Q and A: My Supplement List
Q: What, if any, supplements do you actually take? I know you’re a whole-food-before-supps kind of guy, but I also know that you get your goody basket from Biotest every month. Just curious as to what stuff you find worthwhile.
A: I’ve discussed my stance on supplements in the past, so at the expense of sounding like a broken record, those interested can click HERE to read more about it.
Admittedly, it’s a bit old (I wrote it like four years ago), but all in all my views on the topic still stand.
Which is to say, much like Dr. John Berardi, I like to divide my supplements into two categories:
1. Supplements that help you get your dieselfication on.
2. Supplements that increase the likelihood that someone of the opposite sex will want to hang out you. Sometimes, if you play your cards right, even with your clothes off. What whaaaaaaaaaaat.
Okay, just kidding. Those aren’t the actual categories. If you really want to know, just click on the link above and find out! Do I have to do everything for you?
………Fair warning, though: the actual categories aren’t nearly as boss.
Anyways, since the question is about ME and what supplements I take, I’ll preface everything by being as clear as possible:
REAL food is the best supplement out there.
Yes, I feel REAL food takes precedence over ANY supplement you can get your hands on.
Supplements are exactly that……..SUPPLEMENTS. They supplement your current diet or way of eating.
For instance, if we’re going to be honest with ourselves, the limiting factor of why we have an ever growing obesity problem in this country isn’t because we’re not taking enough supplements (it’s a multi-multi BILLION dollar industry after all). On the contrary, it may be due, in no small part, to one of two scenarios:
- People have no idea what REAL food actually is.
- People can’t seem to step away from the damn cookie jar.
The latter seems pretty intuitive if you ask me. It’s no secret that crushing a row of Oreo cookies while watching The Price Is Right probably isn’t doing your waistline any favors.
It’s the former – not knowing what real food is – that throws a monkey wrench into things.
A stack of five chocolate chip/banana pancakes covered in syrupy goop, topped with whipped cream and a pint of ice-cream for breakfast? Cool. Bring it on.
Ask that same person to eat five whole eggs using a vat of butter? Most will look at you as if you asked them to club a baby seal. Someone call the cholesterol police!!!!
It’s astounding how much callous disregard most people have towards their bodies. It’s not uncommon for some to be more concerned about what type of gas they put into their car than what type of fuel they put into their own body!
I know when I have a night of less than exemplary eating (last night, actually), I feel like complete garbage the next day. Seriously, as I type this sentence, my stomach is one massive ball of gluten, and I’m pretty sure I’m going to give birth to a food baby any minute now.
I can’t help but think to myself, “this is what A LOT of people out there feel like every…….single…….day.” This is normal to them. This overall sense of lethargic, groggy, insulin coma, all I want to do is sit on the couch and watch tv…….is baseline.
Worse still, for many, they feel that by taking “x” supplement, which they have no idea what it actually does – without changing their dietary habits, no less – is the key to covering all their nutritional bases.
Is that REALLY the missing link? Answer: you bet your ass it isn’t!
Sadly, they have no idea what it’s like to feel energetic, lively, or any other adjective that’s the exact opposite of “dude, I feel like complete ass”……….without popping a pill or spending an exorbitant amount of money on supplements.
I can’t stress it enough……………………EAT REAL FOOD.
Trust me, for most trainees that’s the only supplement they’ll ever need.
If only this was how politicians REALLY talked.
That said, concurrently, it’s impossible to think that one can cover ALL their nutritional needs through food alone.
In this sense, supplements do have a time and place. Sometimes – whether it’s due to allergies, various food intolerances, religious beliefs, or maybe someone is prepping for a figure competition or bodybuilding show – supplements do play an important purpose and role when trying to achieve a certain goal or look.
Welcome to the Part You Probably Skipped to Anyways
To that end, firstly, I actually do practice what I preach and do go out of my way to eat food as much as I can. If you don’t believe me, check out my fridge.
Secondly, and more to the point, there are several supplements that I take on an almost daily basis. Some I take because the Biotest Fairy drops them off every month.
Most of the supps I take, however, have no bells or whistles attached to them. They don’t promise 417% more muscle growth, or say they’ll turn my chest into diamonds. Instead, the ones I do take, I choose for the health benefits alone.
Daily Supplement List
Flameout – 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.
I won’t belabor the point here, but suffice it to say, Flameout is easily one of the best fish oil products on the market.
Vitamin D – 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).
And don’t let the haters fool you. Direct sunlight isn’t the end of the world. As little as 20 minutes per day will more then meet your vitamin D requirements. For those who live in colder climates, though, supplementation (especially in the winter months) is paramount.
Greens Product – while I think it’s important to listen to you mother and eat your fruits and vegetables; sometimes there just isn’t enough time. The best alternative is having the ability to toss a scoop or two of a greens product into one of your shakes.
Two of my favorites are Biotest Superfood, and Human Performance Athletic Greens.
Protein Powder – 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.
Ideally you’d want to try to find a brand that have little to no artificial sweeteners. I like Grow. But I know there are plenty of other brands out there that are equally as high quality, and may have a smidge less sweetener added.
Dandelion Root – after reading Jonny Bowden’s 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth a few years back, and how much he RAVED on dandelion root, I hopped on that train ASAP.
Clearly, I wasn’t about to head out to my yard and pick dandelions and eat them, so I opted to supplement instead.
While the health benefits are many, the most important is arguably dandelion’s affect on the liver. To quote Dr. Bowden:
Since the liver’s job is to detoxify every chemical, pollutant, and medicine that we’re exposed to – according to some experts it performs more than 5,000 enzymatic reactions – keeping it strong and functioning smoothly is of prime importance to our health.
Probiotic – in the past, I’ve supplemented with a pill. But now I’m obsessed with kefir as well as with this wholemilk yogurt (made from grassfed cows) that I buy from Whole Foods, which provides more than enough “good” bacteria to keep my intestinal tract (and digestive system) healthy.
I add about 1/2 cup to one of my shakes and I’m good to go.
Spike – taken intravenously through the left ventricle. I need to try to ween myself off of caffeine at some point, but when I’m coaching upwards of 7-8 hours per day, sometimes I just need that added kick.
At least I’m not THIS bad (an old video of one of our powerlifters warming up)
ZMA – I find this helps me with recovery. And more importantly, it definitely helps with my sleep quality. It doesn’t help with getting to sleep (I have no issues there anyways), but it does help me attain a deeper sleep. Moreover, if I ever want to dream about, I don’t know, riding a dinosaur through the hallways of my old high school or something equally as wacky, ZMA is where it’s at. It gives me the most vivid dreams. It’s awesome.
And that’s about it. Pretty boring in the grand scheme of things. Every now and then I’ll throw in some creatine, but for the most part, that’s my supplement list.
To reiterate, most of the one’s I take, I take for the health benefits they provide, and not to offset anything I’m not doing with my regular eating habits and training.
It’s been said supplements are progress enhancers, not progress starters. If your current diet and training program isn’t getting the job done, then taking “x” supplement probably isn’t going to be the answer.
Comments for This Entry
Fees"riding a dinosaur through the halls of my old high school" I just shit a kidney, because I've definitely had similar dreams because of ZMA! Great post Tony
January 18, 2012 at 11:14 am |
AnonymousYeah, ZMA is crazy stuff. I always warn people about the dreams they may have. Freud would have a field day.
January 18, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
Larskr87If were handed free BCAA, when and why would you take them? Or why not?
January 18, 2012 at 11:16 am |
AnonymousI find they're most useful when doing some hard-core dieting. Other than that, assuming ample protein intake from animal flesh, protein powder, etc......you'll get plenty of BCAAs in your diet.
January 18, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
RyanAwesome post Tony..... I as well take Spike straight to the left ventricle.
January 18, 2012 at 11:34 am |
CharlieSpeaking of eating cute and furry animals, check out what I came across yesterday! http://artofmanliness.com/2012/01/16/how-to-field-dress-a-squirrel/ I appreciate the emphasis on eating real food before considering supplements. It keeps things simple for us laypeople.
January 18, 2012 at 11:53 am |
AnonymousGlad you liked it Charlie! And thanks for the link.
January 18, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
Brian LThat list is pretty much 100% in line with what I take man. Toss in some Vit-C and that'll do it. Food first. If we could all live and thrive on pills, we would. But we can't. So don't. :)
January 18, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
Josh T.Hey Tony, I'm curious: do you have cheat days at all? And if you do, what do you eat/what would you recommend eating? Not sure if you've covered this in the past or not, but I figured I'd go ahead and ask.
January 18, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
Mike A.Great post, Tony! I feel like whomever asked you that question is probably supernaturally witty and is able to deflect bullets with his glutes.
January 18, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
Chris M.What's up with the vivid dreams?? That's always freaked me out!! So glad you just said that...
January 18, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
AnonymousI have no idea to be honest. I'm sure someone smarter than me knows, but I want to say there's some kind of receptor in the brain that's activated with ZMA.
January 19, 2012 at 7:28 am |
Gwenbrumfield"It’s astounding how much callous disregard most people have towards their bodies. It’s not uncommon for some to be more concerned about what type of gas they put into their car than what type of fuel they put into their own body!" YES! I often hear people use the excuse of "but it's so EXPENSIVE to eat healthy...."---to which I want to stab my eyes out with a paper clip. So, instead of maybe spending a tab bit more on healthy whole foods they waste their money and efforts on cheap food products....and then go out and buy designer jeans. To each their own but I'm happy knowing that I'm doing the absolute best I can for my health now and in the future :)
January 18, 2012 at 10:59 pm |
AnonymousExactly. Food is an investment, not a cost. I'd argue that if people spent a little more on healthier food options, the money they save in health care costs (diabetes medication for example) is infinite.
January 19, 2012 at 7:30 am |
Harold GibbonsA few nights ago, I was one of Obama's body guards, pushing a Suburban up to the top of the pyramids in Oaxaca Mexico. Why? The POTUS was swimming in the pool at the top of the pyramid. WTF, ZMA. Tony, Great post. Thanks for reiterating the importance of eating real food, and for pointing out the difference between 'health' supplements and 'performance' supplements. As long as kids don't hit GNC and start putting Greens+ in with their N.O.X-plode.
January 18, 2012 at 11:20 pm |
Punjob83where do you buy your ZMA coach?
January 23, 2012 at 9:54 am |
AnonymousYou can get it pretty much anywhere. Your local GNC or Vitamin World should carry it.
January 23, 2012 at 11:46 am |
My Friday Five – 1/27/12 @ Elevate Your Performance[...] Q and A: My Supplement List by Tony Gentilcore. I promise I don’t have a man-crush on Tony, he’s just been putting out some great stuff lately! Tony goes over the supplements he thinks can help you. [...]
January 27, 2012 at 11:35 am |