We’ve all been asked at one point or another if we are avid gym goers. “What supplements do you take?” Maybe from a friend or a complete stranger that just happened to notice how often you went into the gym and how you managed to kill it every morning at 5am. I remember when I first started supplementing my workouts. I was about 18 or 19 years old in the dessert of Iraq. The ability to get packages shipped to you was just available to us and we were already working out. The first and only thing we bought was a Nitro Tech. Now there were a few things that we absolutely didn’t think of back then. We just saw really jacked dudes drinking the stuff and thought that if we drank it, we would get jacked too! Funny enough that is how they used to market it. Man did it taste bad though!
The word supplement in the dictionary means: “something that completes or enhances something else when added to it.” We commonly think of supplementation as just buying supplements and using them before or after or workouts. We read the instructions on how to take them and then like medicine given to us by a physician we just kind of take them. So now I ask the question. Do you even know what you are putting in your body? The supplement industry is a billion dollar industry and continues to grow as everything is new and improved. There are a ton of products that are made to “enhance” your physique and performance. Well aren’t supplements supposed to enhance my performance? Good question, the answer is it depends. I’m sure you’ve heard that before. Well here is some news for you.
What supplements are supposed to do
Supplements are supposed to SUPPLEMENT! A good diet/eating habits. They should be in conjunction with a good eating/training plan. If you don’t have those things in place then you might as well not even take supplements. Think of when you put substance into your body. When you do so, there are chemical reactions that your body will either react negatively or positively. Supplements will only work if there are “positive” reactions taking place within the target cells. So having things like adequate nutrition is going to help tremendously if supplementation is a huge deal for you. So I’d say first step is to clean up your food.
Now let’s not make a job out of this. I don’t mean go on a Keto diet, or do a 30 day Paleo challenge. I simply mean, eat enough food to maintain your goals and then stay consistent. If your someone that has a hard time then maybe you need a specific meal plan so you can start to develop the habit from good examples and then go at it on your own. When you can eat and have the intuition to know when you are fueled properly then just maintaining that with quarterly or bi-annual check ins may really be all you need.
What about the labels on the package? Do you really read them? Or is it more like, well scientist make the stuff so I don’t know what this is. I’m sure I’ll be alright. For younger athletes and especially higher level (college & professional) athletes there are quite a few substances that are banned in most sports. If the chemical name is on the label or there is a proprietary blend on the label, maybe do a little more research about what your taking in. If that’s not a concern for you and you are more of the type that says; “I’m not an athlete I just want to squat 1000lbs and will do whatever it takes to get there.” That’s cool too. My question to you is you squatted 1000lbs, now what? You going to keep going up? Until when? Your hips snap in half? What if you squatted 8 or 900lbs naturally and were able to do 80-90% of that number well past your 50s with not health problems? Now to each their own. The point is while we are willing to take whatever shortcut necessary to get the results we want. We commonly are not willing to just suck it up over the long run and get their safely and be much stronger for it. With the experience to boot!
Then what should you take?
First, You should take a good look at your eating habits. This has been said before and that’s because I’m pretty serious about it. Look over your food, what you eat and how much you eat. Don’t worry so much about adding to as much as taking out. For example, When I started to clean up my eating habits, the first thing to go was granulated sugar. Yep, all that sugar you put in your coffee, is basically taking away from how awesome coffee taste.
Next, stop taking pre-workouts! I am not endorsed by ANYONE! I’m not that special. I do know what it means to have a mental edge for what you are trying to do. There is no telling what is in that stuff half the time. If your diet is good you don’t need it in my opinion. If you are an early riser, some green tea, or a cup of black coffee 20-30min before the workout should do just fine for you. Then, buck up! Go get your work done and attack it like your trying to achieve something on the back end. Even if that is just overall general health.
Then, some of the simple things will do you just fine to start and past that you shouldn’t need much else. Here are a few things to consider:
- Protein Powder: We are all busy and having the time to always make all the meals with all the calories you require can be tough. Protein adds quick extra calories in when you are on the run. I recommend at least 20g of Protein and 40g of Carbs immediately following but no longer than 90 minutes after a workout.
- Creatine: This helps to keep it as simple as I can Hydrate the muscle fibers to help stimulate growth and recovery. There is no need for the average person to have any more than 5mg a day either right before or just after their workout. I will sometimes drink it during but have found no real benefit to this. There should be a cycle to this of about 8 weeks on and 4 weeks off. Make sure you are reading the label on these. Not all are made equal
- Fish Oil and Multivitamin: This in my opinion is where the magic happens. The vitamins and minerals from these two supplements are gained where your eating may miss out. It’s hard to cover everything, no matter how much you try. They will help with cell function muscle growth and recovery.
- Water: Drink plenty o f water. This is the medium in which all cellular reaction take place. If you are not hydrated you are already working backwards. Make sure you are taking in plenty of fluid period! At least a gallon/day.
Well, that’s it. Hope you enjoyed this little bit of information. As always thanks for reading and if there is anything you want me to talk about or learn about, I’m all ears! Just comment below.