SUPPLEMENT MASTER LIST
Is it worth it or is it not?
Hey Team! In this article, I am going to be giving brief summaries on various supplements that are currently out in the marketplace to let you know if they are worth your money or not. Keep in mind, this is not an exhaustive list by any means and I will continue to update this blog post as we go along. If you have a supplement that you would like me to review, please let me know and I can find the research and give you my opinion. In this post, you will see a brief, 1-2 sentence summary of the supplement in question. If you want to dive even deeper into each, you can click on the heading and it will direct you to a page that is devoted specifically to the product in question.
Supplements cause quite a confusion, especially for those who are either beginners or have not been around the game for some time. Honestly, it’s to be expected – the marketing these companies do have done a tremendous job getting you to believe you need to take something that you really do not. Estimates from the Council of Responsible Nutrition have placed the total impact of the supplement industry at nearly $122 billion dollars.
That’s pretty insane if you ask me! But, again, going back to marketing, they do a PHENOMENAL job at selling you their product. We see a lean guy with large muscles holding a container full of BCAA’s and think well, that must be the secret! Or we see a slim, toned, female promoting a detox tea and think, yup! That must be it!
However, it’s complete BULLSHIT. The majority of supplements that are on the market today are worthless or they simply will not give you a good return on your investment. Supplements are meant to supplement your health and fitness lifestyle and without the basics in place, supplements are going to be nothing but a waste of money for you.
Taking some fat burners are not going to magically melt away the fat you gained from eating an entire large pizza the other night and taking a pre-workout is not going to magically build enormous muscles.
My goal with this article is to give you an education in three major areas:
1) Let you know what is most important to seeing the change that you want
2) Let you know what supplements might be worth your money
3) Let you know what supplements are not worth your money
LEVELS OF IMPORTANCE
Before we get into each individual supplement that I will be listing here, we need to talk about the variables that go into making the change you want to see, regardless if that is weight loss or muscle gain. A few general concepts apply that must be taken into account long before you should be worrying about supplements.
Here is an image that I put together that is based on Eric Helms Nutrition Pyramid.
As you can see from the image, SUPPLEMENTS, are not only the LAST thing that you need to worry about but they are also going to make the LEAST amount of difference in the changes that you make. A good start would be to save your money on the supplements (outside of a few basics) and focus on the bottom levels of this pyramid FIRST.
ADHERENCE – Adherence and your consistency to the plan is by far the most important variable you need to take into consideration. The longer that you can stick to the plan and make health and fitness a part of your life, the better the results you are going to be.
CALORIE INTAKE – Calorie intake controls whether or not you gain or lose weight.
Eat more calories than your body needs, you will gain weight.
Eat fewer calories that your body needs, you will lose weight.
Pretty simple stuff.
I will dive deeper into each level of the pyramid in a later post but I just wanted to make touch on the MOST IMPORTANT aspects of weight gain/weight loss and that is Adherence and Calorie Intake.
So, knowing what we know about supplements now – that they are the LAST piece of the puzzle and make the LEAST amount of difference, we can move forward and dive into what supplements might be worth your money and what supplements are not.
BCAA’s (Branched Chain Amino Acids)
TL;DR – As long as your protein intake for the day is adequate (.8-1.2g / pound of LBM), you do not need BCAA’s as part of your supplementation.
If you plan to use BCAA’s I recommend getting at least 3 grams of leucine in your supplement drink. There will be a ratio on the back of the BCAA product that you buy that can help you determine just how much of a serving size you will need to reach 3 grams.
TL;DR – Caffeine is a great supplement to use all around – no matter if you are trying to lose fat or gain muscle. When used in a dieting phase, it can help increase metabolic rate over the course of the day and it helps suppress appetite. Furthermore, when used as a performance enhancement, it has been shown to increase the time to exhaustion and overall improve performance. If you are looking for a pre-workout that will give you a great return on your investment, look no further. Forget the $40 tub of the pre-workout you just bought and go straight for the cup of coffee. If you are not a coffee drinker, caffeine pills will do the trick.
Recommended dosage: ~3-6mg/kg of body-weight.
TL;DR – Creatine Monohydrate is one of the most effective and well-researched supplements on the market today. It’s been shown to increase LBM, increase strength, increase performance, and increase endurance. It’s cheap and effective and I highly suggest making creatine monohydrate part of your supplementation.
Do not be scammed into buying a different version of creatine. No other versions of creatine have been shown to be more effective than creatine monohydrate.
Recommended dosage: 5 grams per day should satisfy most people’s needs. You do not need to load the creatine nor cycle it. Take it forever and always.
Detox’s and Cleanse
TL;DR – It does not matter what detox or cleanse we are talking about, if it has the word “detox” or “cleanse” in it, RUN, as it is complete bullshit. You do not need to “detox” your body with outside supplements. Your liver and kidney manage that for you. You do not have “toxic sludge” hanging around in your stomach and intestines that is preventing you from losing weight. Save your money. All these supplements do is detox and cleanse your bank account.
TL;DR – While some have been shown to increase metabolic rate slightly and promote fat mobilization, the effects are minimal. You are much better off focusing your time and effort on your diet to lose body fat. Fat burning is done through eating fewer calories than your body needs to maintain it’s current weight. You do not need a pill for that.
And, most fat burners use caffeine as the primary ingredient so you can skip the up-sell and brew yourself a pot of coffee and save a lot of money in the process.
TL;DR – A waste of money. Previously, it was thought that glutamine supplementation could help repair the muscles faster after a workout. However, recently, research has found that glutamine supplementation never reaches the muscle and instead gets stored in the liver and intestines and is distributed by the body on an as-needed basis.
If quicker recovery is what you are after, adequate protein and carbohydrate intake should be prioritized first.
TL;DR – Protein Powder does not do anything magical that another source of protein might not accomplish itself. However, by making protein powder part of your supplementation protocol, you will have a much higher chance at making sure you are getting the amount of protein that you need in order to either retain muscle while trying to lose body fat or build muscle while trying to bulk up. It’s also super convenient and if you get a good deal on the protein supplement, it can also be a cheap investment. I would recommend purchasing a protein supplement of your choice.