My Current Supplement Stack as of 12/5/18
Why did I get into supplements?
My first experience with supplements started when I first began working out at 15. I started using all sorts of whey proteins to see what was best for building muscle. Eventually in college I started using pre workouts and BCAAS for endurance and more intense lifts which helped take me away from school and into a focused training zone. After success I began experimenting with different brands and types that landed me with brand loyalty in Optimum and JYM. Although I am not sponsored I would highly recommend their products. Currently supplements are something I rely on to meet protein goals, intensity, and recovery.
Top Shelf Supplements: Whey Proteins and Mass gainer
The first 3 jars are whey proteins pictured on the left of the top shelf and mass gainer on the right. Brands I’ve used are JYM, Optimum, GNC Wheyabolic, Bodybuilding.com, BPI, Performance Nutrition, Muscle Milk, and EAS. In my opinion JYM is superior to every other protein because it has other forms of protein (egg, casein, whey), which digest at different rates. This plays a huge role in keeping me fuller longer!
Why Supplement with Whey?
I currently consume 2-3 shakes per day for the purpose of meeting protein macros, snacking healthy, and stay full until I have a real meal. Sometimes I add whey to my meal like in oatmeal but mostly I mix it with almond milk or blend with fruit for a smoothie. Whey protein is essential to hitting my total protein intake for the day. I generally consume at least 1-1.5 grams of protein per Kilogram of bodyweight. Occasionally I will eat 1-1.5 grams of protein per lb of bodyweight. A good rule of thumb is to increase protein intake when lifting more frequently especially if your goal is to build muscle mass.
Why Mass gainer?
The purpose of this supplement is muscle growth. It does this by adding lots of calories through carbs and protein. I like JYM because it has a 1:1 ratio of protein and carbs in his blend. The one downside to mass gainers are they often require huge scoops of protein making it super thick so I often mix with water. I generally use this as meal replacement after workouts if I don’t have a meal prepped or if I’m lacking on calories for that day. When I increase my cardio and want to maintain muscle mass I will take mass more frequently just so it refuels the carbs I took out of my body.
Bottom Shelf Supplements: Pre Workout, Post workout, BCAAS, Creatine
Take caution when taking these supplements as they can have side effects if not used correctly. One thing to be cautious of with pre workout is the caffeine content depending on your tolerance or time you are taking it. One other thing is eating something with these supplements to avoid stomach irritation and to aid absorption. Some of my favorite pre workout snacks include PB&J, granola bars/protein bars, and yogurt with granola. The most important thing to recognize with these supplements is why you are taking it, whether it is endurance, intensity boost, or recovery.
Why Pre Workouts?
Pictured on the right of the bottom shelf are the preworkouts by Optimum and JYM. Currently I take Pre JYM before resistance training mainly for creatine and caffeine but there are other good things in there as well. Others I’ve tried are Lit, Performance Nutrition, and Condense by Purus Labs. One thing to note about other pre workouts are some like condense are vasodilators, which contain some sort of nitrate and often without creatine. I personally like the creatine and don’t really feel that good of a “pump” with the vasodilator style of preworkout. One thing that is common of all preworkouts is a high caffeine content that is important for endurance and higher intensity workouts. Due to caffeine it is important to consume lots of water throughout the day with these types of supplements and to drink alcohol in moderation or you will run the risk of dehydration. When buying a preworkout the main thing is looking at the caffeine content and if it is too high for you or if it could still work if half a scoop is taken. I generally take half when starting a new pre workout. One thing to watch for is in the ingredients. It should list everything without saying “pump matrix” or “proprietary blend” which is essentially a fancy word for additional ingredients that may be fillers. The general rule of thumb is to avoid products with ridiculous claims and ingredient blends that don’t have individual listings of each ingredient in the blends. One last tip is mixing the powder before you scoop it. First take the scoop out and shake before portioning a scoop just so the contents of the scoop are evenly mixed. This is something Jim Stoppani of JYM supplements recommends that you do so that you get the right amounts of what is in each scoop.
BCAAS are the building blocks of protein that can be used as energy in or out of a workout. Pictured in the middle is Amino Energy by Optimum Nutrition by far my favorite bcaa supplement. Mornings I don’t take preworkout I will mix amino energy and creatine to get my day started. This supplement has 50 mg of caffeine per scoop which makes it very easy to manipulate for just waking up or before a workout. I sampled this to my mom and she has since bought various flavors as well as got other people hooked on it. This has been a supplement I’ve recommended to most people because it is safe and easy to control caffeine content. My favorite flavor is either strawberry lime or blueberry mito. To the left of the amino energy are Peach mango Pro BCAAs by optimum. I really enjoy having this supplement to sip on throughout my workout especially in the evening when I don’t drink a supplement with caffeine. However, I often get an upset stomach drinking them on an empty stomach. Even though scientific evidence isn’t strong for BCAAs it helps me mentally feel energized and helps keep me hydrated as well.
Creatine is a muscle protein that is an energy source during workouts. Meat will have some creatine however to get 5 grams you would have to eat a very large portion of meat. I supplement with creatine for recovery and to provide extra muscle energy during workouts. There are 2 kinds of creatine. One is Creatine HCL and the other is Monohydrate which both have shown to work but there is new evidence that HCL is superior in how the body uses it in absorption. HCL is needed in smaller doses, which is also nice. There are 2 ways to take creatine one is to “load” by taking a large amount for a few days to a week similar to a runner’s carb load before a race. The other way which is the method I currently use is a daily load of 5 grams for monohydrate it will be less for HCL but be sure to follow package instructions. Creatine draws water into your muscles so it is important to drink plenty of water in order to fight dehydration.
Why Post workouts?
Post workouts contain many different things with a variety of these products available on the market. My favorite is Post JYM mandarin orange. I absolutely love this supplement and is arguable my favorite of all time that I have consumed. It is important mainly for hydration but also creatine and BCAAs to refuel the muscles after the workout. The one BCAA to look for in your post workout is L-Leucine because research has shown that this amino acid is the main driver behind muscle protein synthesis (muscle building) and for that reason there should be more grams of it then other amino acids in the mix. This also goes for any other supplement with bcaas. There are other beneficial substances inside post Jym and other post/pre workouts that I will cover in another blog.