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Big Man On Campus: Supplements

Spending a small amount on supplements can yield big results in the long run. Smart students train hard and supplement wisely. Learn how!

Supplements will never replace good nutrition and max-effort training. However, they are important for anyone who wants to get bigger and stronger, faster. Most college students are on a fixed or tight budget, so supplement selection becomes even more critical. I'll help you pick the best supplements for building muscle, without breaking the bank.

Big Man On Campus: Supplementation Overview

Watch The Video - 08:25




Let's face it: Supplements can get expensive. I'm going to give you a variety of supplement options, starting with a foundational stack. These are the supplements I recommend to anyone. In terms of good health and great results, these are the most important: whey protein, a multivitamin, and fish oil. You will get these nutrients from your diet, but not necessarily in the quantities you need to build maximum mass. Supplements can be a more effective and convenient way to ingest these muscle-building essentials.

After you've covered your bases, you can add certain "performance" supplements to your lineup. I prefer tried-and-true sports nutrition supplements like creatine monohydrate, a natural energy booster, and slow-digesting casein protein. I'll cover these products after reviewing the foundational supps.

Whey Protein ///

Protein is essential for tissue growth and repair. More than any other macronutrient, it helps build muscle. I recommend one gram of protein per pound of body weight, each day. Whey protein powder is an easy way to hit this number. Because it digests quickly, whey protein is the perfect post-workout recovery protein. Take a serving of whey after every resistance workout to help kickstart repair, recovery, and growth.

Dosage: Take your whey protein within 15-to-30 minutes after your workouts. You can use whey protein any other time during the day to help hit your daily protein goals. Remember, you want at least one gram of protein per pound.

Multivitamin ///

A good performance multivitamin combines vitamins, minerals, and additional workout-support nutrients. Your body needs more than proteins, carbs and fats. You need micronutrients in vital amounts to cover gaps in your diet. Iron, zinc, vitamin C, vitamin B and others are all important to good health. Vitamins and minerals play critical roles in a variety of biological functions. Athletes and active individuals typically need more vitamins and minerals than sedentary individuals. It can be especially hard to eat perfectly in college, so let a multivitamin take stress away from you.

Dosage: Take your multivitamin with a meal. I take mine with breakfast every day, just to keep it simple. Remember to check the label, since certain multivitamins are taken at multiple meals.

Performance Supplements

If you can afford them, there are a few key performance supplements I recommend for maximum muscle-building results. These are: creatine, casein, and a natural energy supplement.

Creatine ///

If your budget allows, add creatine first. Creatine is one of the most-well-studied supplements on the market. Not only can it help you increase muscle size, but it will also help you build more strength and provide additional training energy. By helping you hit more reps than you'd be able to otherwise, creatine will also help you get the most from every workout. Creatine monohydrate is the most studied, tried-and-true creatine available.

Creatine Load Dosage: First, power up your post-workout protein shakes with a scoop of creatine. If you haven't used creatine before and want the fastest results, you'll go through a quick period of creatine loading. During your loading phase, take up to 30 grams of creatine monohydrate for 5 days. Take one serving of creatine monohydrate with morning, afternoon, and evening meals, plus one additional serving before going to bed. Do this for 4-to-5 days to help saturate your muscles with creatine.

Creatine Maintenance Dosage: After loading, take one serving of creatine per day. Take it with your post-workout protein shake on training days, and any time on your non-workout days.

Casein Protein ///

Unlike whey, which digests quickly, casein is a slow-digesting protein. It's perfect before bed. It can feed your muscles up to 8 hours! Casein is great for overnight repair and recovery, or any time you might go without food for more than a few hours. Casein doesn't hit your system as quickly as whey, but it does provide a steady, slow release of muscle-building amino acids.

Dosage: I always recommend taking a casein shake roughly 30 minutes before bed. Casein will promote recovery when you'd otherwise be fasting.

Energy Supplement ///

I'm not a huge fan of supplements loaded with artificial energy sources. Instead, I choose energy supplements powered by green tea extract, coffee extract, and caffeine pulled from natural sources. Always check labels to review a supplement's stimulant sources. A good natural energy supplement may also include amino acids and other muscle-building nutrients.

Dosage: Most energy supplements can be taken any time you need a boost—in the morning, before a workout, or during an afternoon slump. Of course, you should always check and follow the label.

Supplement Shopping

My supplement suggestions will help you get the most from the gym and the classroom. When buying these or additional supplements, consider these tips:

1/
Look For Sales

Bodybuilding.com often offers buy-2-get-1-free sales, as well as other discounts and promotions. If you can afford the upfront cost, these promotions are a great way to stockpile essential supplements. Most supplements are easy to store and won't expire for two-or-more years.

2/
Buy In Bulk

Ten pounds of whey protein will ultimately be cheaper per serving than five pounds. If you can afford the initial cost, always buy bulk.

3/
Split Servings

If you absolutely have to, stretch your supplements by taking half-servings. I don't typically recommend this, since you won't get the intended benefits of a full dose, but it can be a good way to make certain supplements last longer on a tight budget.

4/
Shop Stacks

Bodybuilding.com typically offers exclusive supplement stacks, which are combinations of synergistic products, at great prices. Stacks are generally cheaper than the sum of their products, so they're a perfect way to get more bang for your buck.

Always remember to keep things balanced. Never depend on a supplement to go work out. Supplements are important for recovery, growth, and more, but they'll never replace hard work, motivation, and good nutrition.

* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.


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plentz

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plentz

is this training sponsored by Optimum Nutrition?

Aug 31, 2012 12:55pm | report
Ragin87

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Ragin87

Steve Cook is an ON athlete, of course its sponsored by Optimum.

Aug 31, 2012 1:03pm | report
jongraham90

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jongraham90

Its not like ON isn't a great brand, he might be sponsored by them but he also isn't leading newcomers in the wrong direction. Their whey is great and I've used it for years, just started taking their creatine 8 months ago (ridiculously cheaply priced). Haven't tried the amino energy and probably won't because I love C4 too much lol, watermelon flavor is so tasty.

Also I dont think the Opti performance pack is necessary as a micro source, but I have been using the opti-men multi and I like it, I'd say its price is in the mid range when considering multis. People love NOW adam on this site, but I'm a fan of the opti men multi. Whatever brands float your boat though I suppose.

Sep 10, 2012 7:48am | report
EricG2006

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EricG2006

How many out there take a fish oil more than once a day w/ their meal? Do you recommend it?

Aug 31, 2012 5:40pm | report
  • Body Stats
  • ht: 14'10"
  • wt: 178.5 lbs
  • bf: 11.7%
thartner

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thartner

fish oil can only help you. it's great for overall health and awesome for your heart. it's cheap too! go to wal mart or your local rite-aid/CVS and you can buy a store brand. at walmart i buy two packs of around 200 servings for 8 dollars. i take it with all three meals but each fish oil has a different recommended serving (depending on brand)

Sep 5, 2012 3:02pm | report
RUNNER14

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RUNNER14

i take GNC triple strength fish oil. i like these because instead of taking a pill each meal i either take it in the morning with a big enough meal or before bed when the body is recovering. i think its important to take it with a meal to properly digest it and it stop the rather gross fish oil burps lol. i actually do recommend it. i notice a big difference in my joint mobility and when i stop everything more stiff and not as smooth. only things i take are whey, creatine vitamin c and fish oil.

Sep 5, 2012 6:41pm | report
klip2006

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klip2006

it depends on the fish oil you are taking. The one that i take is a one a day tablet that i got from gnc. I prefer those because then you dont have to remember to take 3 through out the day.

Sep 6, 2012 3:52am | report
darkley15

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darkley15

Any help on a fish oil that i'm not burping up fish all day long?

Sep 6, 2012 9:51am | report
RUNNER14

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RUNNER14

^ take it with a large enough meal, dont take them on a empty stomach.

Sep 6, 2012 10:11am | report
seanboone

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seanboone

^ Controlled Labs: Orange OxiMega Fish Oil - Citrus Flavored so no fish burbs.

Sep 6, 2012 12:58pm | report
robertoboy

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robertoboy

I like the liquid fish oil because then you don't get an upset stomach from the hard casings of the pills.

Sep 13, 2012 12:10am | report
amnfrazier

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amnfrazier

keep them in the freezer, they thaw in your body so by the time they're opened, theyre already in you r stomach, so no fishy burps.

Nov 30, 2012 4:27pm | report
Grisham239

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Grisham239

i take two with every meal

Mar 4, 2013 4:37pm | report
ruaraifarquhar

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ruaraifarquhar

respect to ON for covering the foundations and not trying to push every supplement they produce into the plan

Aug 31, 2012 10:38pm | report
alex192

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alex192

ON has a solid supplement company and i'm glad to see there not trying to take full advantage of this page like most companies do by saying there spokes person uses 10 products... (Respect)

Sep 1, 2012 12:33am | report
klip2006

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klip2006

Proper nutrition in college? haha.. Good tips though. Exactly what i would tell someone.

Sep 6, 2012 3:47am | report
Aquaqueen

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Aquaqueen

Could you make a similar episode or video on the same supplementation needs for girls in college too? We probably neen a slightly different regimen. Thanks so much!

Sep 6, 2012 8:07am | report
JohnHardesty

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JohnHardesty

The change I would make for females is to switch the multivitamin to Opti-Women by Optimum. Everything else is perfect for male and females alike.

Sep 6, 2012 10:55am | report
stevecook_32

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stevecook_32

John is right when it comes to supplementation if your goals are lean muscle than this is the stack, with Opti-Women being the exception.

Sep 6, 2012 6:33pm | report
rohnar

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rohnar

hey can anyone guide me... :)
well i am about 2 start with supplements.let me knw if i need any change to it.

what all am i going for is:
1.dynamite mega mass 3 times a day,after 3 meals
2.NO xplode 15 mins before workout
3.creatine and glutamine with 4-5 spoons of glucose, 5 mins after workout.

can i have creatine and glutamine together.?

Jan 6, 2013 9:51am | report
  • Body Stats
  • ht: 10'1"
  • wt: 121.66 lbs
  • bf: 15.0%
ProudWalker

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ProudWalker

I was thinking of taking whey and creatine after workout, fish oils with meals, multivitamin with just 1 meal and before i sleep some Casein protein.

Is this ok?

Sep 7, 2012 9:08am | report
LJstrong

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LJstrong

Creatine should be taken pre-workout because it promotes energy, strength, endurance, and overall power during a workout.

Sep 7, 2012 1:01pm | report
jongraham90

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jongraham90

There are a lot of misconceptions with creatine, I like to take it post-workout because that is what has worked for me. Some people think you should cycle creatine, some people think you shouldn't, some people also think you don't need a loading phase (I am one of these people).

My advice is to make sure you take 5 grams a day no matter what, and whether you take it pre or post workout is up to you.

Sep 10, 2012 7:51am | report
MiniRambo7

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MiniRambo7

How do you cycle your creatine?

Sep 10, 2012 12:57pm | report
mthilliard

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mthilliard

usually 6-8 weeks on, 2-4 weeks off.

Dec 6, 2012 1:03pm | report
Showing 1 - 25 of 100 Comments

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