Trying to decide what supplements are actually worth your money and which are overhyped junk is like navigating a landmine field on a pogo stick. While each person’s individual needs are unique to their age, gender, activity type, goals, etc. this is a list of what I currently utilize as part of my nutritional plan. Please keep in mind that supplements are used in conjunction with a balanced whole food diet and won’t rectify a poor diet. I am not a medical professional and any changes to your diet or products used should be discussed with your doctor or medical care professional. However, here are some of the products I find useful for my needs and why I take each.
My Training Style
I am a male in my mid-30s who competes in amateur strongman. My workouts are designed to help me be healthy, flexible, energetic, aesthetic, and strong. My training style includes a combination of bodybuilding type isolation exercises, compound multi-joint movements, steady state cardio, and explosive athletic movements. Strongman requires you to not only be strong at picking up odd shaped objects but also requires speed, agility, and endurance for high exertion activities.
I start my day with a multivitamin to cover any holes I may have in my nutrition. While I eat a fairly balanced diet full of whole foods with plenty of produce and a variety of protein sources we all are probably lacking in certain key nutrients from time to time. A multivitamin is a quick and easy way to cover your bases especially when cutting your calories while dieting. I’ve included 2 gummy variations and a traditional swallow version for both men and women.
The Smarty Pants brand offers more vitamins and includes some Omega 3s in their mix providing a bit more nutrition per serving when compared to the Vitafusion. However, a serving is 6 gummies resulting in 45 calories per serving. The Vitafusion version is cheaper and clocks in at 15 calories per serving of 2 gummies. Lastly, the Optimum Nutrition are zero calorie and provide a similar nutrition profile to the Smarty Pants brand gummies.
|Smarty Pants||VitaFusion||Optimum Nutrition|
I take biotin to help assist with calloused hands and to help keep my hair healthy. If you’ve ever torn open a callous in the gym then you know how much of a pain it can be. Combined with the fact that you are may be showering more often due to your gym sessions your hair can take a beating from the frequent washes. Increased lifting can also accelerate the impact of male pattern baldness if you have a genetic propensity towards it. Biotin is a relatively safe way to help ensure your hair, skin, and nails stay healthy and bouncing back after your workouts.
I only take vitamin D supplements during the winter months or when I cannot reasonably fulfill my daily needs through time in direct sunlight. It’s usually a good idea to get your vitamin D levels checked during your annual bloodwork to see if you are deficient in this supplement. A large portion of the population is deficient in this especially those who live in northern climates during winter months where sun exposure is minimal. Having low vitamin D can contribute to a number of ailments including depression, joint pain, chronic exhaustion, and more.
While products such as Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) and Essential Amino Acids (EAAs) are advertised by most fitness influencers they have little science to back up their effectiveness. BCAAs contain the 3 amino acids leucine, isoleucine, and valine. Essential amino acids include these 3 amino acids along with the remaining 6 essential amino acids that our body needs to obtain through our diet. However, as long as you eat a complete protein source prior to working out you will get the same effect. Typically any animal based protein source such as meat, dairy, or eggs will give you all 9 of the essential amino acids needed.
Instead of aminos in my water bottle I prefer to add an electrolyte supplement. Each brand seems to dose differently and some brands can get expensive when you factor in how much each serving is costing you. Nuun sport offers a cost effective way to add in some electrolytes and a mild flavoring to your water to help ensure you stay hydrated during your intense workouts. The product comes in tablet form that makes it convenient for tossing in your gym bag and adding to your water bottle. With electrolytes keep in mind that these often contain magnesium which when ingested orally in large doses can act as a laxative. Consuming too much magnesium, especially if you are getting magnesium in other supplements like pre-workout, can cause you to experience diarrhea.
My post workout shake consists of around 50 grams of protein mixed with almond milk and water. I achieve this by mixing 1 and 1 half scoops of whey protein powder with 1 full scoop of collagen peptides. While the effects of collagen are open for debate I do not experience tendon and ligament pain after intense workouts since adding this to my post workout shake. It displaces half a scoop of whey protein powder and at around $0.60-$0.70 per shake it’s a fairly cheap addition.
In terms of protein I go with whatever name brand is currently the best deal. Consider grams of protein per contain when comparing brands. Some cheaper brands have been caught spiking their products with cheaper ingredients to cut costs which is why I tend to stick to major name brands. Isopure is a more expensive brand but it contains multivitamins which can help replenish nutrients lost during intense workouts. For this reason some people might prefer to pay a bit more for that added benefit. Below are some of the varieties that I use on a regular basis.
Lastly, I consume some post workout electrolytes to help replenish my body with what I lost during my workout. I’ve found that FitAid seems to work best with helping me optimize my recovery especially after hot summer workouts.