T Nation

Do Supplements Really Matter with a Good Diet?

Ok, so in February of this year I finally got my diet in the order, and I started supplementing with about 5 grams of creatine per day, and 50 grams of extra protein.

By August I was sick to death of protein & creatine, I just couldn’t choke down the supplements anymore, so I stopped taking the. My diet also tailed off a bit at this point. So my numbers slipped, slightly, although nothing big.

Recently I’ve gotten my diet back in decent order, and my numbers have bounced back in the gym. The thing is I’m not wasting money on any supplements, and my numbers are as high as they’ve ever been, and I look just as good.

I’m starting to think supplements are a scam. Has anyone here ever tried having a decent diet WITHOUT supplements? I’m betting dime on the dollar you’d put up identical numbers to what you do on these scam horse crap supplements.

I quit taking creatine however I might finish up the tub one day. Im thinking about quitting the whey. It just seems like I grow just as good without all the junk. I have meal plan in college so food cost is not a problem for me. I know how you feel. Just drink lots of milk.

If you have a perfect diet, than supplements will be useless.

Is your diet perfect?

you getting enough of zinc, magnesium, calcium, B complex, iron, vitamin E, EPA/DHA, blah, blah, blah…

A perfect diet doesn’t make supplements useless, just less effective.

It’s talked about all the time on here that if your goal is muscle gain then why would you not want to take full advantage in the terms of gaining muscle.

This is where supplements come in. Yes, you can make great gains without them. But why limit yourself if you have the money.

Do supplements matter? Maybe, and as is usually the case with these things, it depends.

The problem with most sports supplements, save for stimulants, beta alanine etc etc, is that you dont tend to ‘feel’ them. Without the obvious sensation of something feeling different, how do you know that it does what it claims? Does that mean to say that they dont work? well no.

I think the problem stems from people believing that supplements make huge improvements in performance and bodycomposition. Simply put, they dont. And especially without appropriate nutrition and training cognisent with your current goals.

Supplements serve to supplement the diet and should represent a small part of a well structured, individualised nutritional program. Get the basics right and look to supplement if necessary.

Yes you can get all the nutrients you need from whole foods, however, I have yet to come across many who actually do.

It depends on what you consider a supplement. If, for example, protein shakes are what you need to get enough protein, then by all means use them. In that case it would be food. Same with liquid fish oil.

I would count that as a fat source, not a supplement even though it’s sold as one. I think coconut oil is also labeled a “dietary supplement”, so in that case it’s a technically a food but because of certain laws it’s labeled a supplement.

So, to answer your question I would say that if you can get all you need from foods which is definitely possible (albeit difficult), then maybe you don’t need them. On the other hand some supplements can replace pharmaceuticals.

You could take Z-12 instead of a hypnotic (not medical advice!). Supplements (most) are designed to optimize things, not replace a solid diet. Just look at some of the things Poliquin says people should do.

Great ideas, but some things he recommends are not very realistic. It doesn’t mean if you don’t do exactly what he says then you won’t make any progress. Plenty of people built muscle without tons of supplements.

[quote]THE_CLAMP_DOWN wrote:
If you have a perfect diet, than supplements will be useless.

Is your diet perfect?

you getting enough of zinc, magnesium, calcium, B complex, iron, vitamin E, EPA/DHA, blah, blah, blah…


That is true, very very true. But most ppl cannot obtain this or will be inefficient (ie bodybuilders would need a lot more food) to do so therefore supplements help “supplement” the diet.

I just love the taste of a good protein shake and feel good drinkign it after i workout. So i’m not changing that anytime soon.

Even if it is a protein shake vs. a steak sandwich after working out. BUt i will eat that steak for dinner lol

No, not all supplements are scams or garbage. However, you can take the finest supplements on the face of the earth and if your digestive system is not functioning properly, you won’t be reaping the full benefits of them.

Also, not all supplements are good for all people. Why else does one person have great results using a supp and someone else sees or feels no improvement?

It’s a crap shoot. Use what works for you and ditch what doesn’t. I respond ridiculously well to creatine but not whey…guess what I did?

What’s disturbing is how the best in bodybuilding and strength sports are willing to allow their name to be used or even start a supplement company of their own (Dorian Yates etc.) selling supplements for which there is absolutely no evidence, like tribulus, or the extremely expensive pills which contain a little bit of zinc and magnesium.

How about the isolated amino acids like BCAA and glutamine? Who proved they are necessary? I’ve been to Dr.Squat’s (Fred Hatfield) forum and he was telling how you need to take this and that for the best gains and yeah,he’s connected to the industry too.

I recently stopped taking whey while deciding to lose weight. I have been eating far less than I used to and as far as I can tell,I’m doing just as well as before.

[quote]THE_CLAMP_DOWN wrote:
If you have a perfect diet, than supplements will be useless.

Is your diet perfect?

you getting enough of zinc, magnesium, calcium, B complex, iron, vitamin E, EPA/DHA, blah, blah, blah…


No one’s diet is perfect, some supplements you just get get from a daily food intake.

The right supplement approach will help you gain mass. BETA-7 increases work capacity, Whey Protein supplements your diet with more protein, BCAAs increase protein synthesis… there are tons of scams but various compounds have proven to work time and time again…

The thing is you can get without supplements, period. You can get as big as possible with supplemets.

I think with supplements you can’t “feel” you have to observed your body enough to know if its doing what its says. I.E. I can now tell that CEE holds water in my muscle well (like its supposed to) because of how I look if my carbs have been as low. Meaning-I don’t look nearly as flat if I’m taking CEE with low carbs as I do without CEE with low carbs. Also, I know Creatine Mono makes me hold more sub-q water based on how my midsection looks than CEE.

My point in all that is, you really have to know yourself to know if some things are working. Same with how my shoulders feel joint wise when I’m taking enough fish oil or not.

supplements at times can be useful other times not so much, it’s pretty much up to the individuals digression. I’d say supplements are more useful in a cut because you cant eat as much meaning you may be missing out on some important vitamins and minerals.

as far as supplementing with zinc, mega dosing fish oil and having some protein powder + carbs PWO yes it makes a huge difference to me, not just for training but for general health

heres a spin on the subject…


I could be way wrong here , but I think beginners need to avoid the supplement isle completely for at least a year.

folks at this stage of the game are’nt in tune with their bodies enough to know if they’re benefitting from the product ; nor can they recognise differences in training stimulus . I also feel the “crutch” effect is way too easy to depend on .

take me as an example ; I consider myself to still be in the beginner phase after 2 years ,and just within the past 6 months I seem to have made strides in having a feel for whats going on with training/nutrition . kinda hard to explain . but the first year I was clueless as to which lifts/variations were a waste of time and which were gettin’ the job done . same with intensity…1st year not a whole lot there . and nutrition too . I dont claim to eat perfectly clean ; but I can now feel differences based on what I ate. the first year that wasnt so.

point being that I think it would be best for newbs to keep things as simple as possible during the first part of the learning curve .

bash away

I agree with the above statement.
Anymore, mostly with budget and being a college student. The only supps I take are Surge (b/c I get shakey as hell after my wrkout, the sugar & protein helps me come back to life before swimming), fish oil, and a multi-vitamin.

Other than that, I find that about a half gallon of milk everyday in place of whey, I actually eat more and have made more gains than when I was doing the protein shakes throughout the day. It is much more satisfying anyway to eat food rather than drink the whey.

I’ve tried just about every supplement out there and found what worked for me and what made me feel better. I’m sure it varies from person.

Protein is not expensive in the least when compared dietary counterparts. Meat is expensive!

depends on your goals.

I do a fair amount of moderate lifting and interval training with swimming and running, and only focus on increasing my work capacity and time splits.

If you’re doing lots of work, nothing beats lots of food (and regularly downing half a gallon of OJ a day).

I will put in my word for the TRIBEX they sell on this site. It’s the only supplement I’ve ever taken where I can actually ‘feel’ something. And regardless if it makes you significantly stronger or not, it’s sort of fun to have the middle-schoolesque erections all the time.


I like all the replies here. I’m thinking the fish oil didn’t do a lot for me, since I already eat a ton of fish anyway. I eat a ton of steak/pork (It’s actually MUUCH cheaper than protein powder if you get it on sale). I actually can’t tell if the creatine effected me or not, I may try 10g per day instead of 5.

I think supplements fill in the gaps more than anything else. They are not designed to be substitutions. If they were we would all be buying substitutions in stead of supplements.

Completely agree about the dietary system comments. If the engine is broken it does not matter what kind of gas you put in the car.

Bodybuilders shelf life is short and few athletes can make money doing it exclusively. Someone comes waving a check in your face you look at the numbers before the decimal point. I do not think a lot of concern goes into the ingredients on the label of that tub of crap you are hocking.