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Supplementation - 5 Key Questions!

You too can take the initiative to set a realistic and achievable goal and pursue it until you succeed.
Supplement meaning something added to complete a thing, make up for a deficiency, or extend or strengthen the whole. "Added to complete a thing"...this I want you to first of all remember.

Supplements are intended to provide your body with certain nutrients that your diet or schedule does not allow. They are not intended to be the "complete or whole" thing by themselves.

Many times I, and maybe even you, have been asked your opinion on certain supplements or supplementation as a whole. I think back to when creatine first hit the market big time and everyone was scrambling to buy some creatine.

Why? Because it will make you bigger and stronger. Next came the prohormone wave with Andro and Norandro products gaining plenty of attention. Everybody was buying them and using them. Why? Because, again, it will make you bigger and stronger.

Why Take Supplements?

The only problem I have with supplements is that most people who take them don't know "why" they do. They believe the hype that is given to them via product labeling or the barely eighteen-year-old teenager working the counter at the local health and nutrition store.

For some reason, logic goes out the window for most of us when it comes to supplements. This is exactly what the supplement industry counts on.

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A whole bunch of fit-conscious people blindly spending hundreds and hundreds of dollars per year looking for that magical pill, powder, or liquid that will transform them into their ideal state of being. Is that realistic? In most cases not. Not, because the supplements are not providing any benefit.

The reason I say "not" is because we usually buy and use supplements without understanding what they do, when is the best time to take them, how much to take, which works best with which - and most of all, does it provide any benefit?

I'm Guilty

"I'm guilty, your honor". I have, myself, lived the careless life of a supplement junkie. Taking many popular supplements (with the exception of prohormones) without regard to what they were. I sometimes wonder what possessed me to take such risks with my health and hard earned dollars.

The only answer to be found was my desire to keep progressing. Unfortunately, it took a while for me to learn that continual and substantial progress can only be realized with knowledge and understanding. I found that it was necessary for me to learn what nutrients my body was lacking even with proper diet.

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Even more, I learned what nutrients were necessary to recover and repair following exercise. Finally, I learned what was necessary to perform at my highest potential in the gym, at work, at home etc.

What I discovered was that I had spent countless dollars "buying into the fade" and not "buying into my future". Of course, that discovery was all made through researching and reading. There is a wealth of supplement information scattered all around us.

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The unfortunate part of it is that we don't understand how to make it useful for our own unique situation. That is why the supplement fad acquires a strong position in our daily diets. Our lack of developing a logical supplementation plan using all that information is what causes it to happen.

As I mentioned previously, the key questions that I decided I needed to answer when supplementing are:

  1. What do they do?
  2. When is the best time to take them?
  3. How much to take?
  4. Which works best with which?
  5. Does it provide any benefit?

Having enough knowledge and information to answer these questions has greatly benefited me when it comes to supplement planning and purchasing. It has helped me decide whether it is appropriate for reaching my goals.

I know there are thousands and thousands of sources of supplement information. I'm going to provide you with my approach for deciding on the right supplementation for me.

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1. What Do They Do?

Asking this question provides an answer that will help to determine whether or not it is necessary for reaching my intended goal. It also enables me to identify those that do the same thing. You find some herbal supplements like Melatonin or Kava Kava that claim to promote better sleep patterns.

Which is better? The only way to know is to try one or the other using the prescribed dosage for the prescribe time. Researching any supplement you decide to take is essential.

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2. When Is The Best Time To Take Them?

Another question worth asking. I will admit that there was a time that I took a thermogenic right before bed. After several long and sleepless nights, I finally realized that the thermogenic was the culprit.

After finding out "what it did", I then knew that taking them right before bed was not a very good idea. However, there are other alternative fat burners that can be used and still allow you a restful nights sleep. You just have to know how your body responds to what.

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3. How Much To Take?

As a culture, we want results and we want them instantly! Whether it's bodybuilding or just trying to get fit for the first time, many of us are impatient and want to wake up the next day with all the attributes we dreamed about.

To help to make a rapid change, some of us will make a sometimes deadly mistake of doubling or tripling supplement dosages. Doubling or tripling thermogenics can be fatal depending on your health. I have known even the most healthiest of persons tell me that they feel like their heart is about to burst through their chest when taking only half a recommended dosage of a thermogenic!

As a rule, I have learned to always start slow with any and all supplements. Whether it is amino acids, glutamine, creatine, etc..., I gradually increase the amounts I ingest until I reach a recommended dosage. Even some of the recommended dosages can be misleading.

It is important to realize that a supplements is supposed to "supplement" your diet! If you are eating "right", it's probably overkill to ingest many of the supplements at the recommended dosage level. The supplement companies do this to sell more of the product.

With a little attention to detail, you can find that taking a BCAA supplement, for instance, can be significantly reduced if you are eating a diet high in fish, chicken, or turkey.

Another consideration is your activity level. Depending on how active you are, has a major impact on how much or how little of certain supplements you need.

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4. Which Works Best With Which?

Combining or "stacking" supplements has always been a challenging and confusing thing to understand. My feeling is to keep it simple stupid (KISS). Why create any more confusion than necessary? As you research and learn what supplements actually do, you can better decide on differing combinations or stacking.

I would suggest that, until you learn, take them cautiously and spread them out. Maybe taking them an hour apart or try one type for its recommended length and then try another. As you learn, you'll discover combinations that can be taken together.

This will help you to realize, based on your own progress, if the "stack" is worth the investment or not. Which leads to my final question to ask when taking supplements...

5. Does It Provide Any Benefit?

This can only be answered by taking a supplement for a length of time and assessing your progress or success. Again, it can be very difficult to gage your success or what enabled it to happen when you are shoveling all kinds of supplements into your mouth throughout the day!

It is possible that some supplements taken together can hinder the absorption of one or the other. If you isolate supplementation, you can better determine its benefit which means you will feel better about investing the money.

All this may sound obvious but if you ask yourself if you've made any of the mistakes I mentioned in the first paragraph, many of you would say, "Hell, yes!" Before I go, I would like to recommend a source that provides explicit informational details on a long list of supplements.

The book is called "Sports Supplements" by Vince Andrich. I highly suggest getting a copy and using it as a guide in your supplementation program.

Thanks for reading and, as usual, I shall return!