I recommend everyone take the following health supplements. Our bodies require certain vitamins and minerals in order to function properly and studies have shown that modern fruits and veggies fail to provide our daily required intake of supplements like magnesium and zinc because the soil in which crops are being raised is devoid of these essential nutrients.
It is vital that you take a good multi-vitamin. You’re wasting your money if you buy cheap vitamins(Wal-Mart brand for example) because cheap vitamins have low bioavailability. Low bioavailability means that essentially everything you’re taking in is being flushed out through your kidneys and digestive system and you’re not actually absorbing anything.
Adults should follow the recommended guidelines on the bottle. Athletes and bodybuilders should consider taking 1.5x or 2x the dose.
The two best Multi-Vitamins that have high bioavailability and are reasonably priced are:
Vitamin D is produced by your skin when it comes in contact with sunlight. Since most of us live a sedentary indoor lifestyle we do not get nearly enough direct sunlight, which in turn causes most people to be chronically deficient in Vitamin D. Symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency include:
- Muscle weakness
Take 10,000 ius of Vitamin D3 a day for 30 days and then maintain with 5,000 ius per day after wards. Experts recommend everyone supplement with Vitamin D, even those living in warm/tropical climates.
Entire books have been written about the beneficial health effects of supplementing with magnesium. Magnesium is used in over 300 different biochemical processes within the body. Magnesium deficiency is a two-fold problem. We don’t get enough of it from our diet and many of the foods we eat actually strip mangesium from our body – like sugar, alcohol, caffeine, and salt. Magnesium deficiency can contribute to:
- Muscle cramps or twitches
- Anal spasms
- Chronic fatigue
- Kidney stones
- High blood pressure
- Menstrual cramps
- Irritable bladder
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Trouble swallowing
You want to supplement with chelated magnesium(chelated magnesium is absorbed better by the body). Take 400-800mg in the evening before you go to bed. My research shows that Doctor’s Best brand is the cheapest form of effective Chelated magnesium.
Fish oil is high in omega-3 fatty acids. You’re probably sick of hearing that you should supplement with Omega-3 fatty acids. The reason why they come so highly recommended is because omega-3’s are anti-inflammatory. Doctors and experts are coming to the conclusion that inflammation is at the heart of almost every single chronic disease, and the simple supplementation of Omega-3’s can help reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and stroke.
In addition to general health fish oil also promotes brain health and has been shown to increase memory and brain function in adults.
Take 3-12g of fish oil per day. Ideally you’d want to take 3g morning, afternoon, evening, and post workout, but that can get expensive. 1g three times a day will still benefit your health.
Piracetam and Choline
Piracetam is a class of nootropics(supplement which improves brain performance) called racetams. The exact mechanism of action of racetams is not currently understood, but they are thought to:
- Increa ATP synthesis
- Increa acetylcholine utilization
- Increa membrane fluidity
- Increa microcirculation
- Modulate AMPA receptors
Anecdotally people taking racetams report having more mental clarity and alertness. The most popular and common racetam supplement is Piracetam. It is very economical(a 500 day supply costs less than $40). Piracetam is best taken with choline because racetams are thought to improve acetylcholine utilization in the brain. Acetylcholine is a vital neurotransmitter and decreased levels of acetylcholine have been linked to Alzheimers disease.
People taking a combination of piracetam and choline report better mental and cognitive performance increases than taking either supplements individually. Personally I find that 400mg of piracetam with 250mg of choline gives me a similar level of mental clarity and energy as caffeine without all of the negative side effects of withdrawal, jitters, or racing thoughts.
Piracetam and choline are hands down my two favorite supplements because they provide me with clear mental energy without any noticeable withdrawal or tolerance symptoms. Thus they can be taken safely everyday without diminished results unlike caffeine.
Dosage: 400mg piracetam with 250mg CDP choline in the morning and afternoon. Should not be taken within 6 hours of bed.
Caffeine and L-Theanine
I’ve had a love/hate relationship with caffeine for all of my life. On the one hand I love the energy, focus, and mental clarity it gives me. On the other hand I hate being dependent upon caffeine and hate the withdrawal symptoms when you go even 24 hours without caffeine. Consistent use of high doses of caffeine has been linked to chronic fatigue syndrome. One of the main symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome is feeling tired and not rested even when you get 10+ hours of sleep.
I discovered two nootropics this year that have allowed me to consume caffeine on a daily basis and avoid all of the negative side effects of withdrawl, tolerance buildup, and racing thoughts. These nootropics are L-Theaning and Phenibut.
L-theanine increases a host of neurotransmitters including serotonin, dopamine and GABA levels and has affinities for AMPA, kainate and NMDA receptors. It also antagonistic effects on group 1 metabotrophic glutamate receptors. – Source
It’s hard to find good science on the exact mechanisms of action with L-Theanine and Phenibut, but it is thought that they work along the same pathways as beta blockers, namely causing a feeling of calmness and reducing overactive brain activity. Thus they help you experience the positive benefits of caffeine while dampening the negative side-effects.
Dosage: Take L-Theane at a ratio of .5 to 1. So 100mg of caffeine would be paired with 50mg of L-Theanine. I get about 100mg of caffeine in the morning and afternoon with black tea and take 50mg of L-Theanine at the same time.
Phenibut is a much more powerful nootropic and should be taken at most twice a week. Tolerance buildup is pronounced and fast with phenibut. People use it for a number of recreational uses – to induce alcohol like euphoric states. I think this is a waste of phenibut’s potential. I take 600mg of phenibut Sunday and Wednesday nights. Phenibut will give you the deepest and most restful sleep you’ve ever had an I have found that it “resets” my caffeine tolerance. Again the scientific studies are really sparse on the subject, but anecdotally phenibut seems to exhibit a very calming effect on the body and thus helps it recuperate from stimulants like caffeine.
Phenibut takes 2-3 hours to kick in. I take 300mg three hours before bed, and then another dose of 300mg as I am going to bed. It is very very important that you find your own levels of tolerance for phenibut, as higher doses can cause extreme hangover effects(I took 2g my first time using phenibut and had a hangover worse than any I’ve had from alcohol). And again I really warn against taking phenibut more than twice a week. Do not exceed more than 1.5g per week. And it is adviseable to take 1-2 weeks completely off of phenibut every 4-6 weeks.
It is very important that you absolutely do not mix phenibut with alcohol.
5-HTP and L-Tryptophan
5-HTP and L-Tryptophan are both precursors to the neurotransmitter serotonin. Serotonin is the neurotransmitter responsible for our feelings of well-being and happiness. Supplementing with 5-HTP and L-Tryptophan at night helps improve your quality of sleep as well as facilitating optimal levels of serotonin production.
Since supplementing with 5-HTP and L-Tryptophan I’ve noticed that I wake up feeling more refreshed and with more energy. If you can find the time it is also advisable to supplement with 5-HTP in the afternoon along with a 30 to 90 minute nap. This will help replenish your neurotransmitters and allow you to be more focused and productive through the rest of your day.
Dosage: 100-500mg 5-HTP and 1-3g L-Tryptophan at night before bed.
The best quote I’ve ever heard on performance supplements is, “If it works, it’s probably banned, and if it’s not banned, it probably doesn’t work.”
This is very true. I think most of the sports supplement industry is one gigantic scam. Very few supplement truly achieve their claims. But with that said there are still a few supplements that are extremely effective and can be safely used.
Protein is protein. Don’t get hung up on “fast absorption” or “amino acid profiles”. Whey is whey. The main difference between more expensive proteins is their flavor and mixability. The biggest benefit of protein in my opinion is allowing you to get in 150-200g of protein a day with ease. Trying to get 200g+ of protein from animal sources can get really expensive and be difficult to achieve.
Dosage: 25-50g post workout.
My favorite proteins:
Wal-Mart, Sams Club, and Costco protein will work as well. They just taste worse and mix worse than the two listed above.
You’ve probably heard a lot of buzz about different pre-workouts like Jack3d, White Flood, Animal Pump, etc. In my opinion all of these are overpriced and not only are they overpriced I think they can be dangerous and have a lot of negative side effects. The whole mechanism of action with pre-workouts is that they contain a boatload of stimulants. That’s it. You can get the same effect of something like Jack3d just by taking a bunch of caffeine tabs.
And because they are so loaded with stimulants these pre-workouts can do more damage to your goals than good. Sure you will get a really good workout, but they are disrupting your sleep and now you’re not recovering as well. They lead to tolerance and dependence as well so that you’ll start to need a pre-workout to even leave the house.
All of this leads me to recommend that you absolutely stay away from all pre-workout supplements.
The best pre-workout in my opinion: one banana with 3 tablespoons of almond butter two hours before your workout and two caps of green tea extract(50mg caffeine) 30 mins before your workout.
Creatine mono-hydrate is what you need. Supplement companies have tried to capitalize on the effectiveness of creatine by branding all sorts of different creatine supplements. An example would be kre-alk. Don’t waste your money on these. They’re just attempts to charge you 10 times more for the same supplement.
Creatine is the most effective supplement for adding pure strength and muscle size. Creatine works by expanding your muscle volume by pulling in water and also increases your ability to produce and replenish ATP, which directly improves your anaerobic performance in the gym. You can expect to gain 4-6% weight in your first 30 days of creatine because it is pulling in more water to your muscles and you can expect an 7-10% increase in strength in that first month from the same effect.
Creatine increases your body’s requirement of water so it is absolutely vital that you increase your water intake by 15% or more when taking creatine.
Dosage: Take 10g creatine monohydrate for your first 30 days and then 5g a day afterwards. You do not need to cycle creatine. Timing doesn’t matter as much after your first 30 days, but it is best to take creatine post workout along with carbohydrates. Studies have shown that the insulin response created by taking carbohydrates post workout can help shuttle more creatine into muscle tissues.
Do not drink these! Weight gainers are just loaded with sugar. That’s it. The top ingredient of every weight gainer is maltodextrin. While technically a complex carbohydrate, Maltodextrin has a glycemic index rating of 105! To compare, table sugar has a GI of 64 and honey has a GI of 58. Drinking weight-gainers is worse than drinking a big jar of table sugar.
Do not drink weight-gainers. They should be renamed “fat gainers” or “diabetes gainers.”