We tend to transfer that "quick hit" kind of thinking into every area of our lives, even our bodies. We all know that we can get an instant effect from alcohol or cigarettes and, maybe, we tend to have the same expectations about other things we introduce into our bodies, like supplements.
But remember, cigarettes and booze are, for the most part, poisons, and our bodies will react quickly to them. Remember also, that construction takes much longer than destruction. When building up our bodies, the instant pudding mentality can leave us with many unmet expectations, and in some cases, that attitude could be dangerous. The following is an overview of my personal experience with various supplements, and the results (or lack there of) I received from them.
Highly Recommended Supplements
The first substance I tried when wanting to get into natural bodybuilding was Creatine Monohydrate. I had read that creatine helps muscles access extra ATP in the body, and that it gives the muscles a decided pump by helping them store extra water. The messages were true. After a 5 day loading phase of 20 grams a day, and a maintenance dose of just 5 grams a day, my muscles were performing as advertised. Score one touchdown for Creatine.
Ephedra was next on the list, and I saw that on Bodybuilding.com they had multiple choices (in the days before the looming ban). Ephedra worked better than advertised for energy, metabolism and thermogenic boost, and it worked right now, just like mom's instant pudding. I'm sad that all the negative media attention has caused one of the most effective and affordable products available to us to be discontinued. Foul ball!
I considered adding chromium picolinate to increase the mobilization of fat, and hit my first brick wall. The dosage said to take one tab a day. I did for 30 days. No dice. So I increased the dose to one tab, two times a day, giving the substance another 30 days, but still no results. I doubled it to 2 tabs, 2 times a day and was just about to give up on it, when I began to see that it was really working.
I used to be over 300 lbs (none of it muscle) and can happily say that I have lost 95 of it. The point is that I had two previous, quick-hit, successes with supplements and expected everything else to behave the same way. My body needed a good 90 days (maybe higher doses quicker would have helped, bit I don't recommend that) to adjust to the new substance. My head took a bit longer to accept the adjusted thinking.
Now, I am prepared to give each new supplement a full 90 days to see if my body responds well to it. I think its good advice that you do too. Try each new supplement one at a time so that you can tell if the effects are coming from what you are adding. Do not get impatient. Construction takes time, and proper construction takes longer.
Flax seed was the best surprise of all! I had done quite a bit of damage to my knees living life at over 300 lbs. I tried glucosamine for over 6 months (some months at double doses) with very little benefit. Then I started reading up on flax seeds, and oil. This stuff is straight from the Lord in Heaven! The knee pain is completely gone, and I can even get on a cardio glide, and I can do squats.
I take 9 tablespoons of seeds a day (ground fresh) and let me tell you, if I get lazy and skip it for 3 days straight, I know it. It's that good. Read up on what it does and then buy it. I tell everyone that if they have to pick one or two things just to get started, pick flax!
Here's the rest of the story:
Glutamine (muscle soreness)
Liked it immediately. Tried it for a few weeks, then quit, then went back on again just to be sure. FACT: whatever else it does or doesn't do, it reduces muscle soreness by a huge amount!
Green tea extract (weight loss)
Tried it, liked it, use it, results after 45 days.
Long Jack (testosterone boost)
Tried it, like it, use it, results after 30 days.
Maca (testosterone boost)
Tried it and at first didn't like it at all. It snuck up on me after 60 days, now I use it.
ZMA (GH booster)
Tried it, didn't like it, snuck up on me after 60 days, now I use it- at night only
And lest you think I'm just writing a feel good article without any objective criticism, keep paying attention.
There were two substances I really gave a good chance to, and didn't get much from: Tribulus and a Lysine/Arginine mix. I gave Tribulus a good 90 days and didn't get much of anything from it. But that's my story. I gave a bottle of Optimum Tribulus 625 to a close friend of mine who is closer to 50 years old, and he came back before 30 days was up wanting to know where to get it. He loved it!
The second disappointment was a mix of Lysine/Arginine at 2.5 grams each per day. I picked up the tip from an old issue of Muscular Development. It said that just 2.4 grams of Arginine/Lysine a day boosted serum levels of Somatotropin by 3-18 fold. That's some claim! It hasn't happened. I'm going to give it a couple more weeks (that's what I have left in my bottles) but after that, I'm going to discontinue the Arginine.
I'm going to keep on the Lysine, but only at half the dose, because I read it has some other benefits and it's cheap. I'm not saying the A/L won't work. Someone else may have great results with it. Shannon Pittman, another writer for BB.com, loves Tribulus, and uses it as part of his regular regimen.
The moral is: Don't get caught up in instant pudding thinking, don't believe that everything that works for someone else will work for you, and don't give up because something hasn't turned you from Jerry Lewis into Lou Ferrigno in the first 48 hours you try it.
Read up on everything you are going to buy. What's it really supposed to do? Be prepared to give it time to work right. You'll find out what works, and what doesn't, and you'll save money in the long run. The most important point is that you'll find a good supplement program, for your body.
The Penny Pincher's Guide To Supplements!