Last Updated: 4/12/17
In the past few months I’ve repeatedly been asked to list some of the supplements I’d recommend on this blog. I’ve put this off because I want to do thorough research for each type of supplement, present my findings and then make a recommendation based on those (like I did here). However these articles take a lot of research and time to create so I’m going to use this article as a half way point.
In this article I’m going to list the supplements I recommend and my reasoning. I will only recommend supplements that I personally have taken, if there’s something you think would be better than what’s on the list tweet it to me (@brawnforbrains) and if it is I’ll be sure to update my listings.
Full disclosure: Buying any of the products listed through the links I provide will put a small percentage of that money in my pocket; Help a grad student out!
To start, if you are lifting weights and trying to gain an athletic body composition then you likely should be on a high protein diet. Eating this much protein in a day can be exhausting, especially if you are a vegetarian. For this we have whey protein supplements.
MyProtein Isolate – Best Value, High accuracy to label. The taste is alright, you aren’t really going to be craving it but it does go down easily.
Dear god this is a ridiculously overcrowded market. Essentially the main ingredient in all preworkouts is caffeine but some add creatine, bcaa’s, nitic oxide boosters, etc… I’ve found that the more crap they seem to try to cram in there the less effective it is overall. For this section I’m putting two recommendations; the first is my “Minimalist Homemade Pre Workout” and the second is a premade option if you don’t want to deal with buying individual ingredients. You can read more about preworkout here.
Matt’s Minimalist Preworkout
Legion’s Pulse – Average price for a preworkout product, high accuracy to label and tastes amazing. The guys over at Legion Athletics did an amazing job with this product. It’s the only preworkout I’ve seen that pairs caffeine with Theanine, something known to occur in green tea and believed to promote euphoria from caffeine instead of the jitters. While you can definitely find preworkouts on the market with more than the 350 mg of caffeine that pulse provides you really shouldn’t require such high levels of caffeine unless there is some deeper issue.
For this I recommend creatine monohydrate, it’s the form of creatine that has had the most research done on it and shown to be effective time and time again. For those who do not know: creatine monohydrate is a great supplement for weight lifters because it can be taken up by your cells to form phosphocreatine which helps your muscle cells rapidly renew ATP resources. Each of the recommendations I make below is simply pure creatine monohydrate.
You can read a full explanation of my choice here. Multivitamins are certainly not necessary but they are great insurance policies should your nutrition have multiple gaps.
Branched Chain Amino Acids
There are way too many supposed benefits from drinking BCAA cocktails and that’s made the price skyrocket. BCAAs have their use but it’s very specific: Branched Chain Amino Acids have been shown to effectively prevent muscle catabolism, so I only drink it when I am in a phase of reduced calories and/or in a fasted state, especially if I am exercising in a fasted state. Outside of that very specific window I do not usually ingest BCAA’s.
Bulk Supplement’s Pure BCAA’s (Unflavored) – This is one of the better deals however it is up to you to find an acceptable way to ingest it.
Let’s be frank, only a very select few of us are actually going to get an optimal amount of Omega-3 fatty acids through our diet. Much like a multivitamin I find fish oil to be a good insurance policy.
And that’s it. At least currently, those are the only supplements I am taking and would recommend. Remember with supplements that they’re not some magical serum that’s going to unlock your true potential. You need to have a solid diet as your basis and only supplement to fill in the gaps.
Again if you think this list could be improved upon from any addition and/or replacement please tweet it to me (@brawnforbrains) and I’ll be sure to test it out!