Let’s talk supplements. What are supplements? Who takes supplements? Why do they take supplements? Should you take supplements? Lot’s of questions, few answers. Of course the one’s who manufacture the supplements don’t want you to ask too many questions, you know, cause according to them you wouldn’t understand the “Science” anyway, but don't worry they have studies that prove their snake oils and magic potions will get you the results you seek. The ones marketing this stuff, they don't want you to ask any questions, all they want you to do is look at the cool packaging with the muscle bound roid head or that fabulous photoshopped female with those chiseled abdominals and think no more. So lets get real on supplements.
Remember: If it’s too good to be true, somebody is tying to sell you something.
What are supplements?
Supplements are just that, they are something that supplements, something that completes or enhances something else when added to it. In nutritional terms, supplements are nutrition suppose that is supposed to give you that edge you’re looking for to take your performance, your size, your strength or your recovery to the next level. They mostly come in the form of stimulants or micro nutrients and most of them can be bought over the counter at your local super duper store. However, if you are taking a ‘Supplement’ that is not bought over the counter, hopefully you’ve consulted your doctor and/or have done you due diligence and researched what you’re taking. Just know, that if you are thinking about taking ‘supplements’ at that level, they aren’t referred to as a supplements anymore, they are drugs meant to take your body to another level quicker than you can in a natural way, and that makes you a fucking cheater. But hey cheating is only cheating when you get caught? Right? Keep in mind, you may get bigger, faster and stronger a lot faster than normal but these drugs have side effects that aren’t pleasant.
Who takes supplements?
Anyone with money to burn takes supplements. Seriously, supplements are like a cocaine habit, it is just another way of saying you make way too much money. However, it’s not all bad, there are some worth while supplements out there. We will get them soon.
Why do they take supplements?
They believe the hype, for the most part. They’ve been fooled by the marketing. They are looking for that pill, powder or bar that is going to be the convenient, easy way to the body they desire. They could be lazy, impatient or just curious. Some do want that edge, be it size, speed or strength and they are willing to do whatever it takes to get there and they can afford it. Think of it like this, you’ve seen those movies where with the celebrity that got incredibly ripped in a very short period of time to play the part? You think to yourself, wow, if they can do it why can’t I? Then you think, well they have trainers and nutritionists helping them along the way. You’re right they do, they also have chemists.
Unfortunately, for the most part, if you do take a supplement or drug for a specific effect, if or when you stop taking that drug or supplement, you will likely to return right back to were you started and in some cases come back even worse than when you started. So proceed with caution.
Should you take supplements?
You probably don’t need to take supplements. But like I mentioned earlier, they are some supplements out there that you may want to consider. But, in general, all your pre, during and post workout supplements are usually crap. Usually, just being active and eating right will take care of 90% of your fitness goals.
What are the bullshit supplements out there?
N.O. supplements: AKA Nitric Oxcide. N.O. stand for No, just no. This is a too-good-to-be-true, bullshit supplement on the market. This supplement gained popularity when some MMA fighters started to promote their ‘Legal’ enhancers and it caught on like wild fire. You take a pill twice a day and it helps deliver oxygen to the muscle by dilating blood red blood cells. If you think it’s helping your metabolism, think again, it’s doing the opposite. It will lead to energy depletion, free radical generation, gene mutation. It's crap, it doesn’t work. Save you money.
Pre-workouts: Most pre-workouts are comprised of caffeine, green tea extract, amino acids, B vitamins, arginine, tourine, and sweeter amongst other additive fillers. They will get your heart rate up and allow you to get an extra rep or two during your sets. But, it’s nothin a shot of espresso and an apple won’t do at a fraction of the cost.
Proprietary blends: This is not a supplement, this is about labeling. This is a way manufactures can give you as little of the ‘Active Ingredient’ or the most expensive ingredient as possible to avoid a law suit. Proprietary blend is a usually trademarked combination of several supplements to give the effect you’re looking for, however, the most expensive supplements take a back seat to the cheap stuff. Fuck Proprietary blends! Tell me how much of the good stuff I’m paying for, no secrets in my supplements!!
Testosterone enhancers: Most STUDIES on these cheap, over the counter supplements are done with older men, and they only help to ‘Normalize’ low T count. Nuff said.
Estrogen blockers: These is supposed to block the body from storing fat. Kids, your body NEEDS fat to survive. It will store what it needs or store if you’re over eating.
Most ‘Protein Bars’ and shakes: These are where you can spend a bunch of money. I’ve even heard trainers say you must consume protein an hour after your workout or you will lose any gains. Such bullshit!! I would argue your body needs more sugar post workout than it does protein. But, that is another talk.
Weight gainers: Yes, there are drinks designed to help you take in a huge load of calories in a very short period of time. These drinks will back you up for a week and will ultimately just help you get fat, the texture is like drinking pancake batter. Have fun with that.
Thermogenics: These are appetite suppressants, AKA diet pills. They are marketed as an energy booster that will enhance focus. These are not to be taken lightly. Some over the counter Thermogenics can have a serious impact on your heart rate. They can make you dizzy, sweaty, unable to focus, etc. Not to mention they can become habit forming and screw up your endocrine system.
Fat blockers: Just a bunch of stupidity.
Appetite suppressants: Some supplement claim to help fill you up before you eat. This will cause you to eat less. Oh, you mean I take a pill and I won’t eat a big dinner? Sure, but then you’ll be starving before you go to bed and you’ll probably end up eating a bucket of shit. This doesn’t address the real issue, that is your stomach is stretched and needs more food to satiate your appetite. This might be a time for some intermittent fasting.
What are the worth while supplements:
Creatine: Is a muscle hydrator. Massive research, the jury is in.
Caffeine: Energy creator, cognitive enhancer, laxative, liver stimulator.
Protein: The main thing I’ll say about this is make sure the list of ingredients on the package isn’t a mile long.
B.C.A.A.’s, this is protein without the calories. This one is hit or miss for me. Do your research before taking them.
Fish Oil, this one is also hit or miss. I’ve taken fish oil and not taken fish oil with no results. However, the nutrition world insists and I haven’t done enough research to debate them.
Micronutrients: Vitamin A, E, K, D. B complex, fat soluble vitamins, stimulates brain function and regulates hormones.
Minerals: Magnesium, calcium and Zinc and don’t be afraid to eat salt.
These are the only real supplements I know of that will enhance your workout intensity, performance and recovery.
Now let’s move on to some other supplements you not have hear of.
Nootropics – sometimes called smart drugs – are compounds that enhance brain function. Many have been widely researched & have shown incredibly promising benefits in the medical field for improving brain function after strokes or improving cognition, verbal dexterity, memory and other major markers in those suffering brain damage. Some are being seriously studied to help those with Dementia and Alzheimers. For those of us who may simply desire a mental boost, are studying for a big exam or often looking for a way of overcoming social anxiety there’s a nootropic for you! WARNING: some of these nootropics freely available over the internet have little to no research behind them so in spite of the promise of many of these compounds, caution should be exerted when deciding to wade into using these drugs.
Some of the most popular & widely used are from the “racetam” family which contains dozens of related compounds. The best studied one is piracetam, but the most effective nootropics are aniracetam and phenylpiracetam. Aniracetam can have a stress lowering effect as well as being a memory enhancer. There's a good amount of research to suggest that phenylpiracetam is effective in reducig the rate of and symptoms of cognitive decline and is purported to enhance physical performance.
One more common and benign is called:
L-theanine: An amino acid found primarily in black and green tea. Research shows that L-theanine works synergistically with caffeine and is able to neutralize the speedy, jaggy effects of your morning coffee without reducing its mind-energizing, fat-burning benefits..…..on an EEG, brain waves can be seen to actually be smoothed out—but not flattened out—by supplemental L-theanine. The body is relaxed, the mind is calmed, but you can stay in the energy zone. Taken with coffee it serves as a kind of benign Adderall giving a calming, energy enabling focus.
Adaptogens: Adaptogens are a unique class of healing plants: They help balance, restore and protect the body. But an adaptogen doesn’t have a specific action. Instead, It helps you respond to stressors, normalizing your physiological functions. examples include ashwaganda, astragalus, ginseng, licorice root, holy basil, rhodiola…Some of these have been used in Eastern medicine for over 2,500 years and have immuno-modulating effects that can boost your immune system and lower cortisol levels. Find the ones that work for you. There are indeed some high quality combinations available with excellent feedback in effectiveness.
An example of a food that can actually be used supplementally and on a daily basis is the good old raw carrot!
It is so nearly indigestible that, when it is well chewed or grated, it helps to stimulate the intestine and reduce the reabsorption of estrogen and the absorption of bacterial toxins. So it can have a gut protective and hormone balancing effect by taking some of the burden off the liver. Shred up those carrots with some Coconut Oil and a little vinegar and consider it medicine!
In conclusion, if you’re considering supplement, get your diet squared away first. Listen to your body, find where you need a boost. Research some of the supplements I’ve listed and decide for yourself.