Before you even begin to consider purchasing supplements, keep in mind a few things:
- Exactly zero supplements will take the place of a poor diet or inconsistent training. Supplementation is only effective when your calories, your macros, your micros, and your recovery is on point.
- There are no bullshit scams on this list. No “pre-workout nonsense”, no “stimulants”, no “appetite suppressors”, etc. Only legitimate supplementation options which have been proven and are widely used by those who pay close attention.
- Every single one of these supplements is taken by me personally – brand, amounts, everything. I purchase only the highest quality products and I find the least expensive option I can. After all…………I’m living on a teacher’s salary………….
- None of these supplements will cause fat loss or muscular health. NONE. Keep that in mind. If everything else is in place, they MIGHT speed up the rate of fat loss or muscular growth – that is all. You do not need one, simple supplement to reach your goals.
- These are affiliate links – I will get a small stipend if you click through and buy.
Recommended Supplementation Regimen (in order of importance)
Fish oil is arguably the most important supplement to have in your arsenal. The health benefits are numerous – blood lipid panels, reduced chance of heart disease, possible weight loss/muscle building benefits, and my favorite – joint lubrication. This can be close to essential when lifting often and heavy.
Fish oil quality is extremely important. In order to get the fish oil benefits, you must consume 2 grams of EPA and 1.5 grams of DHA. The vast majority of fish oil sold in the stores is shit. You would need to consume hundreds of pills per day to get those amounts. You want to be sure your fish oil lists these amounts exactly – and you pay attention to the serving size – or you’re wasting your money.
I use Mega EPA/DHA from Life Extension. No fillers, very potent, and inexpensive. You must take 6 pills per day to gain the benefits. I take these in the morning with a whey shake.
Daily cost ~$0.75 per day.
Living in a non-tropical climate, getting some supplementation for the lack of sun is crucial. A lack of Vitamin D is linked to seasonal depression, which I am prone to suffer from.
Vitamin D also helps support your immune system, bone density, muscular system, and health in general.
The recommended daily dosage is 2000-5000 IU. Being 6’8″, I opt for 5000 IU and it keeps my levels nice and high – as evidenced by my yearly blood panels.
I use this brand from NutriGold and I take one pill each morning with my fish oil – Vitamin D is fat soluble, so taking them both together ensures they will be absorbed.
Daily cost ~$0.05 per day
Vitamin K is an incredibly important vitamin which is highly associated with longevity. The risk of all-cause mortality increases with a lack of Vitamin K in your system. It isn’t found in high quantities in many of the foods we eat, so supplementation is borderline necessary. The main benefit of Vitamin K is an improvement in your cardiovascular system – namely a decreased chance of blood clots.
I use this brand from Life Extension – it’s potent and each pill contains 1000 mcg of Vitamin K1 and 1200 mcg of Vitamin K2.
Daily cost ~$0.19 per day
Zinc is essential to optimal organ function. It helps to boost your skeletal and immune system. It also has the potential to help increase testosterone production in men. When used in conjunction with magnesium, zinc is an excellent sleep aid as well.
I take one of these pills, from Now, about 30 minutes before bed along with melatonin and magnesium. It gives me 50 mg of zinc per day.
Daily cost ~$0.04 per day
Most people aren’t eating foods which contain enough magnesium to properly maintain our health. Magnesium’s main benefit is as an anti-inflammatory agent. Inflammation causes loads of issues, including heart disease, diabetes, and cancers.
For me, magnesium’s huge benefit is being able to calm me down after a long day. I take 500 mg of magnesium in the form of one pill from Nature’s Bounty about 30 minutes before bed along with zinc and melatonin.
Daily cost ~$0.04 per day
Melatonin is a potent anti-oxidant which protects us against free radicals and helps to promote proper brain function. Natural melatonin production decreases as we age, which can leave us susceptible to neurological issues such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and stroke.
Melatonin gives me a much deeper and more restful sleep as well – and is the main reason I use it. It is advisable to test out your response to melatonin, as it can be a trigger for intense and vivid dreams.
I take 5 mg of melatonin using this brand from Now. One tablet 30 minutes before bed in conjunction with zinc and magnesium gives me a satisfying and full night’s sleep.
Daily cost ~$0.06 per day
Creatine is one of the only supplements which has been proven to increase muscularity over time. It’s important to note that creatine does not cause lean body mass increases. Creatine aids in ATP production at the cellular level. This enables us to grind out an extra rep or two that we otherwise wouldn’t be able to complete.
Over time, with these extra reps and an increase in volume, you will gain additional muscle if training intensely and eating intelligently.
There is no use to “load” creatine – this is a myth created by supplement companies in order to sell more products. Creatine hits a saturation point in the cells after about 2-3 weeks of use, so give it time.
Some are “non-responders” to creatine, or have digestive issues while taking it, so please use caution.
I take 5 grams of creatine from Dymatize each day with a whey shake and a piece of fruit. I take it post-workout when I train.
Daily cost ~$0.09 per day
BCAA Powder (Redacted)
For years, I recommended BCAA supplementation when training in a fasted state. The thought was that if you were training without protein in your body, you would risk muscle loss and catabolism.
Over time, as BCAA supplements have been studied in clinical and scientific scenarios, it has become clear that if you’re adequately consuming enough protein via whole food sources, BCAA supplementation is redundant and unnecessary, not to mention pricey.
Recommendation: Eat whole foods and get enough protein. Save your money on the BCAA’s.
Whey Protein Isolate
When raising your protein intake, many find it beneficial to utilize whey shakes in order to “fill in the gaps”. Whey is tasty and delicious – and it has potential muscle building effects as well.
Optimum Nutrition is one of the highest quality brands out there. My personal favorite flavor is “cake batter”, but all of the flavors are fantastic. There is minimal sugar/fat and roughly 25 grams of protein per scoop.
I take one scoop with unsweetened almond milk in the morning upon waking, and another post-workout with a piece of fruit.
Cost Per Serving ~$1.09 per scoop
Whole Psyllium Husk Powder
Being sure to eat your veggies and get enough fiber is crucial for digestive health. Even with a steady supply of veggies, you can still find yourself irregular and bloated without some supplementation.
I have tried probiotics, excess hydration, and fiber supplements. Taking one tablespoon of psyllium husk powder from Now each morning mixed in water does the trick perfectly. Regular bowel movements and zero clogs.
Daily cost ~$0.34 per day
I hope you find these supplements useful.
Be sure to remember – supplements are designed to supplement a healthy diet and training schedule. Nothing takes the place of hard work and consistency.