I get asked all the time about what are the most effective supplements I take, or what supplements I think people should take. My short answer is none, unless their nutrition is absolutely spot on. Supplements are the tip of the iceberg, nutrition is the iceberg.
I will share with you a story about a friend of mine that I travelled away with a while ago. While we were away we shared a two bedroom apartment, so we spent a lot of time together. During the time together he noticed that at the same time everyday I would be taking my usual supplements. After a few days he told me he wanted to get in shape, he asked me what I was taking and why, so I explained everything to him. After telling him what I was taking and why, he asked could I help get into supplements.
Now, at this point let me paint a picture, my friend is about 20kg overweight and at a guess would have a body fat percentage of about 25%. I had watched him for the last few days eat crap like coco pops for breakfast, McDonald’s for lunch and an array of deep fried junk for dinner, to top it all off he would wash this rubbish down with about 4 cans of Coke a day.
I had to be honest with my mate, so I told him the truth. He needed to sort out his nutrition before he even began to think about supplements. I explained that I ate clean for about 12 months before I even considered taking any supplements. During this 12 months my body went through a massive transformation, without the assistance of any magic pills or powders. It was after this 12 months that I started to look for a little bit more of an edge, that is when supplements came into the equation for me.
My friend is like many people that I talk to that are of the belief that by taking supplements there bodies will transform into the that of a fitness model or bodybuilder. It is after talking to these people that I realise that supplements are not the right option for them. These people are looking for a quick fix, they are probably the same people that get fooled into thinking that if you buy the latest ab machine that’s being advertised on tv, you will end up with a six pack. WRONG!!!!
Supplements are supposed to SUPPLEMENT a well balanced diet and training regime, not replace it. You can take all the supplements in the world, but if you eat like a bag of shit, you will look like a bag of shit. Not surprisingly after my friend realised that supplements were not the answer to his weight issue, he decided not to take them, he also decided to keep eating like crap. About a year after our trip away, he is still overweight and still telling me about how he is going to get in shape. I have encouraged him to train with me on several occasion, but he always has an eXcuse as to why he can’t make (that’s a story for some other time).
The Truth About Supplements:
The supplement industry is a multi-billion dollar machine that targets people in modern society want to have everything yesterday. They spend thousands of dollars on marketing preying on peoples emotions and insecurities. These companies fill muscle and fitness magazines with glossy colourful ads selling the next big thing.
Here are some alarm bells for you. If any of the below rings true while you are reading or watching an ad beware:
- If a product sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
- If it says that you don’t have to train or eat well for the product to work, they are lying.
- If it claims to be a steroid replacements, just as good as steroids, or better than steroids then it’s crap. Steroids are steroids, no nutritional supplement can even go close to replicating the effects of steroids.
- If a professional body builder says that they are getting massive and cut using the product they are not telling you the whole truth. For all I know they might be taking it but what they are not telling you is they are stacking it with steroids and numerous other illegal substances.
Do you ever wonder why so many of the muscle and fitness magazines are full of ads advertising supplements? It’s because the magazone is affiliated with the supplement company, have a look below:
Supplement Company: EAS Magazine: Muscle Media
Supplement Company: Muscle- Linc Magazine: IronMan
Supplement Company: Weider Magazine: Flex, Muscle & Fitness
Supplement Company : Muscle Tech Magazine: Musclemag International
Supplement Company : Twinlab Magazine: Muscular Development
The Scientifically Proven Supplements that I use
Taking into consideration all of the above, there are a few specific supplements worth trying, and that I in fact use. They are:
- Multi Vitamins
- Omega-3 Fish Oil
- Protein Powder
- Creatine Monohydrate
When using supplements you must follow the directions provided. The directions (usually) are based on studies conducted. It is not a matter of doubling the amount to get double the amount of muscle. Further you must take them consistently, you can’t miss days or cut down on dosages to make them last longer. Supplements need to be taken on training days as well as rest days. It is probably more vital to take your supplements on your rest days, as that is when you body is recovering from your training and need proper nutrition to repair and grow muscle.
I feel that if you diet and training is right, there is a place for supplements in everyone’s routine. The correct supplements can assist you in your busy lifestyle by providing the body with the required nutrients, that we normally get from whole foods, but just don’t have the time to prepare and eat. I feel in my training that supplements give me a bit of an edge in keeping my body fat down and assist me with building muscle.
Don’t be fooled by the next miracle supplement!
But a word of warning, there are literally thousands of supplements on the market, there are actually more that don’t work than actually do. The above supplements have assisted me greatly, but I obtain them in their basic form, that way I can measure the exact quantity of each supplement that I am taking. The reason that I do this is two fold, firstly it is a heap cheaper to buy supplements this way and secondly I know what I am getting.
There are numerous all in one supplements on the market today, all with their glossy packaging, claiming to contain to contain the latest and greatest ingredients. The truth is they do contain most of the supplements that I have mentioned, however they are is such trace amounts it’s not worth your trouble. Most of them are in such small amounts, that they won’t even tell you the quantities of the different ingredients. They just call it a ‘Proprietary Blend’. I hate proprietary blends, the companies claim it’s so they can protect their formulas from being copied, what a load of crap, it’s to hide the fact that they are putting minute amounts of the ingredients that actually work. The rest of the product is usually filler that has no nutritional benefit to you. The ironic part is that they charge you through the nose for privilege of taking their product.
Soon I will be doing a sections on home made supplements. I will show you how to make a better pre or post workout supplement for a fraction of the cost of the bigger brands.
Also, don’t take too many supplements, some will actually compete for absorption against each other. Further if you are taking too many supplements, you won’t know which one is working for you. Stick with well-known brands that have been around for a while. Remember supplements are not magic, they are beneficial if you use them often, not once a week. They will produce results if taken consistently over time.