(Editor’s note: This week’s entry is a guest post by SJ from IgnoreLimits.com. SJ brings us his honest opinion on which of the few supplements out there actually worked for his purposes.)
I’ve spent more money on supplements than I care to remember. When I started out at a mere 135lbs I wasn’t as focused on my workout regime or diet as I should’ve been… instead I spent the majority of time (and money!) in my local supplement shop, I was looking for the quick fix… the one supplement that would simultaneously assist me in burning fat and stacking on slabs upon slabs of lean muscle mass at the same time.
Let me tell you now, there is no magic supplement. The supplement industry is full of over the top marketing, sceptical studies and empty promises.
Testosterone boosters, amino acids, protein blends, proprietary pre-workouts, deer antler extract… I’ve tried it all.
Over the years there have been a few supplements that I have become quite fond of and do take regularly because they’re no BS and they offer me tangible benefits.
Here’s what works for me:
Whey Protein Powder
If you want to pack on some lean muscle mass you’re going to need protein – how you get this is up to you, as I lead a busy lifestyle getting in 200+ grams of protein from whole foods such as chicken breast, steak, eggs etc. is quite a struggle.
Whey protein powder (WPC – whey protein concentrate) allows me to reach my daily macronutrient goals while I’m out and about kicking ass. At the end of the day your body, in terms of body composition – is only concerned regarding the macronutrients you’re in taking. 100 grams of protein from whey protein powder will be absorbed and utilized in the same manner as 100 grams of protein derived from a boiled chicken breast.
When purchasing protein the key is to examine the macronutrient profile e.g.
- How big is 1 scoop?
- What percentage of this scoop is protein (80%, 90%?)
- How many grams of protein are there per scoop?
- How many grams of carbohydrates are there per scoop?
- How many grams of fat are there per scoop?
Proprietary matrices, whey protein isolate and blends of different forms of protein are all going to cost you more and will provide you with no additional (noticeable) benefits.
(Ed.: check out Mike’s (Danger & Play) post on amino spiking for more information on crap protein)
Stick with the basics and don’t allow yourself to get sucked in to the big advertising campaigns of the supplement giants.
My DIY Pre Workout Blend
I spent 3 years purchasing over the counter pre-workout supplements. As soon as I realized how basic and under dosed the ingredients were, I refused to spend my hard earned cash on them again.
If you want to experience laser focus and endurance while keeping to a budget I recommend making your own pre-workout, the ingredients are incredibly simple and the dosages are easy to measure.
As I delved into in my article ‘How To Make Your Own Pre-Workout Supplement At Home’ I’ve found the winning combination to be:
Caffeine – 200 – 350mg (depending on your tolerance to stimulants)
- Caffeine is a stimulant that increases muscle endurance & improves mental focus.
Beta Alanine – 5g
- Beta Alanine is a naturally occurring amino acid that reduces fatigue and induces a ‘tinging’ feeling.
Creatine – 5g
- Creatine Monohydrate is one of the most well researched and documented supplements on the planet, creatine is an amino acid that can assist us in increasing lean muscle mass and gaining strength.
Citrulline Malate – 8g
- Citrulline is an amino acid used to stimulate the production of Nitric Oxide which increases blood flow to the muscles resulting in that full, pumped feeling when lifting. Citrulline also has been proven to relieve muscular soreness and increase endurance.
My Fat Loss Stack
When I’m in a calorie deficit with the intention of shredding into the single digit body fat range I take a very basic yet effective fat loss stack incorporating:
Taking these in the early morning followed by early afternoon assists in slightly boosting the rate at which calories are spent while suppressing your appetite at the same time thanks to the green tea extract.
Keeping It Healthy… Liquid Greens
I’ve been taking a form of liquid greens for just over a year now and I highly recommend them.
Most guys out there are wasting their money on over the counter “testosterone boosters” that do absolutely nothing except induce acne.
Instead of wasting your m0ney on gimmicky supplements like the aforementioned in the hope that they’ll magically boost your testosterone levels, you can invest in a supplement like Greens Formula which provides your body with a plethora of vitamins and minerals which your body may be deficient in.
Chances are the quality of nutrients derived from this organic formula are much higher than those you’re actually getting via your diet (assuming you’re not overly strict on the quality of your food, how organic it is etc.).
A scoop or two liquid greens will provide your body with more vitamins, minerals and antioxidants than you could get by eating a salad or large bowl of fruit with every meal.
I can honestly say after taking my liquid greens each morning upon waking, my skin is much clearer and I definitely have a higher level of energy without having to resort to my potent pre-workout formula.
Closing Thoughts, The Best Supplement Ever & Realistic Expectations
Supplements are just that, supplements.
They are designed to assist in filling in the gaps in your diet and provide a slight edge when used in conjunction with a solid training regime (I’m a big advocate of heavy compound movements in the 4 – 6 rep range for natural gym goers) and a well planned diet.
If you’re a newcomer and you’re looking to get the maximum bang for your buck out of your workouts I cannot stress the importance of proper nutrition enough.
Eat well and supplement as you see fit with my above recommendations, you won’t be disappointed with the results.