I've never been a fan of supplements. During the first few years of lifting, I never had a legitimate reason for hating them.
It's like how Michael Scott hates Toby; he doesn't NEED a reason to hate Toby. I mean look at this guy:
With a simple glance, you can infer that Toby really ****ing sucks. Especially with the way he creeps on Pam while she's with Jim and how he has anger management issues.
...what was I talking about again? Oh right! Supplements.
After about 3 years of lifting, I finally started to try some different supplements and see if anything worked for me. In doing so, I ended up hating them anyway, but this time for legitimate reasons. Here are the reasons why I'm not a fan, even now, of most supplements:
- Products contain ingredients that can readily be found in food
- Marketing methods give consumers false expectations
- Lack of regulation raises questions over if the products contain what they claim
- Most supplements are promoted by fitness models using steroids
That about sums up my genuine complaints with supplements. But I've been viewing things differently as of late. Maybe there is a purpose for supplements.
For example: food poverty is a serious problem in the United States. Rather than spending money on healthy food day in and day out, someone impoverished might benefit financially from spending $30 per month for a premiere multi-vitamin.
In a perfect world, everybody would just eat nutritious food all day. But that's not easy to do, especially when people aren't as financially well off as others.
Furthermore, food isn't made the way that it was 50+ years ago. GMOs have become common in food prepared from your local deli to the supermarket in town. You could buy and eat organic every day, but it can be time consuming to prepare some organic meals (poultry, meat and fish, for example).
I'm going to throw out 2 supplements that genuinely do help and are hard to obtain from just your diet.
Creatine is the best muscle building supplement out there. Having disappointed with countless other supplements (BCAAs, preworkout, whey protein, etc.) over the years, I'm proud to still be taking this one.
In theory you could obtain this supplement from food. However, creatine is only found in stake and fish. Not only are these foods that should not be eaten every day, but in order to obtain the necessary creatine levels for your body, you need to eat a lot of it: I'm talking 2 - 3 lbs of steak or fish DAILY just to ingest 5 grams of creatine monohydrate.
Honestly you might gain 5 lbs of lean body mass just from taking a daily dose of 3 - 5 grams. It really works; I'm definitely nearly 5 lbs heavier when I use it as opposed to when I don't. Some would argue a lot of this is just retained water, but I've seen the strength differences in the gym (my Bench Press, for example, is 3 - 4 reps higher when I'm using creatine compared to when I'm not).
Some people are concerned that the water retention could make your muscles (particularly your abs) appear less defined. This just isn't the case; check out this photo:
I didn't touch this one up, unlike some that I put on Instagram. As you can see, the abs are quite visible and veins are all over my arms and forearms. If anything, I look better with creatine than without it.
I personally get creatine from a product sold by Legion Athletics called "Recharge" and it's been effective so far.
Omega 3s are an essential part of any healthy diet. The vast majority of people are deficient in these fatty acids, and it's a shame since Omega 3s can provide the following benefits:
- Cardiovascular health problems
- Reduction of muscle and joint inflammation
- Lower cholesterol levels
- Improving emotional well being
- Increased mental focus and learning
- More muscle
- Less body fat
Clearly Omega 3s rock! They go far beyond your body composition and influence a whole host of factors related to your health.
Now there are actually 3 different types of Omega 3s:
- Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)
- Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
- Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
DHA and EPA are more important for consumption. ALA can be found in nuts, eggs, and plants whereas DHA and EPA are found in fish. To a small extent, ALA can be converted into DHA and EPA by your body, but this shouldn't be the expectation if you consume only ALA in your diet.
Furthermore, to obtain sufficient Omega 3s in your diet, it's hard to obtain it simply from food. Like I mentioned in the section on creatine above, however, you shouldn't be consuming fish every day. I suppose you could eat walnuts and chia seeds every day to hit the appropriate level, but again, that's ALA; DHA and EPA are superior in terms of how they're utilized by the body.
This brings us to how effective an Omega 3 supplement can be for you. I personally have been using "Triton" from Legion Athletics, and I'm quite satisfied so far. It provides adequate levels of DHA and EPA without giving you a bad aftertaste.
There you have it; 2 supplements that actually do something for you. These two aside, I would really make it a priority to get the same benefits of supplements from real food. Drink 16 ounces of coffee instead of taking preworkout... eat eggs daily instead of whey protein.
Is there a supplement you think should have been mentioned above? Do you totally disagree with these 2 I mentioned? Leave your thoughts below!