The question I receive several times a year is What supplements should I take?
I’ll refrain from talking about brand names and such as I think we all have our opinions on those and many times price is a factor. Let’s just stick to the overall basics.
So let’s begin…
- Essential Fatty Acid complex
The multi-vitamin will act as an insurance policy. Variety in your diet is great and you should strive for it, but not all of us get everything we need for optimal performance. And with the debates on food quality, it’s just a reasonable idea to take a multi- vitamin. There’s at least 24 Good Reasons to Take a Multi-Vitamin.
Disclaimer: If you don’t take a vitamin, I think you’ll be just fine.
An EFA complex gives you so many benefits to fat burning and muscle building by increasing your metabolism and the heart healthy benefits, it’s just a must. Eating plenty of fish will help ensure you are getting your Omega acids but again, insurance policy and a decent foundational supplement. There’s a reduction of inflammation benefits to the Omega-3s and some cognitive potential.
And that’s it!
Performance/Muscle Building Supplements:
- Whey protein
Why isn’t protein a foundational? Because I believe that if you wanted to, you could get all your protein needs from whole foods. It’s not a foundational to take a shake even after a workout. And while you can argue that the body will absorb it better and such, it still doesn’t make it a must even as an insurance policy.
But it sure as heck does help. I think most bodybuilders will take some form of whey shake at some point during the day. My recommendation is in the morning upon waking up and after a workout.
Good old creatine. It’s proven in over 300 peer reviewed published articles on its improvements to the bodybuilding athlete. Get the facts on creatine.
- Other proteins
An up-coming major player in coo hoots with creatine is beta- alanine. From my own research and experimentation, it’s a fine supplement and not a bank breaker. I do stack this with my BCAA supplement that has creatine in it. One to watch at the least.
Glutamine is something that gets a lot of attention but rarely do we find studies that show it’s clear link to bodybuilding. Needless to say…
You can try it out if you want.
Casein is just a slower digesting protein. Many people are firm believers in mixing proteins especially at night when you want a slower digesting protein. Some products have protein combinations in them already. Dairy proteins like cottage cheese have casein in them and make a very good nighttime snack.
Other proteins like egg white protein or vegetarian proteins might be something optional if you find it necessary or beneficial. Recently Soy Protein caught an upgrade.
Branch Chain Aminos are great. Especially in a pre-workout formula. At the moment, I’ve had great personal success using a BCAA powder with creatine mixed in it. Not something for everybody but if you are looking for that extra edge, BCAA style supplements sure do have a lot of valid research behind them to suggest a performance enhancement.
Caffeine for weight loss or a metabolism boost or maybe you just like your local coffee shop. I don’t experiment with it at all but I do like my coffee. Many people find that caffeine in coffee or green tea make good herbal weight loss products that are safe. Just make sure that you don’t go overboard on caffeine. Too much caffeine can cause health issues.
CLA is an old school healthy fat that get press every now and again. Lately there’s not much promise in terms of human weight reduction but again, something to consider. Don’t expert miracles. I tried it once. Interesting. Not a supplement that you’ll find in my closet though.
Remember, there are hundreds of supplements out there and the list is growing daily. These few are really all you’ll need in addition to your 5-6 meals a day.
If you were to stick just with the foundational supplements, you would still make fantastic progress and spend under $30 a month on supplements.
Marc David – CPT
“The NoBull Muscle Guy”
Author of NoBull Bodybuilding
PS – If you haven’t already, read short Guide on How to Evaluate Any Supplement.
PPS – If you want to know What Supplements I Take, I practice transparency.