T Nation

Supplementation and Is It Worth It?


#1

I'm sure you've heard a lot about amino spiking and the recent revelations about what is actually in supplements.

How much do you rely on them?
What do you take?
Is it worth it?

Pre-workouts, creatine, amino acids, would you be the same if you didn't take them?

Are they just placebos?

Seems to me pre-workouts and fat burners at the moment are literally just caffeine with bullshit added ingredients with a large price tag, when you can go and get 100 x 200mg caffeine pills for $5.

In the UK we aren't allowed propriety blends so ingredients have to be transparent with the actually doses listed.

Even then who is checking and who is to say that is what is them anyway?

PED's have this huge stigma about them, but if you're using pharma grade gear you can at least put your hands up and say you know what is going in your body.

Be good to know your .02 - sometimes I think chicken, eggs and potatoes are all you need.

You didn't see Frank Zane or Sergio Oliva necking aminos, Whey Hyrdolysate and creatine and these guys have arguably the best 2 physiques the world has ever seen.


#2

No, do you have a link?

Many supplements work and are backed by research and hard evidence, eg creatine, aminos, HBCDs.

If you do not want to take them then just stick to food.


#3

This seems like a rude thing to post on a supplement company's forums. Supps from a reputable vendor like Biotest definitely work; the question is whether or not they have a great enough effect to be worth the money you spend on them. This depends on the individual's goals and circumstances, but if you want optimal results and money is no object, I don't see why you wouldn't use Supps.


#4

Personally I use them, and I own a supplement store/distributor company.


#5

I don't believe anyone should "rely" on supplements, but I do believe that intentionally avoiding high-quality supplements designed to support certain goals is giving yourself an unnecessary handicap towards reaching your goals.

No, because most supplements have a legit tangible (if not nearly-immediate) result. There's a noticeable difference in my performance and recovery when I use Plazma or Surge vs when I don't. I feel a difference after I drink a Spike vs when I don't. I can even feel when I bump up my Flameout intake compared to when I don't (joints feel significantly better).

Those boosts, even if they're 2 or 5 or 9% better than I'd otherwise be, add up over the long-term. People have certainly gotten great results without any supplements, but trying to do that in today's age is kinda like saying "Hey, Lewis and Clark made it to California just by foot and boat, so I'll skip the airport."

The intelligent and strategic use of high-quality supplements will amplify hard work, but they won't de-prioritize it. Put The best supps on top of a crap diet and/or training plan and you still end up with crap results.

Placebo in the sense that they don't actually work, and your body only "thinks" they work? No. Creatine, for example, is probably the most thoroughly-researched supplement in the last 20 years and it's repeatedly been shown to be effective and useful.

Something as simple as caffeine has also been repeatedly shown to provide measurable results in performance. A small number of people might be "non-responders" to a certain substance, but that doesn't mean the substance should be considered ineffective for most.

You really need to brush up on your history, especially if you're going to be selling supps. Frank Zane was a huge proponent of vitamins, minerals, and individual aminos. The running joke at the time was that his nickname "The Chemist" allegedly came from his education in math and chemistry and his diverse use of vitamins/amino supps.

Vince Gironda and Rheo Blair (Note: Blair worked with Sergio Oliva in the late-1960s) were also advocates of protein powders and vitamin/mineral/amino supplements and had bodybuilders using them as far back as the late-'50s.

One last bit of learning about the industry you're involved in: The O.G. bodybuilder Eugen Sandow wrote about the benefits of "Plasmon" in the early-1900s, and that was basically an egg white or whey-based protein powder. Arthur Saxon wrote about bovril, a beef extract relatively-high in aminos, around the same time. So, yeah, supplements have always been part of the lifting game.


#6

Can't post a link, but a bunch of fairly well-known, and some pretty unknown, companies are in line to be targets of a class action lawsuit, including VPX, Body Fortress, and MusclePharm's Arnold Series (Marzouk, why not ask the man for his opinion on it when you meet him? That'll turn out great, I'm sure. Ha.).

Amino spiking is basically plugging individual aminos into a protein powder's mix in order to bump up the technical protein content even though they're not complete proteins. For a general/over-simplified example, a shady company might include 10 grams of whey protein and 5 grams of taurine, then label the product as having 15 grams of protein.


#7

Some supplements are helpful, depending on the individual and their goals. Absolutely.

BUT Google ChickenTuna She doesn't use supplements. NONE. Granted she's a woman, not a huge man. AND she's also been extremely dedicated in terms of diet and exercise over many years. More so than anybody I've seen, personally. And maybe she has rockin' genetics.

I'm not a big supplement person myself. Protein powder, BCAA's sporadically, vitamins, fish oil, and pre-workout caffeine. Would I do better if I was buying more supplements? Maybe. But I'm really happy with my progress. And my goals aren't to be HUGE. And I have kids that gotta go to college. :slight_smile:

What really bothers me is when people aren't eating adequate protein or working out on a regular basis, but are worried about their STACK. If you're eating wrong and not training, no STACK in the world is going to fix it. That doesn't mean there aren't lots of people who want to sell you a "magic pill."


#8

Thanks for the constructive response.

The initially post wasn't to debunk supplements, I use them pretty much everyday and I definitely know when I use them.

4g of Arginine seem to work wonders for me at the moment, I use Amino's full spectrum and BCAA and some kinda isolate/hydrolysate. One of my favourite supplements at the moment is ZMA / Zinc, really helps me sleep etc and I know when I've not taken it.


#9

We were recently approached to distribute a New protein who's tag line was being 80% protein which is the high end of whey powders. Unfortunately they made the mistake of putting the AMino profile on the label - 15g of glycine per 100g.

Talk about being spiked.

Often the big boys sneake glyicine and taurine in under a propriety blend under something like ' Amino Growth Matrix' or 'Anabolic Amino Blend' creatine is used as well. Seeing '5g of creatine' per serving may be seen as good thing until you realise that those 5g of creatine add up to about 15g of 'protein' per 100g.


#10

I'll have to look her up!

Basics like Multi-vits, fish oil and joint formulas are a given.

I had a young guy come into my store saying he wanted to get 'Huge' - Guy looked like he'd never lifted in his like but had been on Tri-Tren for 6 weeks and didn't know the difference protein and carbs... Jesus


#11

AH, Chickentuna... hadn't heard that name is ages. Glad she is still doing what she is doing.

And yes, too many people forget the definition of supplements. They don't do much if your diet is crap.

That "magic pill" was eaten by a unicorn eons ago.


#12

Chris,

I feel I misled with my initial post by quoting supplements that actually work i.e aminos and creatine.

My actually grips was with amino spiked proteins and other magical test booster like DAA , Bulbine etc which are marketed as being hyper anabolic etc.


#13

My staples are creatine monohydrate and fish oil (just bought krill oil for the first time after hearing some good things about it). With both of these supplements I never really notice the positive effects as they come on gradually, but if I stop them for a month I can tell. I'll lose a couple of reps at a given weight without creatine, and my skin gets dryer without the fish oil (I suffer from eczema and and this is the best, most obvious benefit I get from fish oil).

I take a multivitamin and don't really notice anything from it, but it can't do any harm.

I take a pre-workout containing 250mg of caffeine, BCAAs, and some other stuff. I bought this when I was doing a particularly strenuous programme and I like the caffeine kick, but I could definitely do without it and I'm not sure I'll buy any more when I run out.

Generally, when I place an order I'll try something new, and have tried thermogenics, HMB, fat burners, glutamine, BCAAs, L-carnitine L-tartarate, and a couple of other things. None of them are magic bullets, and my lifestyle isn't regimented enough to reliably control for their effect. Sometimes though, the fact that I'm taking these supps that I've spent money on helps me to be more disciplined in other areas such as junk food and booze.

As with my food, I buy from what I believe to be honest sources (that has included Biotest) and so hopefully avoid unscrupulous practices like amino spiking.


#14

I try to get the important things in supplement form first such as elitepro minerals, curcumin, fish oil, vitamin C, creatine, and protein powder. If I happen to have extra money the fancy stuff like Plazma and MAG-10 are nice. Not going to lie, I love a good pre workout. I just don't want to feel dependent on them to have a good session.


#15

I tried workout with and without supplements and I'm much happier using supplements. All I use are creatine and protein powder, but I've notice an improvement between using them and not using them. At the end of the day, you need to just see for yourself if supplements work for you. Not everyone responds to supplements the same way. I mostly eat a vegetarian diet so creatine had a greater effect on me. The same may be said about other supplements. Just because you try one doesn't necessarily discredit it. It might just not be working for your particular body.


#16

Health supplements for me are a necessity. Whenever I get bloodwork done unless I'm supplementing with vitamin D and Vitamin B12 my levels come back low.

Fish oil I've been taking since I've joined this site, never been off ever since but with all the positive research on omega 3's I just keep them in (Though I also eat 2-4 wild salmon filets daily).

I find superfood / green drink does generally make me feel good.

As for performance supps, I find it's not a bad idea to keep a pre workout around for whenever you get in periods of low motivation or low energy. I don't care who you are, if you've been lifting for years, you run into days or weeks where you just don't feel like training or your intensity has gone to shit. So keep a bottle of your favourite pre workout/intraworkout around for whenever this period hits you.


#17

There are so many supplements that work, that it is silly. The only reason individuals have problems with the supplements is that they do not read up on them, do not get good valid information, and do not use according to what will work the best for them. Acetyll L Carnitine is the example I like to use. 2 Or not more that three grams used, not all at the same time cause energy to be shuttled into the cells to be used. Result, your scale will show a weight loss and fat % goes down. High quality ALC can be purchased a wonderfully low price if we use our brains.

I first read about it years ago in Ironman, later is Dr. Whitaker's Health & Healing, and only then decided to give it a try. I still can't believe how well it worked for me. I also had 300 calorie Lean Cuisine for supper, an apple & prunes with supplements at 8:00P. And wound up very happy with the readings on my scale.

But then again, I'm just a 71 year olde man who does a lot of reading, with a highlighter available. And if I can learn how to make these things work, you have zero excuses available.

I also used Alpha Male from this site and it certainly worked!!


#18

Here what I would do and personally use: whey protein, multivitamin, fish oil, vitamin c, creatine monhydrate, zinc, and magnesium

Buy the cheapest for your money. Take creatine in with juice. Have vitamin c and fish oil at every meal (vit C lowers cortisol, which will keep testosterone high, fish reduces cellular inflammation, which will keep nutrients going into muscle cells and junk coming out= more muscle/fat burn). Zinc and magnesium just before bed on an empty stomach (other nutrients, esp. calcium take absorption prcedence over zinc, blocking it).


#19

I used to be someone who really thought supplements are just that: supplements. They "accompany" real food and can never replace them. That is what I USED to think.

I am already on record many many times via my posts that I have gone over almost exclusively to supplements for my protein intake. Been doing this for a couple years now, and I have never felt better, stronger, or leaner.

The protein I use? MAG-10 and Plazma. 3 - 4 MAG-10 everyday and 1 - 2 servings of Plazma periworkout in addition on training days. I DO eat solid food, but it is only 2 meals of the day and the protein amount is roughly 30 grams each time.

I used to eat ALOT more protein and food, but I simply can't anymore due to digestion issues that I really do attribute to massive eating for such a long time (decades). I am become a FIRM believer that optimal muscle growth/maintenance doesn't need the massive amounts of protein that has been preached for so long (and continues today)....but I do understand that everyone is different and everyone has a different minimum protein intake required for maximum muscle.

Now, if I were on steroids still, my ability to process a greater amount than what I have been currently using would be magnified. But when one is not using or no longer using, I am really starting to think it is pointless.

I was sort of forced into this eating pattern due to my unusually hectic work schedule that doesn't allow me to eat "proper" everyday. So I RELY on other supplements (all Biotest....I really am sold on the efficacy and quality of this company's products bar none...and I have used them all) like Superfood, ElitePro Minerals, and Flameout. MAG-10, Plazma, and these 'extras" are all I really need. My doctor checkups have never been better. My blood work is beautiful. My training is wonderful. I could not be happier.

Cost too much? When I compare my previous grocery bills (just for me mind you....my wonderful family adds on to the food costs) with my current diet regimen, I actually spend ALOT less.

Count me in now as one who is sold over on the value of supplements as real food.


#20

I've gone back and forth on the protein intake thing. Before when my gut was all messed up, I didn't think protein was as important as people made out, as every time my intake got close to the 1g/lb of bodyweight, I was just a diarrheic mess, particularly so if I tried to use whey to reach my target.

Having now gotten my digestion under control, I can tolerate a MUCH higher protein intake, including 2 or 3 whey shakes a day. I seem to be gaining faster but staying much leaner as I do it.

So yeah. I'm a big believer in protein supplementation these days. Trying to get 200g of protein a day from solid food just meant way too much of my diet involved eating protein, with little available for carbs and veg purely due to the amount of meat I had to eat. Now with the inclusion of shakes I can get way more carbs and veggies in.

I've also gotten a little more gross with my carb choices. Bacon, eggs, a protein shake and a big bowl of frosties is my go-to breakfast now. IIFYM, dawg.