Q & A With Clayton South - Avoiding Supplement Scams!

Clayton sorts out another list of questions relating to the creatine, importance of training logs, multivitamins, BCAAs, and more. Read on!

Article Summary:
  • If something is turning you off from working out altogether, don't do it.
  • Bodybuilders need more vitamins because of greater bodily stresses.
  • Keep yourself informed to avoid supplement scams.

  • [ Q ] I am a 16-year-old healthy male athlete and I weigh 160lbs. I've been working out 4-5 days a week for a year and a half, and I take whey protein and glutamine.

    I've given thought to taking a creatine supplement and was wondering if CEE would be the right kind for me. What do you think? And, if not CEE, which type of creatine would be best? Finally, my mother said she was concerned that creatine might stunt my growth. Is this possible?

    Thanks, Nate

      [ A ] I'm going to open my answer to your question by first giving the standard disclaimer: I'm not a doctor and, as a young person especially, my advice to you does not constitute medical advice, and you should always talk to your doctor before trying supplements.

      Generally, people under the age of 18 are generally discouraged from using supplements for obvious health reasons - keep this in mind. Now that the boring legal mumbo-jumbo is out of the way, let's get to the real answer.

      There's no question that Creatine Ethyl Ester (CEE) works well for a lot of people. In fact, most people who try CEE love it and claim that nothing else works quite like it. The general consensus is that once you try CEE, you quickly realize just how wrong the critics of CEE have been, and still are in their criticisms of this supplement ingredient.

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      At your age, however, I recommend sticking with the basics: protein, vitamins and glutamine. These are all great supplements with a proven track record and well-established safety profiles. As for CEE, because of your age, I don't recommend it.

      Instead, I think you should start out at the bottom of the "creatine ladder" and give regular creatine monohydrate a try. Then, depending on how you respond to this supplement that is the base ingredient used in all other forms of creatine, you can give the others a try, with some idea of how you respond and tolerate the supplements and what kind of results to expect.

      As for your mother's concerns, you have to realize that she does have your best interests at heart. So, while there is no evidence to suggest that creatine of any kind effects growth in adolescents, her heart is in the right place.

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      The best thing you can do is help her become as informed as possible - get her articles on creatine, and search for various studies on the effects of creatine monohydrate and possible side-effects. This will not only help to educate her about creatine and put her mind at ease, but it will also help educate you in the process.

      At your young age, the best thing you can do is read - read as many articles as you can, and thoroughly investigate anything that you're thinking of putting into your body. This will not only help you make informed decisions, it will also help you get the biggest supplement bang for your buck while also keeping you healthy long-term.

      Good luck!


    [ Q ] I'm 17, I play football and I'm 5'8" at 150lbs. I do my mandatory routines for football but would like to lift only for muscle growth. I want to gain 30lbs of muscle in 28 weeks, and I've created a program that has me working Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

    My question isn't really about my routine, but about the fact that I can become very overwhelmed by counting every calorie and every gram of carbs, protein and fat for my nutrition plan.

    I want to know: do you agree that eating 6 meals a day and using supplements should be sufficient to see great results without having to keep a plan of my meals and a training log? I just find that the constant planning and calculating takes a great toll on me, and just stresses me out.

    Thanks, Drew.

      [ A ] While many bodybuilders keep logs of their training programs and log and record every aspect of their meals, complete with quantities of proteins, fats and carbs, I agree that eating 6 meals daily and taking good supplements in conjunction with a quality workout program should be enough to get you great results long-term. There is, however, one catch: you have to know what you're doing and how to spot and correct any problems that may occur along the way.

      The fact is, most bodybuilders - especially young bodybuilders - don't have the experience of time and multiple failures to give them the set of mental tools and perspective to do the kind of troubleshooting and detective work that's needed to train successfully uninterrupted.

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      This is why most beginners keep log books and record every iota of information about their training and nutrition habits - because these logs often reveal a pattern of action that led to whatever problem they find themselves facing. And, by knowing the cause of a problem, it is much easier to efficiently find a solution.

      It won't put your mind at ease, but you're not alone in feeling that recording every aspect of your daily life creates a real stress that can, in the end, totally turn you off of training. For years, many professionals have told stories about how the stresses of recording and over-analyzing every aspect of their lifestyle almost or did, for a time, cause them to quit bodybuilding altogether.

      In my own personal situation, it was this obsession with every last detail that caused me serious motivation problems in my early and mid 20's - as a result, I stopped training for a long time, and I started eating very poorly.

    BODYBUILDING.COM FORUM: MOTIVATION THREAD
    I Need Some Help And Motivation!
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    I Need Some Help And Motivation!
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      For me, the stresses were worse simply because it's my career to think and write about about the minute technical aspects of training and nutrition all day long. Simply, I was overwhelmed and my motivation gone - and it's only been recently that I've learned to go easy on everything and do what I can.

      Learning when to cut back on the obsession is critical for your long-term success. Not doing so took me from a powerlifter and, for a time, turned me into a very unhappy fat guy. Let me put it this way: you don't have to do EVERYTHING right - no matter what the magazines tell you.

      Just make sure that you get the most important things GENERALLY right - and don't stress it if you're not always perfect - realizing that you never will be. The fact is, there is always more you COULD have done, one more supplement you COULD take, and always one more person telling you that you SHOULD do something more.

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      Remember: the purpose of working out and getting into shape is to feel good - so if over analyzing everything is going to burn you out and turn you off from working out altogether, don't do it. While keeping a workout log is helpful for some people, it can be a disaster for others. Find what works for you, and if you don't want to keep a book, then don't. It's that simple.


    [ Q ] I've been reading your work in magazines and on various internet websites, and have a question about multivitamins. While I am not asking for a specific brand name - although that would be helpful - let me get right to the point: Are popular brands for regular people any good? If not, why?

      [ A ] While the so-called "popular" vitamin and mineral brands on the market made for regular people are effective for regular people, none of these products are appropriate for bodybuilders. Why? It's simple: training is incredibly stressful, and training dramatically increase the quantity of vitamins and minerals you need to stay healthy, recover from exercise and grow stronger and bigger.

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      Sadly, it's also been my experience that most of the vitamin and mineral supplements on the market that are made for and marketed to bodybuilders are often not very effective, simply because they're under dosed - and you have the Federal Government to thank for this.

      Currently, the United States Government and its various agencies - specifically the FDA - still operate according to the outdated RDA guidelines that recommend vitamin and mineral intake minimums needed to fight health problems.

      Naturally, because the RDA values are the lowest intake values needed to prevent deficiency, the RDA values are also the intake recommendations most likely to prevent overdose.

    What Does RDA Stand For?
    Recommended Daily Allowance. The U.S. Recommended Daily Allowances were established by FDA in 1973 as a reference for use in nutritional labeling and other regulations involving nutrition components.

      These government values, coupled with the fact that the government has in recent years "cracked down" on makers of so-called "dangerous" products, have created the current situation: supplement makers are scared of being sued by consumers or shut down by government, and so rather than moving away from the safe minimum values established by the government, companies focus on safety and go with the minimums. In other words: products are geared more for safety than efficacy.

      Even though I'm supposed to have 1st Amendment free speech rights, I don't. Like almost every other right under the Constitution, the government has gutted and trampled the 1st Amendment free speech rights, so I can't name specific product names while also saying what products do.

      So, I can say only this: there is one multivitamin and mineral product on the market that WORKS - It comes in a yellow can, and contains individual paks of vitamins. You can do a search for the word 'pak' and find it - I know you'll go animal when you do.

      Related Vitamin Articles:

      If that's not obvious enough, here is another hint: The ISSA - International Sports Sciences Association - has established PDI's - Performance Daily Intakes - that establish the effective vitamin and mineral dosages for hard-training bodybuilders.

      I suggest you get a copy of the PDI's and look for the product that meets these guidelines. Once again, you'll go animal for these pak's once you find them. This unnamed product really works!


    [ Q ] I can't tolerate whey and casein protein supplements, and have started taking BCAA's pre and post-workouts. I was going to add glutamine into the mix, but a nutritionist told me that glutamine at a high dosage of 5g per serving was harmful for me. Is this true?

      [ A ] I don't know who your nutritionist is, or where he or she was certified, but it sounds to me like you've got some nuts left over from Christmas. Glutamine harmful? Are you kidding me? No way - what a crackpot!

      Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in your body, and it's one of the most versatile, being used for everything from maintaining the free amino acid pool, for glucose manufacture, and to stimulate growth hormone secretion, among other things.

      For athletes, glutamine is technically classified as conditionally essential, but I think it's more than that: it's essential and it's a must if you train hard.

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      Of course, there are always detractors of glutamine who claim that it's not needed if you eat well. While I disagree with these people - and so does the scientific evidence - not even one of them have gone so far as to claim that glutamine is actually harmful.

      I'm going to suggest three things to you: first, take glutamine - you can find dosing instructions with a quick search. Secondly, don't listen to a word your so-called "nutritionist" tells you - he or she doesn't know what they're talking about.

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      And, finally, whoever your nutritionist is, it's obvious that they don't have a clue about glutamine in general, or how to do scientific research in general. If they did, they wouldn't give you this crazy advice. FIRE THEM in a hurry and get yourself the services of a real professional with some reputation, education and experience.


    [ Q ] I've read a lot of articles written by you, and you do a great job of being informative and entertaining. However, I find that while a lot of writers warn consumers about scams, no one comes out and names names. As a result, I still feel like I'm not being informed.

    How can I get access to the lab reports that you experts use that show what exactly is in these products, and who is being honest or dishonest?

    Thanks, Mike.

      [ A ] You're right that a lot of writers warn about scams - I also do this as I consider it one of my primary responsibilities to help protect my readers from dishonest snake-oil peddlers. In fact, nothing gives me greater pleasure than to ruin the day of a conman and wipe the sly smile off of his face by educating consumers.

    What Is Wrong With Snake-Oil?
    Snake oil is a traditional Chinese medicine used to treat joint pain. However, the most common usage of the phrase is as a derogatory term for compounds offered as medicines which implies that they are fake, fraudulent, quackish, or ineffective. The expression is also applied metaphorically to any product with exaggerated marketing, but questionable or unverifiable quality or benefit.

      I love to deprive cheats and cons of a dishonest buck. Bodybuilders work hard and, like everyone else, deserve to be treated honestly. I'll always do my part to make sure they get it.

      Unfortunately, you're also right that, as writers, we can't name these cheats and cons, primarily because we don't want to end up in some courtroom being sued for doing damage to someone's brand - even if what we say is true.

      It's unfortunate but true: money often perverts the justice system, using it as a weapon instead of a tool for what's right, and dishonest companies sometimes go to great lengths and great expense to use the justice system as a weapon to silence free speech and the press - and the rights of the public to be informed along with it.

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      However, there is one great equalizer: the internet. It's a fact that no amount of money can stop the spread of information, and so the internet is your best defense against dishonesty. Use it.

      There's a great website that tests products and makes the results of the reports available publicly - http://consumerlab.com. This website does independent testing of hundreds of dietary supplements on the market, and makes the tests available publicly. Of course, you do have to sign up to be a member on the site, but that's a small price to pay for the peace of mind that it might give you.

      Of course, there is also the internet in general, and bodybuilding message boards specifically. However, you have to be weary of claims you might find on the internet at large, as individuals and even some companies have circulated fake lab reports in the past - something that I've discussed at length in several of my past articles.

      In any event, the website provided and the message boards should set you up for some good truth hunting. Good luck!

    Disclaimer:

    The information provided in this publication is for educational and informational purposes only and does not serve as a replacement to care provided by your own personal health care team or physician. The author does not render or provide medical advice, and no individual should make any medical decisions or change their health behavior based on information provided here. Readers are encouraged to confirm the information contained herein with other sources. Readers and consumers should review the information in this publication carefully with their professional health care provider.

    The information in this or other publications authored by the writer is not intended to replace medical advice offered by physicians. Reliance on any information provided by the author is solely at your own risk. The author does not recommend or endorse any specific tests, products, medication, procedures, opinions, or other information that may be presented in the publication. The author does not control information, advertisements, content, and articles provided by discussed third-party information suppliers.

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