Most supplements suck!
But there are a few that I recommend that almost everyone (who trains) should take.
In fact, some supplements are downright awesome; you just need to cut through the crap and the marketing hype to find the stuff that’s truly backed by science and research.
How does one know what’s great and what’s garbage?
Check out this blog to find out what supplements ARE worth your time and money:
Creatine Monohydrate is one of the most researched supplements available to buy and also one of the cheapest.
Due to the many studies on the benefits and safety of this form of Creatine it is one of the few, which I recommend to my clients.
Creatine has been shown to improve strength and power in those who take it.
It has some evidence to suggest it causes a noted increase in muscle too but due to the potential water retention from using this supplement it is hard to assess lean mass gains.
Creatine can be found in some foods such as red meat but for the best benefits and to make sure that your muscles are fully saturated it is suggested to consume 3-5g of creatine per day at a time when you are most likely not going to forget to consume it.
There are a few other (and usually more expensive) types of creatine available such as creatine ‘ethyl ester’ but no form of it has been shown to be as powerful or as potent as Creatine Monohydrate
Caffeine can be used as a stimulant in order to acutely improve physical strength and endurance; it also has fat burning benefits.
On initial consumption certain people will find the effects of caffeine greater than others, even when the same dose has been taken.
You can also become some-what tolerant to caffeine and when tolerance is increased the overall benefit of supplementing with caffeine can be dulled, even for the ‘hypersensitive’.
Based on individual tolerances the suggested dose can differ from person-person and it is a good idea to taper the stimulant in order to gauge individual needs.
100-200mg of caffeine (1 shot espresso) has been shown to illicit fat burning effects while 500mg and above are needed if the user wishes to see acute strength increases, researchers suggest a dosage range of 4-6mg/kg of the persons bodyweight is a amount to go by.
Many of caffeine’s effects, including fat burning, strength benefits, and euphoria, are subject to tolerance, and may not occur in people used to caffeine, no matter how large the dose is.”
…Just don’t take it close to bedtime!
I don’t usually class protein powder as a supplement
I look at it as more of a food (which it technically is) but seeing as most people do see it in this category then I feel it should be included.
Protein (both dietary and in shake form) is used by the body for the growth and repair of cells. Without sufficient protein in the diet muscle cannot be built and muscle wastage can also occur.
I recommend clients to take protein powder for the following reasons:
– It’s convenient to take, especially in the morning or pre/post workout
– It’s great for those who struggle to hit daily protein targets through meat, eggs and dairy
– 20-40g of whey protein (depending on the brand) will give you enough enough leucine to maximise muscle protein synthesis, other protein sources may require a larger serving in order for this to be achieved
– It’s fairly cheap to purchase when compared to other protein sources
Fish oil should be taken as a way of ensuring the body takes in enough Omega 3 fats.
Supplementing Omega 3 is a cheap and effective way of consuming the nutrients but if oily fish is consumed regularly (3+ x per week) then supplementation isn’t needed.
Fish oil is made up of 2 types of omega-3 fatty acids known as EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid).
To ensure enough EPA/DHA is consumed through supplementation: “A fairly standard dose of fish oil in the studies is the equivalent of 6X1 gram capsules per day. The average capsule has 180 mg epa and 120 dha so 6 capsules will provide 1020 mg epa and 720mg dha for a total of 1.8 grams of total fish oil. I would consider this basically the minimum daily amount that would be beneficial on any level”
The benefits of supplementing with Fish oil include:
– Lowered blood pressure
– Increased efficiency of smooth muscle function- Decreased inflammation
– Alleviation of dyslipidema (an abnormal amount of lipids e.g. cholesterol and/or fat in the blood
– Increased mood
– Possible benefits of bone health
Omega 6 is much more regularly consumed in the average pop’s diet through sources such as red meat and eggs. These foods are high in omega-6 fatty acids, which is why fish oil is recommended (to balance the ratio of omega 3-6)
A ratio of roughly 1:1 omega 3- omega 6 is associated with healthier blood vessels, a lower lipid count and a reduced risk for plaque buildup.
For maximum benefits 1.8-3g of combined EPA/DHA per day is idea (about 6-10 servings day depending on strength per capsule)
This particular vitamin is one of the 24 micronutrients which is known to be critical for human survival.
Although the sun provides us with the highest amount of Vitamin D we can also get some of the nutrient via fish and eggs.
In order to get the maximum dosage of the vitamin year round from UV sunlight alone you would need to live very close to the equator. Near the equator what’s known as the ‘UV Index’ is at a high enough level (level 3 and above) which ensures those close to it are receiving the optimal amount of vitamin D.
If deficient in the vitamin (or receiving sub-optimal levels based on your geographical position) when choosing to Supplement with VitD you can expect the following benefits;
– Increased cognitive function
– Better immune function
– Improved bone health
– Improved mood and well being
– Increased testosterone levels
– Reduced risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and MS
It is best to supplement Vitamin D with meals for enhanced absorption and a typically daily dose in order to see full benefits is around 2000 – 5000IU’s per day
Zinc and Magnesium
(not to be confused with ZMA)
Like Vitamin D; Zinc and Magnesium are 2 of the 24 ‘essential vitamins and minerals’ which crucially need to be obtained though either supplementation and/or diet.
ZMA (zinc, magnesium and vitamin B6) contains both magnesium and zinc and is a common supplement attainable from most health food companies and stores.
However the dosage of Zinc and Magnesium found in ZMA products are often not high enough in order to see benefits.
Another reason why consuming ZMA wouldn’t be ideal is the fact that Zinc and magnesium are both absorbed by the body in the same way via the same mechanisms; Therefore if both minerals are taken together at the same time they then compete with each other for absorption and due to this they struggle to be utilised with much going to waste.
So for the full benefit or the minerals look to supplement Magnesium and Zinc at separate times of the day.
Zinc has many benefits such as:
– Being a potent antioxidant
– Raises testosterone levels (if the user is deficient in Zinc)
– Boosts the immune system
– Regulates hormones
Zinc is regularly lost through sweat and is especially useful to supplement with if you are prone to sweating, commonly exercise in heat or train in hot climates.
As far as dosage is concerned it is recommended to take between 5-45mg of Zinc per day. The lower range is a good idea for most to take in order to cover nutrient bases and the higher dosage should be taken by anyone at risk of deficiency.
Magnesium deficiencies are fairly common in most people; when deficient in the mineral it can lead to increased blood pressure, reduced glucose tolerance and can cause high levels of stress – this is why it is important to ensure that magnesium levels are constantly at a good range.
As far as attaining the mineral from nutrition alone some of the foods which are high in Magnesium are:
Dark leafy greens
Fish (not to be confused with mercury)
A standard daily dose for supplementation is between 200-400mg per day (taken with food) yet for some reason the RDA is more than this number. If you are consuming an abundance of the above foods then you should look to supplement with the lower 200mg dose of the mineral.
Supplements should be one of the final factors to consider when it comes to your health, fitness and nutrition.
Supplements are a very small percentage of what makes up a successful and healthy diet and that the differences supplements can make are extremely small.
So what IS more important than supplements?
– Having a periodised and goal orientated training plan
– Eating sufficient calories for your goal (this differs between fat loss and muscle building cycles)
– Eating the right amount of protein, carbs, fibre and fat for your goals (this again differs between fat loss and muscle building cycles)
– Eating lots of veg and some fruit daily in order consume plenty of vitamins and minerals through food.
Before you even think about using supplements it’s extremely important to make sure you have everything above in place otherwise you can make the ‘supplements that are worth your time’ equally as useless as the ones ‘not worth your time’..
Individulised Nutrition Programming
Workout of the Day:
A) Weightlifting & Gymnastics
Every 3 minutes, for 18 minutes (6 sets) of:
Clean x 1+1+1 (Drop and re-set every rep, resting up to 10 seconds between lifts)
One set of strict handstand push-ups for max reps (or L-seated dumbell strict press)
16 rounds of 20 seconds on : 10 seconds off, alternate movements each round:
Hang power clean
Shoulder to overhead
*Barbell at 60/40kg
*The aim is to keep moving for each 20 second interval, so modify weight accordingly
Extra Credit – Lat Development
Sled pull, arms only
3-5 x 30m
*Rest 2-3 minutes between sets
*Aim for speed (fast hands) over load
Rope Pulls are one of the best drills to improve pulling strength and grip strength. Keeping a braced mid line and minimizing side to side movement when pulling is crucial. Julien Pineau (@strongfit1) explains how to optimize the rope pull. Check out the Invictus Strongman program for more tips and movements. #InvictusAthlete #Strongman
Workout of the Day:
For Time : 10-1
DB Man Makers 16/10kg
*1 “rep” row is 100m