend to my clients (and take personally) that I don’t necessarily consider “supplements” in every sense of the word.
I like to use the same approach as Dr. John Berardi with regards to categorizing supplements.
Essential Supplements (Non-supplement, supplements): proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals These can all be used by everyone based on their dietary needs.
Protein – Protein Powder (whey, casein, milk protein isolates, etc)
Fats – Fish Oil, flax oil
Carbohydrates – Post-Training drinks
Green’s product – Greens plus, Superfood
BCAA’s (Branch Chained Amino Acids)
***All of these can technically be attained through whole foods alone, but supplementation is often utilized to meet daily requirements/needs based on lifestyle. For the most part I feel that everyone could benefit to some degree using many of these “supplements.”
Targeted Supplements (the supplement, supplements): CNS stimulants, thermogenics, acid buffers, etc Used only in special physiological situations based on special needs.
Important questions to ask before taking these supplements, however:
1. What physiological system do I hope to target with this supplement?
For instance, ask most trainees what Beta Alanine is, and you’ll most likely get a quizzacle look – kinda like what happens when my girlfriend asks me to vacuum.
Simly put: if you don’t know what the heck the supplement is supposed to do, then you don’t need to be taking it. Period.
2. Is there objective research demonstrating real benefit and safety?
Using the popular NO Explode as an example…is it safe? If you ask Dave Barr, the answer would be a resounding nope.
The combination of screwing with key enzymes in the heart and brain, while also hindering creatine uptake into those two organs, makes this one about as useful as a poop flavored lolly pop.
[Side Note: I added the unsavory lolly pop flavor for effect ].
What about creatine? Is it safe? First off, it IS NOT a steroid contrary to what many people (particularly parents) may believe.
Do you eat red meat? That contains creatine. Secondly, it’s the most studied supplement in history. I just typed “creatine AND performance” in the search engine and came up with over 1600 studies. A review of over 500 studies evaluating effects on muscle physiology and/or exercise capacity; 300 have evaluated performance value and 70% showed positive results. Of these, very few showed any negative effects.
Short answer: it’s safe and it works. And no, your kidneys will not explode.
In a nutshell, do your research and ask qualified people on the merits of supplements and whether or not you should be using them. While many supplements do deserve the negative press they get, there are also many out there that do not.
Tomorrow, I’ll share my top five. Can you feel the excitement???????
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