The supplement industry is a billion dollar industry. That’s billion… with a B!
Your friends, family and co-workers all probably take some sort of supplement, but why is it that not everyone is walking around looking more like the “before” picture than the “after” picture on the label of most supplements?
It’s all in their name – Supplements.
Think of supplements as a tool to fill in the gaps of your diet. Granted, most people are taking supplements that are filling in gaps that don’t exist, or providing nutrients they don’t need.
I want to save you some money, help you sift through the bullshit and get down to what supplements really make a difference, and most importantly, which supplements to avoid.
Allow me to preface my list by saying this:
If you could spend the same money you want to spend on supplements on improving your diet, do that first. Then come back to buy the supplements I recommend.
If you’ve already got your diet in check and want to invest in muscle building or fat burning supplements to fill in the gaps in your diet, continue reading.
First Tier: Whey Protein and Creatine
You’ve no doubt heard of whey protein, and for good reason. Whey can be digested faster than chicken, eggs, fish, or any other lean protein source, making it a perfect choice for a post-workout drink.
Whey is relatively cheap, but not all whey proteins are created equal.
When you shop for whey, pay attention to price per serving, sugars, carbs, fats, and calories.
In general, you’re looking for the most protein in grams per dollar, with the least sugars/carbs/fats/calories.
Listed below are whey protein options that I’ve had success with, as well as a link for purchase:
- 100% Whey by Optimum Nutrition
- Combat Powder by MusclePharm
- Syntha-6 by BSN (contains several types of proteins)
One of the most talked about supplements in the bodybuilding industry.
People who aren’t a part of our culture think it’s weird, people who are a part of our culture think it’s all water-weight, but both those groups of people are dreadfully wrong.
Creatine has been proven by numerous studies to increase muscle size, strength, and endurance.
Now where the controversy comes along is as to what “form” of creatine one ought to take.
Put simply, you don’t need anything other than creatine monohydrate. All the other mystical forms of creatine are marketing ploys to get you to shell out an extra buck for a product which gives you the same results.
Here’s what I like:
Second Tier: Fish Oil, Casein Protein, Multivitamins
Sounds gross, smells funny, makes your burps weird. But does it help? The science says yes. What’s difficult about fish oil is that it’s pretty tough to isolate its benefits to your body unless you stop taking your other supps, and that’s simply not an option.
So should you take fish oil? I do. Professional athletes do. The science supports it, so I say go for it.
You don’t need anything fancy, but here’s what’s worked for me:
I’m a fan of casein protein. Casein takes twice as long to digest as whey protein, suiting it perfectly to be taken before bed, your longest period of fasting during a 24 hour cycle.
If you want to grow throughout the night, casein can help support that growth with a slow stream of amino acids. Casein is expensive though, so be warned.
I’ve enjoyed the following:
“Take your vitamins!” Mom wasn’t leading you astray when she pushed those gummy vites on you before you grew into a hulking beast (side note, if you didn’t grow up with gummy vitamins, go relive your childhood).
Vitamins really are important for maintaining your body, even if you aren’t a hardcore athlete. Even more so for freaks like us, the body needs to have a fresh supply of nutrients to support muscle growth.
Here’s the deal with multivitamins. You can probably get by with just a store brand active lifestyle multi, but if you have the cash, you may benefit from one of the leading bodybuilding multivitamins.
Here’s what’s worked for me:
Third Tier: CLA, ZMA, Pre-Workouts
If I’ve had a rough day or didn’t get enough sleep the night before my workout I might bust out a pre-workout supplement. However, CLA, ZMA and Pre-workouts supplements are non-essential in my eyes.
The effect of each of them (diet control, sleep quality, energy) can be manufactured mentally or acquired through other natural means. That doesn’t mean the supplements don’t help, but rather that they should take the lowest priority when it comes time to take out the pocketbook.
And in the case of these categories, I recommend you try many different options, and see what works for you. These are much more a matter of preference than the other supplements. Also, you can get the same effect from caffeine that you would form most pre-workouts.
Preworkout Supplements I’ve Used and Like:
Bonus Supplement: Ephedrine, Caffeine, Asprin (ECA Stack)
While it’s technically not a supplement, the ECA Stack is one of the most effective combination of legal drugs you can take to increase fat loss.
This supplement alone deserves an entire write up on it’s own, but for now all you need to know is the basics:
ECA acts as an appetite suppressant and a mild thermogenesis (It helps your body burn more fat), and it actually does what it is supposed to do.
If you’re a united states citizen, you might notice that there is a ban on ephedrine. Not to worry – ephedrine can be found in drugstores over the counter in medicines like “Bronkaid” and “Primatene”.
The stuff is completley harmless if taken correctly – no more than 2 capsules a day for most people.
However, the outlaw in the U.S is because American’s are an overweight and impatient bunch. Some people thought it would be okay to increase the dosage and frequency and results would come faster.
Wrong! Increasing the dosage and frequency of this supplement is dangerous and can be deadly in rare cases.
Disclaimer: I’ve used ECA for years and it has helped me lean out significantly. However, if you take it improperly it can be dangerous so consult a physician before making any decisions to take this supplement.
So there you have it, a quick rundown of what the world of supplements has to offer. Again, take care of your diet first, then supplements, from top tier down. Now get off your computer and HIT THE GYM!
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Make Your Own Homemade Supplements
This is a guest blog post by Jack Morrow. Jack has done an interview with MuscleClass.com which can be found here: http://www.muscleclass.com/490/ripped-redditor-jack-morrow-interview/