Supplements for Starters
By Bob Kupnieski
When it comes to making a proper supplement stack the first thing some individual’s lack is knowledge on supplements and what they do. First of all supplements are things that are there to help reach your goals on top of a good diet and training program hence the word “Supplement”. Most people think that all the pills and powders on the market are to be miracle drugs and will give you insane results when in reality the only thing to do that would be things that may be considered “Illegal” or “non natural”. Most people will read a magazine and see a pro taking this or that and think “oh man I need to get that because he takes it” when in reality those individual do not have a clue on what they do, their benefits, or an optimal way to take them. In this article I am going to break it down to 4 supplements that I consider “Staples” and something everyone should take once they understand diet and training (which you can refer to in my other articles), and then using these products to help reach micronutrient goals, vitamins, minerals, and staple things to help reach your protein intake, and aid in strength, performance, and endurance.
The first supplement I consider a staple is a Whey protein. Whey protein has been on the market for way over a decade now and has grown leaps and bounds in price. With the cost of raw materials they have skyrocketed due to the overall price to produce, put through QC/Stability testing, and making a legit product that is not loaded or spiked with low grade amino’s or BCAA’s to make up a false label count. While I am on that topic the one thing I would suggest before we talk about whey is making sure you do your research on the brand you want to buy, and also sticking to a safe flavor (such as vanilla or chocolate) which are the #1 and #2 sellers on the market. Some of the brands out there if you do a google search on “Taurine/Glycine” can be identified to those who may be using those fillers or low grade ingredients to make up their protein intake and also not match their label claims. There have been various companies that have been notified of this and the only way to make sure a company is legit is to know their COA or 3rd party test certifies their product matches their label claim. If a company cannot support a COA/3rd Party vendor test for their product take caution!
Now what makes Whey protein a staple supplement? Well for the most part not everyone has all the time in the world to eat every single meal with whole foods. This is where Whey protein comes in and is great for those to help “Supplement’ their protein intake and reach their protein intake via a powder instead of whole foods. Now when you are in a pinch say between a meeting, at work and do not have a fridge/microwave this may be a good time to utilize your whey protein. Easily it can be thrown into a shaker bottle and just add milk or water, or what I like to do with it and mix with a small 6oz yogurt to make a pudding or “Sludge” which can be topped with berries, fruits, or rice cakes/cereal’s to give it a little crunch. Just a quick example or way that you can utilize whey protein when you cannot get a whole food meal in. Now how much is too much? Well I personally would try to reach as much protein as possible from whole foods first and foremost there is far more micronutrients and vitamins/minerals compared to a very heavily processed powder. If you need 2-3 scoops due to your work schedule or just how it suits your schedule by all means that is fine. Just remember it is a supplement it should not make up the 100% intake of your diet, but try to reach as many whole foods as possible!
Supplement number two that I would recommend would be a multi-vitamin. While many people may not get a lot of their vitamins/minerals from whole foods or a variety of foods this will be a great way to help restore vitamins, minerals, and micronutrients that cannot be reached in a 24 hour period due to the intake of your diet, food, or overall calories. One reason why I feel a multi has such importance is think about an individual who may be on a low caloric intake, or cutting for a competition or a photo shoot. Their caloric intake will not allow them such a huge variety in food sources or variety therefore they may be deficient in many things such as vitamin a, vitamin d, potassium, calcium, and many other vitamins/minerals. When you are so low on intake you are going to really shelter yourself to things that fill you up compared to being able to eat various carb sources, include many other fat sources or protein sources that are fattier (such as beef for saturated fat) which is good to have and can help balance your omega 3/6/9 levels + saturate, mono, and polyunsaturated levels.
On the other hand some people do not like to eat such a variety of foods and like a daily meal plan or set plan where they limit themselves to say 8-9 different food sources just for simplicity or because that is what suits them. This is fine, but remember not branching out and trying other sources may negate the vitamins, minerals, and micronutrients you will get in your diet. This is where supplements come in such as a multi or other things like Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Magnesium, Zinc etc which you can buy. For those in a surplus (not cutting or trying to lose weight) those individuals usually eat such a large amount or a broad amount of foods that they can cover a lot more vitamins, minerals, and micronutrients compared to the individual that may be on a select amount of calories and really have to select their sources to a less degree due to caloric intake, so you can see the stance from multiple angles on why getting in proper micronutrients will be key because not everyone has the ability to eat such a diverse diet as there may be some food allergies, intolerances that limit us from our selections of foods.
The third most important supplement I would bring up is Fish-Oil. The main reason is not everyone does eat fish, and not everyone will reach proper Omega 3 intake in a given day hence the need to supplement with them. Fish oils also have a positive effect on your health that show the reduction of atherosclerosis, reducing chronic inflammation, plus there is help towards depression from adequate fish oil intake. There has also been researching showing the benefits towards brain function, vision, mood, and overall joint health when taking in adequate amounts of EPA/DHA from fish oil brands and supplements. Studies have shown small improvements in body composition and also fat loss with the supplementation of omega 3 fish oil intake. Lets not forget there was also a study done in 2011 that showed an increase in muscle protein synthesis (MPS) by Michael Rennie over prolonged periods of time with adequate dosing. What is a good fish oil brand and how much should you take? Most studies or those who research fish oils will tell you to aim for around 2-3g of EPA/DHA total or at least 2g of EPA and 1.5g of DHA. You can simply tell the amount by reading the label on the brand you buy. There are only a few out there which have been researched and also those who have been 3rd party tested which is why I stick by Oxi-omega by Controlled labs as they are a great company that gives you a very affordable product.
Last but not least Creatine. While many people kind of look at this product and think why? Well let me tell you first of all it is dirt cheap, but will not be the best tasting thing as all bulk powders are never really the best tasting things. Lets face it, for the price you can almost get 1000g worth for around 20$ and those brands I would suggest would be Cellucor, Primaforce, Allmax, Universal, or ON in bulk monohydrate form. Why Monohydrate? Because it is the only studied creatine on the market that has been proven and true. You can do your own research by reading plenty of articles by Layne Norton on bodybuilding.com or his king creatine article which is packed with information. How do you dose creatine? What are its side effects, and how will it benefit me?
First of all many people will tell you that you need to load or cycle creatine which in fact is not true. If you take creatine over time you body will soon saturate itself and reach its peak ATP levels within a month of dosing 5g on workout days at least 3x a week (up to 5x a week is fine). Once you take it for a month you could reduce to 3g on workout days, but 3-5g is more than enough a few times a week to keep it in your system. Another thing you will hear is that creatine causes water retention and bloating which is another false statement. Creatine is not stored outside the cells it is stored within the cells making it “Intra-cellular” and actually going to aid you in performance, endurance, and strength gains regardless of your goal. You will also not a lot of competitors regardless of bodybuilding, bikini, or figure, physique etc will all take this up all the way through their shows to look their best on stage. As always I would suggest intaking 1 gallon of water a day (as I outline in my diet articles) to help really help keep the water flowing through your system and being hydrated especially during the hot summer where that can become a problem and dehydration could occur.
Creatine is used to help increase ATP regeneration and adenosine diphosphate (ADP). These are major energy currency, which help power the cellular processes. Because of this your body will distribute your caloric intake (protein, carbs, and fats) to produce ATP which creatine can help increase. This helps provide ATP and energy to a greater degree to provide better workouts, recovery, stamina, and endurance for those sessions and increase strength. Plenty of studies will show increases in body mass, body composition, muscle mass, lean body mass.
Overall these are my suggestions for a great beginning stack of supplements. While many people want to reach for things like HMB, BCAA’s, L-Carn, LCLT and all of those other things out there on the market, they have their place but are not as essential as what I have outlined above. Hopefully the information above will help you save your money, shorten your supplement stack, and keep you focused on your workout and diet and making the best progress to date!