Top 5 Supplements That Actually Work

Dietary supplement industry’s global sales for 2014 was estimated to be around $50 billion.

Funny thing is that most of those supplements don’t have any effect. That’s right, I said it. None. Zero. Zilch.

Most of those supps are just overhyped placebo pills with very weak research to back them up, but with brilliant marketing techniques to make them look like the cutting-edge, cuasi-miraculous, cure-for-everything (Dr. Oz’s Raspberry Ketones anyone?).

So today, we are going to talk about the top 5 supplements that we recommend to our clients and that, actually, do work (with extensive research to back them).

Disclaimer: Supplementation is NOT 100% necessary. When it comes to fitness/wellbeing/bodybuilding, supplements are on the very bottom of dietary hierarchy. Their role is to simply help or aid your nutrition. If all other aspects of your nutrition are not on point, none of the supplements on this list (or any other for that matter) will help you.

 

So, with that out of the way, the TOP 5 supplements:

1. Whey Protein

Whey should not be viewed as a supplement, it should rather be considered a food source, but it fits the category and it’s #1 on our list.

Whey Protein is protein isolated from milk. It’s #1 because IMHO it is the most practical way to fill your protein needs, without the added hassle of cooking (unlike meat or poultry).

It provides high quality aminoacids, with a BCAAs content of 25%. You should always look for it in its purest form, with the highest grams of protein per calorie and, if possible, with added leucine.

Recommended dosage: will depend on the rest of your daily diet and your personal preference.

One scoop of whey of most brands provides a solid 20-25 grams of protein, which you can either drink as a shake or add to your recipes (cupcakes, froyo, pancakes, etc.) and thus get the protein you need. You can have it any time of the day, it does NOT need to be pre, intra or post workout.

2. Fish Oil

Fish oil supps provides concentrated doses of Omega-3 fatty acids.

Omega 3 enhances general health, promotes fat oxidation and heart health. It improves blood pressure and triglycerides levels (Wei et al, 2011; Simopoulos, 2008)

It can also help with DOMS (Tratibian, 2009) and aid muscle mass building (Smith et al, 2011), sports performance, among others.

Recommended Dosage: Between 4-6 grams per day (spread through the day to reduce fish burp)

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3. Creatine Monohydrate

This is the most heavily evidence-backed supplement there is. It’s completely safe and have very few side effects (some may experience itching, but its rare) (Shao, 2006).

It’s great for anaerobic, dynamic and power-related activities (AKA, what you do in the gym).

It increases power output, endurance and performance when lifting weights (=mo’ gainz) (Dempsey et al, 2002; Branch, 2003). It’s ideal when you are building muscle mass, as it will increase intra-cellular water retention(Sadfar et al, 2008), which in turn will increase the size and appearance of your muscle.

Recommended dosage: 5 mg taken anytime during the day. Again, it does not need to be taken intra, pre or post workout as its effects are cumulative and not immediate.

4. Beta Alanine

B-Alanine is an aminoacid that has shown to improve muscular performance. It is a popular PWO supplement.

It works by reducing lactic acid effect in muscles. Lactic acid is a byproduct of metabolic stress related to muscular fatigue (Fitts, 1994). Besides, research shows that B-Alanine supplementation appears to reduce fatigue perception (Stout, 2007).

This means that you will be able to lift a tad more volume with the same intensity before fatigue sets in.

Recommended Dosage: 2-5gr anytime during the day, even though it is widely used as a PWO.

5. Citrulline Malate

Citruline is a precursor of arginine that is actually better than arginine supplements to increase arginine levels. It has many positive effects, from improving cardiovascular health (it’s used to treat impotency) to increasing muscular endurance (thus making it to this list, because gainz) (Pérez-Guisado et al, 2010)

Recommended dosage: 4-8 gr 1 hour before training.

BONUS: Caffeine

Caffeine is an excellent supplement, although sometimes it gets overlooked or misinterpreted. Even though it is sold -generally- as a fat burning supplement, it appears to fail at increasing fat oxidation in the long run.

Actually, its benefits are all about performance. As noted in this article by Coach Ally from SBS.

Said benefits range from improvement in cardiovascular endurance (Douglas et al, 2002) to anaerobic performance (Astorino et al, 2008).

As a supplement it is much more cost-effective to get it in pill form rather than energy drinks or brewed coffee beverages (Note: I love coffee though, so I do drink a nice cup with some milk and chocolate before training, lol).

It is important to note that research is mixed in this case, as Coach Ally says, some studies report improved performance and others not so much, and it seems to be dependent upon caffeine tolerance of each individual.

Recommended dosage: Dependent on the individual and adaptation wanted. It is best practice to test the outcome of a given dose and then increase it or decrease it, starting from a 100-200mg dose (~1 cup of black coffee). Performance related research uses 400mg+ doses.

To close, I just want to remind you one more time that all supplements (including these ones) account for a very little part of your diet and training outcome. You are going to get way better results by having every other aspect of your diet on point (caloric intake, macronutrient intake, micros and fiber, water and recovery) rather than spending your money on supplements whilst having a shitty diet.

 

-Coach Abe

 


Disclaimer #2: All info hereby presented has informational purposes only and it does not substitute for medical advice. Before using ANY supplement you must ask your head medical practitioner for approval.

All dosage information is based upon research provided by Examine.com

We are in no way related to any of the companies or brands depicted in this article’s pictures, and may not necessarily represent our brand preferences or suggestions. Said pictures serve as examples only.