Supplementation, Take 2

Before I begin, the title above doesn't mean "Take 2 supplements" - I've just discussed supplementation already here. Nevertheless, I was asked to touch on it again.

The whole idea of supplementation is good and bad. Sometimes, you will need a little something extra to aid in recovery and increase performance. That's fine. What pisses me off about supplementation is people who ask about it when it's essentially pointless for them. Here's a quick questionnaire for you...

Are you sleeping at least 8-9 hours a night?

Is your nutrition dialed in? No grains, sugars, or processed foods?

Are you working out consistently and taking rest days when appropriate?

If you don't have these things worked out, then taking something like creatine is waste of your time and money. Look, there is no easy fix. If your squat is weak, you need to squat more. If you're not eating well and getting enough quality sleep, don't ask what kind of supplements you should be taking.

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

Now, I put "most" in italics for a reason. There are some things you should be taking no matter what. I don't consider these "supplements" because they should become a normal part of your everday life.


1) Fish Oil: Everyone should be taking fish oil. Back in the good ol' hunter-gatherer 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 whole spectrum 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. When it's calculated, the number may seem absurdly high - trust me, it's accurate. And for the record, eating salmon once a week doesn't cut it.

A. Kirkland Brand Fish Oil from Costco is a very cost-effective choice (go figure). Decent 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. I take it and I'm a fan.
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) 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 aids a boatload of biological processes such as the synthesis of protein, nerve conduction, and muscle contraction. Most importantly, it will help you sleep better.

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. This contains both magnesium and zinc.


4) 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 vital, 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, within 15 minutes post-workout is preferred.
B. For some of you in need of gaining weight, protein shakes can be consumed 2-3 times throughout the day. If you're trying to gain weight 1g of protein for every pound of bodyweight helps.

A. The EAS brand from Costco is decent quality at a good price. Flavor ain't so bad either.
B. I use Optimum Nutrition brand off Vitacost. Excellent quality and a solid price. Damn tasty, too.
C. OPT also has a wide variety of great products in his online store. Ranging from protein powders to REFUEL, a pretty solid semi-individualized post-workout recovery shake.

Ivan Stoitsov probably took protein
...and whatever they give racehorses


5) Creatine: This is one of the few supplements out there that actually does what it says. It will help with weight and strength gains as well as recovery between workouts.

A. Drink lots of water with it.
B. Don't worry about "loading" it as the directions may say. It's not necessary.

A. From what I've heard, CreaPure is a good choice.
B. There's also "creatine ethyl ester" which apparently absorbs into the body more quickly, but it's much more expensive. Basic creatine should do you just fine. 70's Big discusses creatine and other supplements a bit more here.

6) Glucosamine & Chondroitin: Many people take this for joint health. Reviews are generally mixed. Some people respond well to it, others think it's crap. If you're experiencing joint pain (i.e. you're old like Nick), it might be a good avenue to try.

A. This one is self-explanatory. Just take it. Be warned: I've heard it can make you gassy.

A. Can be purchased in either liquid or pill form. And it can be found in any grocery store or pharmacy.

In closing, Information Is Beautiful provided an excellent interactive graphic regarding supplements, vitamins, and minerals here. So, to simplify all of this: improve your diet, get at least 8-9 hours of sleep a night, take fish oil, Vitamin D3, magnesium, and zinc. Add protein to optimize recovery and gain muscle. Take creatine once the rest is sorted out. Try glucosamine and chondroitin if you're experiencing joint pain. Most importantly, be consistent with your training and work hard.


  1. Q- I've heard from reputable sources that supplemnting with D3 in sunny climates (like SD), where you're already getting good sun exposure, is a bad idea- because there is such a thing as too much D3. Have you seen anything on this point in your research?

  2. Not yet. Where'd you hear this?

    Besides, you were sitting right next to me at the Robb Wolf seminar when a kid asked about supplementing D3 with significant sun exposure. This is my paraphrasing of that exchange:

    Dude: "But what if we already spend a lot of time outside in the sun?"
    Robb Wolf: "Do you spend most of the day half-naked, running around under the sun?"
    Dude: "No."
    Robb Wolf: "Then you should be taking Vitamin D."

    I'm not encouraging people to give themselves skin cancer, but people definitely don't get enough sun these days and are deficient in D3. Hopefully, Robb will explain it more thoroughly when his book is released (I've already pre-ordered my copy).