T Nation

Supplement Timing

Any opinions welcome on the deciphering the instructions on labels…

For example, on more than a few occasions I’ve used similar products from competing firms giving different instructions regarding timing…


Take 3 times daily, preferably with meals.

Take 3 times daily, on an empty stomach.

Take 3 times daily, 30 minutes before a meal

Big question i have is what is the importance of taking some supplements on an empty stomach while taking others with food. I understand that certain nutrients help deliver amino acids into the body, but at the end of the day how could so many refutable companies make so many different dosing suggestions?

Did you intentionaly use refutable, or was that a freudian slip?
I have never noticed much difference in the effectiveness of a supp based on timing other than pwo drinks and creatine.

Isn’t a Freudian slip sexual in nature? Anyway, some supplements can be a little harsh on the stomach, so they are taken with food. Some need immediate absorbtion or have interactions with food, so they are taken on an empty stomach. Some might illicit a certain hormonal response related to eating food, so you want it to take effect while you eat.

Obviously someone else can explain in more detail, but I need to procrastinate.

I hate to say it, mdamon, but it really depends. As a general rule, vitamins and minerals should be taken with meals. They’re cofactors in enzymatic processes. And there is a FLURRY of enzymatic processes going on in conjunction with digesting and absorbing and storing or utlizing the food you’ve eaten. So that’s easy.

Some supps NEED to be taken on an empty stomach. One that comes to mind is something like Wobenzym, which is a proteolytic enzyme combination. If you take it with protein, it will digest the protein you’ve eaten. In reality, you want to take it on an empty stomach so that systemically it’s used to break down damaged protein structures and suppress inflammation. So there’s an example of a supp that NEEDS to be taken on an empty stomach.

Some non-vitamin supps are better taken with fat containing meals. I’m thinking of DHEA, pregnenolone, and CoQ10.

In general, amino acids that are being used therapeutically need to be taken on an empty stomach. Otherwise they compete for uptake, resulting in your receiving little to no benefit.

If you’re taking herbs for a medical condition, I’d recommend you follow the advice of your healthcare practitioner. If taken with food, the result/effect is almost one of timed release. If taken on an empty stomach, the effect is faster and stronger.

I do remember reading something Cy Wilson said one time, and that is that a lot of manufacturers test their supps on an empty stomach to take out any element of variability. So that’s how the label usually reads. But that doesn’t mean you wouldn’t derive the full benefit if you took them with a meal.

So the bottom line as I said when I was starting out is that it depends. Ask the manufacturere what they recommend and ask them why. Even then, research it yourself until you’re satisfied.

Thanks TT…this clears alot of the confusion up for me. It’s difficult to eat six to eight meals a day and have a window of time w/ an empty stomach.

[quote]mindeffer01 wrote:
Did you intentionaly use refutable, or was that a freudian slip?
I have never noticed much difference in the effectiveness of a supp based on timing other than pwo drinks and creatine.

LOL…yeah I know what you mean…My opinion on this is there are certain supplements that are commodities, like maybe creatine monohydrate (no need to argue, i’m just picking this as an example), and there are supplements that require pharma like production processes like maybe the type of whey used in Spike. You’re right many companies try to push products with false promises that don’t have the right ingredients or mixing techniques to deliver what is promised.