Thursday, March 15, 2012
Here is a question I get quite a bit, "What supplements do you use?" OR "What supplements would you recommend?" Both are great questions with a not so easy or direct answer. The world of supplements is HUGE! Here is what I have found works for me... in no particular order (after the 1st two).
#1) Shakeology - Without hesitation, this is the most important thing I supplement my nutrition with. It is complete nutrition and allows me to make sure that I cover all of my vitamin, mineral, and nutrient needs. I worked out a long time, over a year, without it and I have noticed a huge difference in my digestion and in my energy levels. I will have my blood-work done at my yearly physical and I am very excited to see what Shakeology has done to my levels. It has also really helped my digestive track. Click here for more on Shakeology.
#2) Whey Protein - I have used many different brands. Whey is so important. It allows me to reach my daily protein goals without consuming 3 lbs of chicken a day. It plays a large role in my post workout routine, being digested so quickly. It is convenient too. Need an extra 20 grams of protein... one scoop of whey! Throw it in a shaker cup and go. There are many different levels of whey, so you do get what you pay for in most cases. Whey isolates will have a larger percentage of protein per serving than whey concentrates (just read the label). Proteins I have enjoyed are O.N. 100% Whey Gold Standard, Gaspari's MyoFusion, and Isopure. You can get any flavor in the world practically. Just read the label and make sure there is not a lot of sugar or fats.
Pre-Workouts - I really believe that a good pre-workout can be some of the best bang for your buck. Most pre-workouts are a combination of some stimulants for energy (normally caffeine), Nitric Oxide producing compounds, and compounds for focus. Pre-workouts help make sure you are ready to get the most out of your time when you work out. There is no going through the motions when you find the right pre-workout. I have tried many different pre-workouts: BSN NO Xplode, Gaspari's SuperPump250 and SPMax, AAEFX K-Otik, Cellocur's C4, BPI Sport's 1MR, MuscleFeast's Anabolic Ignite, and the list goes on... All were good or better. But before I tell you my top picks, but first a word on what may differ for you.
Stimulants and Caffeine: Are you sensitive? Some of the full servings of these PWOs have ~300mg of caffeine. That is roughly 2 energy drinks taken in an instant. I am not that sensitive to caffeine, so I really enjoy that level of caffeine. You may not, and there are options for you. With any, you can dial back the dose. And there is some room for trial and error with stimulants. How certain stimulants make you feel (1,3 Dimeth, Schizandrol A, etc.) will allow you to narrow down what works for you. Some feel a big crash after certain PWOs, other people feel too jittery.
My favorites are 1.M.R and Anabolic Ignite. Both have rather large doses of niacin and beta alanine for great pumps. Both have creatine as well (more below). 1.M.R includes stimulants (300mg of caffeine and 1,3 Dymeth). Those give you a huge kick in the pants and great focus. AI is stimulant free and thus can be taken at any time of the day. I have added caffeine to my AI and really enjoy it. They allow my to maximize my efforts while working out and help me push harder each and every workout.
On deck next is Beachbody's E&E. It seems to have a lot going for it. No artificial sweeteners, flavors, or preservatives. No banned substances. My friends that have tried it all have commented how it doesn't give you that jittery, strung out feeling like some of the other PWOs. Just clean steady energy, with no crash. I am really excited to give it a try. Getting up at 4:00 to push as hard as you can can be difficult. PWOs help overcome that initial hurdle.
Creatine - No weight lifting, muscle building supplement has been studied more. No supplement has been shown to be more effective or safer. Creatine is an amino acid and aids your body in building and repairing muscles. Stick with Creatine Monohydrate. It has been studied the most and straight up works. 5g a day is a good dose for most men (160-180lb). Add it to your post workout shake. It should be cycled 2 months on, 1 month off. Creatine pulls water to your muscles' cells. Make sure to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. This is also a very affordable supplement if you avoid all the hype and just stick with monohydrate. I have bought into some of the "new" types of creatine... I have switched back and am glad I did.
Dextrose is a sugar, simple carb, derived from corn. It is about half as sweet as sugar but it great for spike blood sugar levels post workout. This helps promote greater protein synthesis and replenishes glycogen stores. Again, I am using this much like Beachbody's Results and Recovery drink. 40g Dextrose and 10g whey.
Supplements are only part of the equation. Don't expect miracle pills. If it was as easy as that, everyone would be super fit and ripped. Eat properly, supplement, and train hard. When you combine all three, the sky is the limit! Keep bringing it!