This piece will serve as a continuation of this article: 4 useless supplements you shouldn’t invest in. As with many things in the fitness industry, bashing supplements has become a trend. While I primarily agree that most supplements are useless, I am a firm believer that there is a still a plethora of beneficial supplements out there. With that said, those potentially useful supplements should be recommended based on an individual’s needs, goals, circumstances, and lifestyle. There is no one size fits all. Without further ado, let’s begin.
#1- Fish oil / Omega 3
If I had to recommend one supplement, it would be fish oil. It’s no secret western diets are rich in pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids. To compound that effect, western diets also lack omega-3 anti-inflammatory fatty acids. Combine those two and you end up with a pro-inflammatory diet that will wreak havoc on your health. As I explained before, it’s not just about how much omega-3 fatty acids you consume, but it’s about the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids. A healthy ratio/balance is key to keeping central inflammation down. As soon as you get inflammation in check, every single function in your body will improve, including fat loss and protein synthesis. Contrary to widespread belief, the better the function the better you’ll look. The only problem with fish oil supplements is the fact that many of them are contaminated with foreign substances and heavy metals. Due to that reason, I’d highly suggest you get pharmaceutical grade fish oil (lovaza). If pharma grade fish oil is out of your reach, there is an abundance of ultra-filtered fish oil supplements that you can get over the counter. Don’t cheap out on your health.
Frankly, I don’t consider protein powder to be a supplement; however, I like to think of it as a convenience food. Due to our fast-paced lifestyles, we don’t always have the luxury of cooking our own meals. Sometimes we can’t even stop by a place to buy a meal! Work, school, homework, kids and many other life things will usually interfere with your ability to sit down and eat a well-balanced meal. Because of those circumstances, reaching our daily protein targets can and will be difficult sometimes. This is when protein powder shows up to save your day. The thought of mixing two heaping scoops of chocolate-flavored protein powdered with a cup of milk sounds like the easiest thing ever. Best of all, you’ll end up gulping down a nice, delicious, and protein-rich shake that will help you reach your daily protein target, and thus build muscle, preserve muscle, and/or lose fat. Sometimes, I feel too lazy to get up and cook a meal. Hell, sometimes I just want to sip on a chocolate-rich protein-rich shake, and nothing will serve me better than protein powder. In essence, protein powder isn’t necessary to reach your goals, but it can help you through rough times, laziness, and times of cravings.
#3- Joint supplements
It’s a bit surprising to me that no one seems to recommend joint supplements anymore. Not sure if this is another trend or what. In my opinion, investing in a high quality joint supplement can help protect you from potential injuries and even speed up recovery from an injury. Exercise, especially weightlifting is great and all, but squatting 500 pounds will eventually take a toll on your knees (just an example). Yes, joints and tendons do adapt to imposed stress and get thicker in response, but even the smallest flaw in your technique can injure you faster than you think. No one is immune to injuries, no matter how “perfect” your form is -or think it is-. After getting injured several times, I started investing in high quality joint supplements to heal my joints rapidly and help protect me from other potential injuries. Guess what? So far, it’s been one of the best investments ever. My only regret is not taking care of my joints earlier. If you want to live a long and pain-free life, invest in a joint supplement. Especially if you plan on committing to lifting weights. Look for joint supplements that contain the following ingredients:
- Cissus quadrangularis
Creatine is probably the best natural ergogenic aid ever! Creatine is just f*cking awesome. I’ve already written an extensive article on creative, but because it’s so awesome, I cannot emphasize how useful it is. Thus, I decided to feature it on this article one more time. If you are looking for that one natural elixir that will help you get strong and jacked, look no further and go pick up some creatine.
Caffeine is one of those ancient ingredients that has withstood the test of time. Despite the fancy pre-workout culture that has spread faster than the plague, it’s no surprise that caffeine is usually the main ingredients in those energy boosting elixirs. Yes, there are other equally effective stimulants; however, caffeine is still the best stimulant ever. Call me biased, but it is. All you need to do is look around and quantify the number of people that drink a caffeinated beverage daily, and you’ll understand my perspective. Caffeine is powerful, has almost no side effects (all mild and temporary), cheap, and delicious (coffee, anyone?). Instead of spending hundreds of dollars on pre-workouts in fancy containers, just go to your local supplement store and pick up some super cheap caffeine pills/tablets. Thank me later. When you need that extra physical and mental edge, caffeine will come in handy.
#6- Multivitamin / Greens
The importance of a high-quality diet comprised of whole foods cannot be emphasized enough. Reaching your goals isn’t just about hitting your macro targets, but it’s also about consuming adequate amounts of micronutrients. I hope your diet is already spot on and includes an abundance of vegetables, especially dark leafy greens, and fruits. If your diet is sub-par, your results will be sub-par. There is no way around it. This is where multivitamins come into play. Once again, because of strange lifestyles, eating whole foods all the time is usually impossible. Or maybe you are having one of those days where you intend on ordering some food. Going over family’s house for dinner? No problem. Just pop some multivitamins and make the best out of whatever food choices you have access to. Keep in mind that multivitamins are not meant to substitute a healthy diet. However, if your diet isn’t 100% for whatever reason, I highly recommend a multivitamins supplement. Another equally-good option is greens powders. In fact, I prefer the latter to the former. If you are not familiar with green powders, they’re simply green leafy vegetables in powder form. This way, you’re getting the best of both worlds; 1) Consuming leafy green vegetables. 2) Consuming micronutrients.
#7- Herbal Test Boosters
The good old test boosters! Test boosters are generally regarded useless. And rightfully so. Mainly because most people interested in using them are teenagers and guys in their twenties who believe they will gain tons of mass from using a test booster. Listen buddy, you already have tons of testosterone to run on. A test booster will make you hornier at best. No, it won’t put 10 pounds of muscle on your frame within 4 weeks like that GNC associate promised you. And no, it won’t get you shredded yesterday! With that said, herbal test boosters can come in handy for a certain segment of the population. That segment is old folks. If you are 40 and above, you can invest in a test booster, but don’t expect anything magical. In fact, contrary to what many 40-year olds believe, your testosterone levels might be super high! I have seen it with my own eyes. Thus, the only way to confirm low testosterone would be a blood test. This is beyond the scope of this article, though. Before you think you’ll get magical results from an herbal test booster, allow me to point out what a good test booster could do for you:
- Boost libido
- Boost sexual ability
- Improve sleep
- Enhance mood
- Slightly faster fat loss
- Slightly better recovery from workouts
- Slight increase in strength
- MAYBE an increase in LBM (nothing substantial, if any)
This is it! You won’t put on slabs of muscle or lose all your fat overnight. Also, look for the following ingredients:
- Vitamin D
- Eurycoma Longifolia (Tongkat Ali/Long Jack)
- Stinging Nettle Root
- Mucuna Pruriens
- Maca Root (Only for sex drive)
In essence, when it comes to supplements, I don’t like being on either side of the spectrum. They are not all useless, and they’re not all beneficial. This list of beneficial supplements covers everything you might need now or in the future. Aside from vitamins and mineral deficiencies that could be corrected wit OTC supplements, I believe this list has it all.