Like every teen who first gets into strength training and has no clue about anything, I was obsessed with supplements. I couldn’t wait to try the latest and greatest miracle pill that was going to help me pack on 30 pounds overnight and finally turn me into Lee Haney.
So I wasted every dime I had and tried every single bodybuilding supplement that came out over the course of about a 10-15 year stretch. At 300 bucks a month that comes to $3,600 a year and somewhere between $36,000 and $54,000 in total!
Of course, none of the bodybuilding supplements ever did a single thing for me and there are still days when I sit around thinking about all the cool vacations I could be taking with that money right now. But the past is the past.
Since 1988 I’ve tested every supplement you can imagine on myself and an army of clients. Recently I’ve discovered some off-the-radar supplements that actually do make a difference. You never hear about them, though, because they aren’t really bodybuilding supplements. They’re more geared toward optimizing your health.
We’ll go through my supplement pyramid another day but for now I want to stick with the minimalist approach and discuss the only few supplements that anyone really needs.
I used to include multivitamins at the top of the list but I find that if you take a good greens supplement and eat a well balanced diet with lots of fresh fruit and vegetables you really don’t need the multi. I think the greens supplement is a better choice, actually. The one I use and prefer is called Athletic Greens.
At this point I think everyone has heard about the benefits of fish oil a thousand times over…
• Lower bodyfat
• Improved cardiovascular health
• Better skin
• Improved brain function
• Higher sex drive
• Better recovery
• Less inflammation
And about a hundred others. It’s definitely a must supplement. The one mistake most people make when taking fish oil, however, is they don’t take enough. All of the benefits can be derived from around six grams per day. That means that with most high quality brands you will need to take 12-24 capsules per day. I know that sounds crazy, but it’s true. And it’s worth it. If you’re only going to take one or two grams per day it’s really not worth it. Three would be the absolute bare minimum.
I use and recommend Omega 3 by Human Performance.
This is not an essential supplement by any stretch of the imagination. If you can eat your required amount of protein per day by simply consuming real food then that’s the way to go. This is more of a convenience supplement for those on the road or those who are simply too busy to chew 200 grams of protein per day. Heck, some people just can’t eat solid food that often. So protein powders make it easier for you to hit your daily requirements.
Just as everyone has heard about the benefits of fish oil ad infinitum by now I think the same can be said for the negatives of commercially manufactured, pasteurized, grain fed, non organic, dairy. It causes inflammation, wreaks havoc on your digestive system, causes excess mucous production and respiratory problems and takes a pretty good toll on your immune system. In other words, it’s bad news. And 99% of the protein powders on the market are made from that poison.
This is one supplement that certainly isn’t sexy or exciting, but it gets the job done. When you train hard your immune system can take a beating. Vitamin C helps keep your immune system functioning optimally so that you can stay healthy and in the gym. You can make gains if you’re too sick to train. Vitamin C is also critical in combating adrenal fatigue, which, in this day and age, most people seem to suffer from. I recommend a minimum of three grams of Vitamin C per day and six grams for most hard training athletes. I consider this an essential supplement.
Workout/ Hydration Drink-
There are a million and one products on the market designed to be taken during your workout. Yet the minimalist approach to this leads us to the cheapest and most effective solution… coconut water. Its natures sports drink (without all the disease causing chemicals and dyes).
Coconut water is especially effective when you are sweating a lot such as during basketball practice, a hard conditioning session or during football training camp in the hot summer sun.
This 100% natural drink, which actually has several health benefits and can…
- Boost immune system function
- Improve digestion
- Help regulate intestinal function
- Detoxify the body
- Cleanse the digestive tract
- Treat kidney and urethral stones
- Improve circulation
- Help maintain a high level of performance during intense training as effectively as just about any other fancy, high tech drink out there.
The list of benefits goes on and on but I’m sure you’re convinced already. There may be other fancier, more expensive supplements out there filled with artificial sweeteners and dyes and ingredients you can’t pronounce or find in the dictionary but nothing beats all natural coconut water. As far as I’m concerned, if you’re looking to stay hydrated and enhance your performance during training it’s coconut water for the win.
Get coconut water HERE.
I’ll be back in a day or two with the final installment of the Minimalism series. Until then let me hear your thoughts below and let me know if you have anything to add or any questions you need answered.