“Get ripped in two weeks with the SuperShred-69 fat burner!... And don’t forget to use my promo code.”
-J. Swollzz, Instagram Fitness Model
Ever tried a fat burner? How’d that work for ya? Most everyone has tried some type of fat burner, detox, etc. expecting dramatic results...and…..nothing.
The problem is, supplement industry is crazy good at selling on the idea that “the thing” is out there somewhere. The thing? You know, the thing that’s finally gonna get you the body you want, without having to put in years of hard work and consistency.
Does “the thing” really exist?
Truth is, most supplements do little to nothing. Really, any legal supplement isn’t going to make a big difference in your physique. As far as order of importance for changing your body, supplements are the last thing you should worry about. The change you’ll get from a supplement is minuscule, at best.
- Calorie intake in alignment with your goals
- Training consistently
- Sleeping 7-9 hours per night
- Lots of daily movement
- Managing stress
- Proper macronutrient intake
That being said, are there any supplements that are worth the money?
*A Note On Proprietary Blends:
Supplement labels often include “proprietary blends”. This allows for the total amount of ingredients in the blend to be listed, while leaving the exact amount of each individual ingredient unspecified. Taking supplements containing proprietary blends is much more likely to be a health hazard.
Finally, do your own research. The following is purely informative, not a recommendation. It’s up to you to determine if a supplement is safe to take. Ok, onto supplements that are potentially worth your money.
Creatine is an extremely well researched supplement, with the most effective form being creatine monohydrate.
Our bodies use creatine phosphate for as a fuel source for the first few seconds of intense or explosive movement/exercise. Think of supplementing with creatine as “topping off the tank”. It allows you to maintain high-intensity exercise for slightly longer.
This means an increase in strength, and overall workload you’re able to handle in the gym, equating to building more muscle. (1)
That being said, the effects of creatine are far from “steroid-like”, but it is a proven supplement to aid building muscle and strength.
Recommended dose: 3-5g/day
We’re all well-versed in/potentially addicted to this one.
Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant. Although considered a psychoactive drug, its use is extremely common and mostly unregulated.
Of all the supplements on this list, caffeine has by far the most noticeable effects. Not only does caffeine boost mood, alertness and mental clarity, it also has some real benefits to your workouts.
Research shows that caffeine decreases perceived effort, increases power output, and improves endurance. (2)(3)(4)
Not that you needed an excuse for more caffeine, but it’s a real performance booster.
Recommended Dose: 200-400mg/day
If you’re able to hit your daily protein requirements entirely from whole foods, there’s no need to use a protein powder. Protein powders are lacking many of the micronutrients that quality, whole food protein sources will have.
But, if you’re struggling to meet your daily protein requirements, supplementing with a protein powder can be helpful.
Whey protein and casein proteins have the best amino acid profiles of available protein powders. They're the easiest for your body to absorb and use. It’s debatable which is superior. The body digests whey protein quicker than casein protein.
Whey and casein protein are derivatives of milk. If animal products are a no-go for you: pea or rice proteins have the best amino acid profiles.
Recommended Dose: Varies
Getting all of your micronutrients from whole foods is ideal.
Ideal, but not always realistic. Taking a multivitamin is a good way to ensure your daily micronutrient needs are met.
Recommended Dose: Varies. Follow daily recommendation for your multivitamin
We obtain vitamin D naturally through food and sunlight.
The issue? Most of us don’t get enough time in the sun, and the amount of vitamin D is negligible in most foods outside of fatty fish. As a result, vitamin D deficiency is extremely common
Taking a vitamin D or Cod liver oil supplement can be extremely helpful in preventing this deficiency.
Recommended Dose: 1,000-2,000 IU per day
Beta-alanine is a non-essential amino acid. Supplementing with it has been shown to improve muscular endurance for exercise lasting longer than 1-minute, and less than 4 minutes.
It’s not super common that your straight sets in the gym will hit this timeframe, so beta-alanine will have the most carryover to high-rep sets, supersets, and even high-intensity interval type training.
This was a fringe pick. The effect beta-alanine has is pretty small. Nonetheless, it’s been proven to make a slight difference in performance.
Recommended Dose: 4g/day
Some supplements really can help increase performance, or be beneficial in hitting your nutrient needs. Just don’t get caught up in the minutiae of things like supplements, and forget to focus on the things that really make a difference when it comes to changing your body.