Recovery: Supplementation

I've been slacking on the recovery posts, I admit it. I can say I've been busy (which I actually have been), but you'll all still be dicks about it. So today, I want to address supplementation to aid in performance and recovery.

Before I begin, however, one thing must be clear:

Unless your nutrition and sleep are dialed in, most supplementation is pointless.

1) Fish Oil: This is why "most" was in italics above. Everyone should be taking fish oil. Back in the caveman/neanderthal days, the ratio of Omega 3's to Omega 6's was about 1:1. Now, we're floating around 1:20 or 1:30. This is not good. Fish oil possesses anti-inflammatory properties (alleviates muscle soreness), helps brain and liver function, and is not some bullshit supplement - it's highly endorsed across the board of medicine, sports performance, and rehabilitation.

A. Keep in refrigerator or freezer. This will increase it's shelf life.
B. Eat immediately before or during a meal. Not after. It's okay if you do... you'll just get fish oil burps. They're not very appetizing.
C. Fish Oil Calculator. An excellent guide to find out how much fish oil you should be consuming daily. Dallas and Melissa from Whole9Life are top notch.

A. Kirkland Brand Fish Oil from Costco is a very cost-effective choice. Good quality at a great price.
B. Nature's Answer. For a high quality liquid form, you can't beat the price on this particular brand. Apparently, it tastes pretty good as well.
C. Nordic Naturals. Allegedly, one of the highest concentrated brands out there, but very expensive.

2) Vitamin D3: Quickly becoming, quite possibly, the best supplement on the planet. A whole lot of studies have been done on this beautiful bitch and all the results/effects have been positive. Don't believe me? Here are three solid sources: EatMoveImprove, Charles Poliquin, and Huffington Post.

A. Personally, I take 5000 IU before going to bed every night (or morning because of my stupid schedule). I started, however, by taking roughly 10,000 IU per day for roughly 3 months. This was to "get my levels up" so to speak and I now take 5000/day for maintenance.

A. While it can be bought at almost any grocery store or pharmacy, I prefer Healthy Origins brand off iHerb. Great price, good quality, and high concentration.

3) Protein: A diet loaded with steak, chicken, pork, bacon, and beef will certainly do wonders, but some of you will require a little extra (mainly former vegetarians and Too-Skinny Jimmies). Protein is essential, especially post-workout, to optimize recovery as well as repair/build muscle. This is basic, well-known shit so I'm not going any further into it than this.

A. The optimal window post-workout to take protein is anywhere with 45 minutes of completion. Ideally, consuming some kind of protein shake within 15

A. The EAS brand from Costco is decent quality at a good price. Flavor ain't so bad either.
B. Anil swears by Optimum Nutrition brand off Vitacost.
C. OPT also has a wide variety of great products in his online store. Ranging from protein powders to REFUEL, a recovery supplement designed by the man himself.

4) Magnesium (and Zinc): Most, if not all, people are deficient in magnesium and zinc, two essential natural minerals. If you recall that Dan John article, he highly recommends magnesium. It

A. Take roughly 40 minutes to an hour before going to bed. This isn't required, but it's the best time frame for consumption.
B. You may experience some trippy dreams, but it's perfectly normal and sometimes very fun. I'm sure you all miss college anyways.

A. Natural Calm. Robb Wolf and many others have spoken very highly about this brand. I'm currently taking it and sleeping like a baby. Naturally, as you've all noticed, I'm not exactly "calm" but that's because I'm an asshole. Note: This supplement only contains magnesium so you may want to take zinc tablets along with it. They can be bought all over.
B. ZMA. The Twin Labs brand from iHerb is a good product for a good price, but there are other options out there as well.

There are certainly other options out there, ranging from glutamine to beta alanine and so on. But again, this goes back to my initial statement: Without solid sleep and a good diet, taking all the craziest supplements in the world won't matter. The ones listed above, however, are essential, important, and effective, which is why I've included them here.

Information Is Beautiful provided an excellent interactive graphic regarding supplements, vitamins, and minerals here.

If anyone has any questions, don't hesitate to ask.


  1. Whole Foods whey protein powder is my favorite...you can actually decipher the ingredients.

  2. So what does D3 actually do?

  3. What about HGH? Does costco sell that, too?

  4. Read the links I posted, Joe. The Poliquin one is a quick and easy read. The EatMoveImprove one is more in-depth.

    Costco sells HGH, but not syringes. A shame, I know.

  5. I with Anil on this -- I love Optimum Nutrition's whey.

  6. Q is providing you guys with solid information here-- you're lucky to have him. I want to clarify and amplify his point about post-WOD nutrition, though. After exercise we have a short period of time when we can fly glucose and amino acids into the muscle without much insulin and with improved recovery. The optimum time for this is LESS THAN 15 MINUTES post workout, it's still good at 30 minutes, but it is nearly back to baseline after an hour. Easy solution: keep milk in the fridge at the gym or bring a carton with you, and get on it right after your WOD.
    On a different note, if you are looking for a non-sleep aid magnesium supplement, you can skip the Natural Calm (sleepy making) and go for any chelated magnesium capsule, 100-200 mg/day.

  7. I have a question I'm not sure if it's silly or not, but I just don't know... so when does the "post-workout" clock start? When you finish the metcon? What if you do GHD work or something after?

  8. Good question, Jess (surprisingly).

    Obviously, it's rarely set in stone as workouts differ on a daily basis. Let's put it this way: the sooner, the better.

    If you have something available following a tough metcon, it might be good to consume some of it before or between GHD sets. Eiher way, be sure not to have a fresh full stomach before doing 90 GHD sit-ups.

    But otherwise, waiting the additional 5-7 minutes it takes to do GHD's won't kill you...