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Back in my 20s, I was interested in how supplements could help me achieve better results. At the time, the science of supplements was just getting started. We were moving past the old days of crummy-tasting protein powders and desiccated liver tablets and into a really exciting era. Scientists were just starting to test various supplement products, and finding that there was a tremendous validity to using them.
Today, supplement science is common, and has yielded even more evidence that supplementation can be an important part of a fitness plan. If you provide your body with the right amount of the nutrients you need every day, you can stay healthier, longer.
Back To Supplementation
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My bottom-line advice is this: Basics are best. Your approach to supplementation should be the same one you use for your workouts and nutrition: Keep it simple, and keep it consistent. Don't try to keep up with every new trend. Pick a workout and stick with it. Pick a nutrition method and stick with it. Pick 2-4 basic supplements and stick with them.
Here are some of my supplement recommendations for people who are actively trying to improve their health through fitness.
Protein is essential for muscle growth and repair. Whey is a fast-digesting milk protein that can help you build muscle and increase strength.* Whey protein enhances recovery, boosts performance, and even supports fat loss.*
One of the things that makes whey protein such an important part of your supplement stack is its fast rate of digestion. It gets to your muscles faster than any other protein you can ingest.
Creatine monohydrate is one of my favorite supplements. It occurs naturally and is an essential component of your body's energy systems. Creatine can help improve your recovery rate, muscular strength, and endurance, and make your muscles appear fuller.*
Whether you're male or female, if you'd like to build more muscle and increase your performance in the gym, then try a creatine supplement.*
Research shows that athletes, and those who train intensely, tend to be low in critical vitamins and minerals. Being short on micronutrients can actually inhibit your ability to make muscle and strength gains, so it's important to supplement.*
By taking a multivitamin, you ensure that you get adequate levels of any vitamins and minerals you may not be getting through food.* Being properly nourished will help support your ability to gain muscle and increase strength.*
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Fish oil is an important source of the critical omega-3 fatty acids. Research on omega-3 fatty acids has suggested that they may help support fat loss and muscle growth.*
Omega-3s have also been suggested to provide benefits for your hair, eyes, skin, joints, and heart health.*
The body can lose up to 50 percent of its glutamine levels during long periods of intense training, and if your immune system or other systems become glutamine-deficient, your muscles' glutamine stores are the first to be robbed.
If your muscles are deprived of glutamine, you're at risk for muscle loss (catabolism). Supplementing with glutamine can help support muscle repair.*
Vitamin D is an oft-forgotten nutrient. However, it's essential for your body because it supports proper calcium absorption in the body. Vitamin D also supports heart health, nerve health, proper thyroid function, and the regulation of phosphorus in the body.
You can get vitamin D from sunlight, cod liver oil, salmon, mackerel, and other food sources. However, if you're not frequently eating those foods and don't see much of the sun, you could benefit from a supplement.
Supplementing with vitamin D may also support healthy testosterone and hormone production.*
Probiotics are good bacteria found in your stomach. They are essential for maintaining health, proper digestion, and immunity.*
These microscopic soldiers may inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria, improve digestion, enhance nutrient absorption, and boost the body's defences.*
An antioxidant is a molecule that has the ability to combat free radicals. Free radicals in your body may cause many harmful health problems and can cause you to age more quickly.* Free radicals can come from automobile exhaust, cigarette smoke, alcohol, saturated fats, and other sources of oxidative stress.
By supplementing with antioxidants, you can help supply your body with the building blocks of important enzymes that may combat free-radical damage.*
Coenzymes are substances that facilitate the activities of enzymes. One particular coenzyme, coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), could play an important role in the production of energy throughout the body.
Also called ubiquinone, CoQ10 is important for mitochondrial energy production in the cells.*
By helping the body convert food to fuel, CoQ10 could be a major component of ATP (energy) production. CoQ10 may also exhibit antioxidant-like properties by fighting free-radical damage.
It may support exercise recovery and heart health.*
Back To Results
Supplements are simply one component of transformation success. They augment your diet and exercise, and may provide other key benefits to your overall well-being, but they're useless without a solid training and nutrition program. Be sure to watch the other Back to Fit overviews for those crucial details!