7 Supplements I Take to See Results

7 Supplements I Take to See Results

7 Supplements

Maybe you’re wondering how many supplements are a good number of supplements? Maybe you’re wondering, which supplements are best for you when it comes to working out?

Well here is a complete guide - in accordance with my own supplements - to help you differentiate what is important and what isn't.

Ready? Okay.

(FOREWORD: These are the supplements I take related to working out. There are many more out there)

PROTEIN

Current: Gold Standard 100% Whey Protein

I enjoy this protein but I like mixing it up every time. This is (1) to test different products for their quality, taste, and performance and (2) to provide variety to the body as each product acts differently when ingested and digested. 

Products I’ve recently taken (*ones I liked):

  • ATP Beef Protein*
  • ATP Grass Fed Whey Protein*
  • Quattro Whey/Casein Blend*
  • Diesel Whey Protein

You’re probably not surprised with this first supplement as almost anyone that goes to the gym will have a protein supplement. But you may ask yourself if it’s worth the $100 price tag for a large 5kg container. Yes, yes it is. 

There have been many studies on supplementing protein - a lot on whey protein - and though there are always slight differences in results, the general consensus is always positive for an increase in lean tissue mass, strength and myofibrillar count [1]. In fact, in 1 study comparing whey, and soy protein with 9 months of resistance training in males and females, they found the gains were significant (approx 3.3 ± 1.5 kg for whey and 1.8 ± 1.6 kg for soy) [2]. 

I will advocate for animal-based proteins over plant-based ones, however. In the same study mentioned above, they also compared both proteins with a carb filler and found that even the carb filler outperformed the soy protein (2.3 ± 1.7 kg carb vs 1.8 ± 1.6 kg soy) in lean muscle mass. 

This is in large part due to the fast-acting amino acids, in particular leucine. Comparing whey protein and soy protein, the similar cellular structure of an animal protein (whey) to a human’s body far outreaches that of a plant's cellular structure [3]. The numbers were pretty staggering as whey outperformed soy by 31% for muscle growth when consumed after exercising. If you have a difficult time digesting whey (dairy), I would suggest either a beef-based protein or an egg-based protein. 

For a complete breakdown in which protein is best for you, check out my article Pick the Right Protein Powder

End result = picking a high-quality protein powder is as important as taking protein post-workout. 

CARBS

Current: Pentacarbs by ATP Labs

Yes, I take a carb filler. Only when my goal is to put on weight and increase muscle mass do I do this. Currently, my diet restricts carb intake due to the nature of the foods (similar to paleo but slightly more forgiving.) 

Pentacarbs are the only carb filler I will consume as most carb fillers are grain or wheat-based, promoting inflammation. The Pentacarbs are gluten-free and include a variety of amino acids for better absorption. 

The purpose behind the carb filler is to replenish glycogen stores and prevent metabolic cannibalization (breaking down your own muscle tissue to replenish other muscle tissue.) A lot of case studies compare a placebo group (carbs) to another amino acid or isolated protein, but in studies such as the one above, the carb groups can sometimes outperform or put up a pretty good fight in developing tissue. 

When it comes to endurance events, carbs are king as they promote glycogen and glucose production - your body's first and favourite source of energy. These energy sources are fast metabolizing and are good for short bursts of high-intensity activities [4]. As you begin to settle into steady-state cardio, your body will primarily use fat cells for energy instead. 

(SIDE NOTE: for cutting fat, steady-state cardio is horrible as the calories burned from the activity are offset by the body's need to replenish those calories immediately after the workout. Your best bet is developing muscle and focusing on high-intensity, short-burst cardio activities.)

So in developing muscle, carbs can replenish the energy lost and prevent further muscle protein breakdown but will prevent fat oxidization, thusly, shouldn’t be consumed if your goal is to cut fat. 

EAA’s

Current: Pure EAA by ATP Labs

Essential Amino Acids (EAA) and Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAA) have been under a microscope for some time with regards to the gym. Some believe it to be all hype and others swear by its effectiveness. I’m in the latter group because we know that a protein synthesis is a result form sufficient amino intake BUT quality and free-form amino acids vs whole food amino acids need to be considered. 

The amino acids are going to help with protein breakdown and glucose depletion. Taken intra-workout, you are supplementing the loss of energy as you workout. The problem with most EAA’s is that they are full of sugar or fillers, giving you a false sense of energy and augmentation.  

When taken in as a supplement, you are ingesting a free-form amino acid. Everything has been broken down to its most basic form and delivers a quick bang for your buck. When aminos are more readily available, they combine with macronutrients such as protein, carbs and fats to help absorb, transport, break down and signal actions in the body. This is the key to preventing excess protein breakdown and expediting the protein synthesis process (gains.) In the case of protein, leucine (an amino) is one of the key drivers in creating more muscle. 

EAAs will be the better choice over BCAAs and the industry is beginning to lean this way. BCAAs only include 3 aminos as EAAs include 9 aminos. The more there is to offer, the better your body will do in using aminos for your benefit. 

For the naysayers, publications have proven that taking aminos can increase full-body muscle development when combined with resistance training upwards of 35% as compared to a placebo group [5]. 

The takeaway = select a high-quality EAA (do your research and select brands with approved quality certifications) to see more growth potential. 

CREATINE

Current = 100% Pure Creatine by PVL

Creatine, the high schoolers steroids. But seriously, creatine is great for recovery, females, vegetarians and the elderly - pretty much anybody. What it’s not gonna do is pump you up bigger than Ronnie Coleman going for that squat PB. 

When taking creatine, stick to monohydrate forms as any other form has not been examined as extensively and no conclusive data has proven to increase benefits.

Creatine is a combination of arginine, glycine and methionine formed in the kidney and liver. Mostly ingested through meats, the body can also create creatine itself. The reason for creatine's success with resistance training is its ability to store more phosphocreatine in the cell, helping with ATP production which, in turn, provides more energy for the body to move and work. Creatine is also one of the most reviewed supplements you can take making it one the safest supplements. Over the years, however, people have had a lot of misconceptions about creatine.

I believe there is a lot of misinformation or lack of understanding when it comes to creatine. So here are the quick and dirty answers that will solve all your worries [6]:

  1. Does it create water retention? No, not over the long-term
  2. Is it a steroid? No - just no. Completely different chemical structure
  3. Does it cause kidney damage? No, it’s produced by the kidney and liver
  4. Does it cause hair loss? No. People going bald just like to say that. 
  5. Is creatine only effective on males? No, it works for everyone. 
  6. Is creatine bad for adolescents/children? No, it’s completely safe.
  7. Is it beneficial for older adults? Yes, as it increases energy and recovery

GLUTAMINE

Current: Allmax Glutamine

Glutamine - in my opinion - is the most undervalued supplement out of the bunch. As a versatile amino acid, glutamine consumption by immune cells is greater than even glucose which is the body's favourite source of energy creation. It’s also an essential nutrient for lymphocyte proliferation and cytokine production, macrophage phagocytic plus secretory activities, and neutrophil bacterial killing [7] (fancy ways for saying it kicks ass at keeping our immune functions up.) It also aids in the gut, liver, and skeletal muscle health. 

With regards to training, it aids in recovery and lymphatic support. In layman's terms, when we exercise, we are breaking down muscle tissue and stressing our metabolic receptors. When we finish, the only way to grow those muscles is to recover from the damage and we could argue that recovery is on par with working out. So aminos such as glutamine aid in decreasing inflammation, flushing the lymphatic system and reducing fatigue [8]. 

Those that use glutamine can see speedier recovery, reduced intra-workout fatigue, and create a stronger immune system. With all the inflammation in our bodies from current diets and training, we need to keep these systems as healthy as possible and glutamine is one way to do this. 

(SIDE NOTE: I also take glutamine every morning (10g) to help with general immune function.)

MAGNESIUM

Current: CanPrev Magnesium Bis-Glycinate

The only mineral on my list, magnesium plays a crucial role in energy metabolism cell growth, glycolysis, and protein synthesis [9]. Magnesium also combines with ATP (the body's first line of energy) to form the Mg-ATP, a complex that is responsible for many physiological functions including nerve conduction, muscle contraction, and blood pressure regulation [10]. As the nutrient value of most foods continues to decline, a depletion of magnesium in the human body becomes more apparent and is vital not only to gym performance but everyday health as well. 

In relation to muscular growth and performance, magnesium has seen some positive results. With one study examining rats, magnesium showed an increase in glucose concentrations and a decrease/reduction in lactate [11] (a byproduct of converting glucose and glycogen into energy.) This was observed in the skeletal muscles and brain. 

Human studies have not been as conclusive but in a few studies, an increase in exercise performance is also associated with magnesium supplementation, including total body force production. This has to do largely with the body's ability to support energy production, delay lactate build-up, and regulate the nervous system and cardiovascular system.

When selecting magnesium, there are many different varieties including citrate, glycinate, taurate, oxide, threonate, malate, and more. Each variation of magnesium targets different systems, such as the glycinate targeting the muscular system. When selecting magnesium, my only word of caution is not to select citrate as it's a derivative of oranges and acts more of a laxative than anything else. 

BETA-ALANINE

Current: E-NOS by ATP Labs 

You may know beta-alanine from the tingling sensation you get when you take too much pre-workout. Now I can’t advocate for taking pre-workout (there is a lot of no-no shit in there) but I do like the effects of beta-alanine.

Beta-alanine has been used in many studies ranging from cognitive function to physical performance. The main benefit of beta-alanine is its ability to increase carnosine levels in the muscle tissue [12]. Carnosine is linked to possible cognitive performance enhancements and increased resiliency to stress; this is thought to be because of the ability to act as an antioxidant in the body. The concentration of carnosine is much greater in type II muscle than type I making it perfect for resistance training [12]. 

One study concluded that when taken for a minimum of 4 weeks at 4-6g daily, carnosine levels significantly increased, improving exercise performance, especially during tasks lasting between the 1-4 minute range (this is due to carnosine’s ability to increase work capacity by reducing intercellular muscle fatigue.) Combined with other supplementations over a long enough duration, beta-alanine has also shown evidence to reduce neuromuscular fatigue and improve tactical performance, specifically in older adults [13].

My suggestion is to skip the pre-workout and either invest in beta-alanine itself or a product that includes other high-quality amino acids such as my E-NOS. The only side-effect of beta-alanine is the tingling sensation (a.k.a. paraesthesia), but can be avoided by cutting the dosage. 

There you have it! The total list and reasoning as to why I take the supplements I take. 

For most, this might be a lot (or too much) and I encourage you to find the supplements that best suit your goals and needs. In a perfect world, we would absorb most of these aminos, minerals, vitamins and other supplements, through whole foods, but we also see these studies and think “maybe I can super improve my gains.” That is perfectly fine too. 

Start simple, include one supplement at a time and find the ones that make the biggest difference in your training. 

If you're interested in getting up to date supplement recommendations, be sure to sign up for the weekly newsletter! Comes out every Thursday morning.

[1] Candow DG, Burke NC, Smith-Palmer T, Burke DG. Effect of whey and soy protein supplementation combined with resistance training in young adults. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2006 Jun;16(3):233-44. doi: 10.1123/ijsnem.16.3.233. PMID: 16948480.

[2] Volek JS, Volk BM, Gómez AL, Kunces LJ, Kupchak BR, Freidenreich DJ, Aristizabal JC, Saenz C, Dunn-Lewis C, Ballard KD, Quann EE, Kawiecki DL, Flanagan SD, Comstock BA, Fragala MS, Earp JE, Fernandez ML, Bruno RS, Ptolemy AS, Kellogg MD, Maresh CM, Kraemer WJ. Whey protein supplementation during resistance training augments lean body mass. J Am Coll Nutr. 2013;32(2):122-35. doi: 10.1080/07315724.2013.793580. PMID: 24015719.

[3] Tang JE, Moore DR, Kujbida GW, Tarnopolsky MA, Phillips SM. Ingestion of whey hydrolysate, casein, or soy protein isolate: effects on mixed muscle protein synthesis at rest and following resistance exercise in young men. J Appl Physiol (1985). 2009 Sep;107(3):987-92. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00076.2009. Epub 2009 Jul 9. PMID: 19589961.

[4] Rothschild JA, Kilding AE, Plews DJ. What Should I Eat before Exercise? Pre-Exercise Nutrition and the Response to Endurance Exercise: Current Prospective and Future Directions. Nutrients. 2020 Nov 12;12(11):3473. doi: 10.3390/nu12113473. PMID: 33198277; PMCID: PMC7696145.

[5]Church DD, Hirsch KR, Park S, Kim IY, Gwin JA, Pasiakos SM, Wolfe RR, Ferrando AA. Essential Amino Acids and Protein Synthesis: Insights into Maximizing the Muscle and Whole-Body Response to Feeding. Nutrients. 2020 Dec 2;12(12):3717. doi: 10.3390/nu12123717. PMID: 33276485; PMCID: PMC7760188.

[6] Antonio J, Candow DG, Forbes SC, Gualano B, Jagim AR, Kreider RB, Rawson ES, Smith-Ryan AE, VanDusseldorp TA, Willoughby DS, Ziegenfuss TN. Common questions and misconceptions about creatine supplementation: what does the scientific evidence really show? J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2021 Feb 8;18(1):13. doi: 10.1186/s12970-021-00412-w. PMID: 33557850; PMCID: PMC7871530.

[7] Cruzat V, Macedo Rogero M, Noel Keane K, Curi R, Newsholme P. Glutamine: Metabolism and Immune Function, Supplementation and Clinical Translation. Nutrients. 2018 Oct 23;10(11):1564. doi: 10.3390/nu10111564. PMID: 30360490; PMCID: PMC6266414.

[8] Coqueiro AY, Raizel R, Bonvini A, Rogero MM, Tirapegui J. Effects of glutamine and alanine supplementation on muscle fatigue parameters of rats submitted to resistance training. Nutrition. 2019 Sep;65:131-137. doi: 10.1016/j.nut.2018.09.025. Epub 2018 Oct 6. PMID: 31100607.

[9] Zhang Y, Xun P, Wang R, Mao L, He K. Can Magnesium Enhance Exercise Performance? Nutrients. 2017 Aug 28;9(9):946. doi: 10.3390/nu9090946. PMID: 28846654; PMCID: PMC5622706.

[10] Mildvan, A.S. Role of magnesium and other divalent cations in ATP-utilizing enzymes. Magnesium 1987, 6, 28–33. [Google Scholar] [PubMed]

Daniel Bednarski

Owner and operator of Revival Fitness.

daniel@revivalfitnessonline.com778 533 3285