Monday, July 26, 2010

Supplement Strategies



I’ve been asked to blog more about supplements so I’ll start with a post on what I take and why. As many of you know, I’m referred to as Beachbody’s white mouse; meaning everything we make gets tested on me first. But I don’t just test what we make. A lot of what I test ends up on the cutting room (or is it bathroom?) floor.

Over the years I’ve tried hundreds, if not thousands, of supplements. My impression is that supplements are over-hyped and most are a waste of money. There are, however, cornerstones that I use as part of my daily diet and an occasional supplement I find vital for max performance in a given situation. The problem with supplements is that we hype them the same way we do drugs. They are not drugs. The upside to this is that it’s VERY hard to hurt yourself with supplements. The down side is that our expectations tend to be too high.

Supplements are food, or condensed food. Most can be consumed in their natural state and, if we ate well, many would be unnecessary. While this means they tend to be safe it also means we don’t “need” them. However, using proper supplementation strategy can help us live healthier and perform better, especially when we train hard and even more importantly when we’re dieting and exercising.

I break my supplements into basics and situational. Basic supplements are things I take pretty much all the time. Situational are those I use depending on what I’m doing. Let’s look at these first. In the same way that your diet should reflect what you are doing, so should the supplements you take.

For example, two of the most proven supplements in history are creatine monohydrate and 4 parts carb to one part protein recovery formulations. Neither are daily tonics. They are for given situations. Creatine is useful when you’re training hard and trying to build muscle or anaerobic strength. If those are not your goals it’s not only a waste but can interfere with your diet by encouraging your body to retain water to increase cell volume. Recovery formulations are only for when your glycogen stores are extinguished which takes hard exercise or starvation. No one eating well and exercising 30 minutes a day or less would ever need a recovery formulation. In fact, it would be terrible for you. However, when your training hard, eating lean, and using up your body’s limited glycogen stores the stuff is more valuable than gold.

Basics are things you should take everyday, like food. Since it came out Shakeology is on the top of my list. It’s like a healthy insurance policy in a glass.

I begin every morning with three Joint Support Formula capsules, one Core Cal Mag, two Omegas, and an Activit tablet. At night I take another Cal/Mag tablet and a vitamin with my Shake. I look at this group of supplements as part of my diet and nothing more.

Besides situational supplements that I know work I’m often playing my white mouse role by experimenting with something new or different. Currently it’s this protocol, and the jury is still out on what I think of it. My next block of training (experimenting with The Workout From Hell) is going to include something different, which I’ll report on if it’s effective. I’m also playing around with coconut oil and chia seeds. The latter is just a food but hasn’t become a staple yet. I think it will become so. I’m not yet as sure about coconut oil’s status as medium chain triglyceride. As fall rolls around and I begin to care more about my performance I’ll stop experimenting and revert back to proven supplements that work for whatever my goals are.

24 comments:

InsaneXer said...

What is the right age to start taking creatine? I try to stay away from it.

jay said...

Why do you like Chia?

Steve Edwards said...

I'll post in chia at some point. Check it out. The phytonutrient profile is off the charts and in my testing (about a year now)I'm finding it a fantastic performance food. Particularly for endurance.

Steve Edwards said...

Insane, like I said in chat you probably wouldn't benefit yet. Creatine is not dangerous but I just don't think it would help at your age. 16 is probably the earliest it could benefit someone if they were training hard but I'm not really sure even then. You could run some tests with it and see. It should only be used in cycles anyway.

Anonymous said...

More on chia:

Nutritionally, chia is 20% protein, 34% oil, and 25% fiber. It is not a complete protein, as it lacks the essential amino acid taurine. Its fat is primarily ALA, the same type of fat found in flaxseed. It is not a complete omega-3; in other words, it can be used as a substitute for flaxseed oil, but not for fish oil; you still need a DHA source. Its omega-6 to omega-3 ratio is about 3 to 1.

Two benefits to chia are that it does not need to be ground like flax does in order to gain its health benefits, and it does not go rancid as easily as flax. One major disadvantage is its cost. It's definitely not for those on a budget.

/michm

Steve Edwards said...

The phytonutrients are even more intereting, though info is a little hard to find. It's a major source of quercetic, making it a natural FRS. It's pretty cheap online. It's also super easy to grow.

Anonymous said...

Re coconut oil, have you seen this study:

Bueno AA, Oyama LM, de Oliveira C, Pisani LP, Ribeiro EB, Silveira VL, Oller do Nascimento CM. Effects of different fatty acids and dietary lipids on adiponectin gene expression in 3T3-L1 cells and C57BL/6J mice adipose tissue. Pflugers Arch. 2008 Jan;455(4):701-9. Epub 2007 Aug 24.

A population of mice was divided into four groups, each one receiving one of the four following fats: soybean oil, fish oil, coconut oil, or lard. Their biochemical response was measured after 2 days and 60 days on this diet. With every type of fat, except fish oil, adiponectin levels were reduced. Soybean oil and coconut oil produced the most significant reductions. (Adiponectin is a hormone that helps to combat heart disease and diabetes; apparently it is sensitive to the kinds of fats we choose to eat).

/michm

Anonymous said...

Okay, one more post from me: A supplement I see missing from you regime is Vitamin D (or, perhaps it is found within one of your other supplements). Personal experience has proven this vitamin nothing short of a miracle. Any thoughts or experiences of your own to share?

/michm

Jason Hendrickson said...

Curious why you say Creatine should be cycled. I've heard this suggested from time-to-time but I've never found a reasonable explanation for doing so. If the goal is to increase phosphocreatine stores in your muscle cells in order to provide more short-term energy for high-intensity efforts, wouldn't you want this all the time?

InsaneXer said...

You don't want the body adapting it, Plus the benefits might taper off if not cycled.

I do wonder, why won't it help at my age? Are my natural stores high or something?

Thanks

kandie629 said...

hi well i was wondering about the slimming and performance formulas and their effectiveness. also the activit metabolism formula

Mike said...

Steve, do you have any opinion on beta alanine coupled with citruline mallate? there's another supplement that has these in combination with a couple of other ingredients. Cost plays a factor, so I'm thinking of purchasing bulk for BA & CM. Training for an ironman distance triathlon in October. Thanks for any feedback on this.

Jason said...

I've been using creatine for the 1st time for my last 2 phases of p90x (just finished last week). I got great results from the program and not just by taking creatine. But I do feel that it helped me with my goals of increasing muscle mass. The biggest advantage of taking it for me was that I felt it allowed my to do more reps/heavy weights during the work outs than without it. I agree that it is a supplement and not a mircale muscle pill,powder. I am 26 and was fairly skinny when starting the program. Thanks for all the info.

Anonymous said...

I was wondering what the daily intake of Chia seeds should be? Either in cups or ounces?

Also in response to the joint support tablets, I have been constantly fighting one sore shoulder to the other throughout P90X round 1 and first 2 phases of round 2. Is it your opinion that the joint support might mitigate some of the soreness I feel. I refuse to just mask the pain by taking ibuprofen on a daily basis.

Thanks

Justin

Jason said...

I would be interested in hearing your thoughts on Vitamin D as well. A blood test I took revealed a vitamin D deficiency after finishing P90x. I do not know if P90x was a contributor, the doctor said this was very common for someone my age (mid-20's).

DrPepper237 said...

What about fat loss supplements? Are there any legitimate, fast working fat loss products out there?

Anonymous said...

Steve,

I am skeptic so forgive me in advance. When it comes to supplements, how can I take anything you write about seriously when you and your company sell them? I can understand exercise articles, but you sell creatine and you are plugging Shakeology and Beachbody vitamins in your blogs. Sorry, I can't what you say at your word.

Alex P

Jason said...

You say that creatine is healthy to take, but on Tony Horton's facebook, he posted a link to http://health.howstuffworks.com/wellness/diet-fitness/information/does-creatine-work.htm a while back. Tony himself has mentioned he uses the supplement, but why would he post an article not supporting creatine?

Jason said...

Steve,

You say that creatine is a beneficial supplement, yet Tony Horton posted an article on his facebook that says otherwise:
http://health.howstuffworks.com/wellness/diet-fitness/information/does-creatine-work.htm
What is your opinion?

Thanks!

Brent said...

Steve - The question I then have is this: Is the P90X Peak Performance vitamin pack good for supplementation as opposed to a regiment like you currently take?

Steve Edwards said...

Looks like I'll be blogging more on supps. I can't answer all these questions here or it would be more info than the posts but you could dig through my creatine stuff on the Message Boards. That creatine article, btw, it totally positive. If you don't think so you're expecting too much for the supplement. A 4% increase is massive!

His caution about the kidney issue answers Jason's question and he gives a good explanation of how it works and what it does. Creatine is only beneficial if you're training hard doing anaerobic endurace work. That is what it's for.

Peak Health is a good vitamin. Just look at the ingredient list and the amounts. I do use it also as well.

Jason H, I also use your supp and there will be more on it at a later date.

Alex, I don't ask anyone to believe me. Just consider my opinion as I have a bit of experience. Then make your own calls. Don't take my word for anything. Live and make your own words.

Steve Edwards said...

and sorry for the hasty brush over of all this. I'm swamped today but will be back with more info later.

There are no miracle supplements unless you find something your body isn't getting that it needs. Hence these new vit D claims, which are only coming about because we eat too much processed food and live too much like vampires. Get outside, during the day, and you'll be fine.

Anonymous said...

The vitamin d issue for me is that although I get more than plenty outside time in the sun, I cover myself head to toe in SPF/UPF clothing (UPF rated long sleeve jerseys and UPF rated full length tights even in the height of summer), and slather on the zinc oxide/titanium dioxide sunscreen. Personally, I'd rather take a supp than risk skin cancer. However, I did not know that this was inhibiting my body's ability to produce vitamin d. Only after going through tests for rheumatoid arthritis, etc. to determine the cause of my bone pain did I finally find a doc who knew enough to test my vitamin d levels. Mine was an EIGHT. She'd never seen a result so low. It took consistently taking 2000 IU per day for several months to get my levels near normal, but now, no more bone pain! It's wonderful. :)

/michm

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