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Supplements..What should you take, if anything at all???

What protein, fish oil, recovery mix, multivitamin, stimulants, deer antler, or whatever should you take???  Well the answer is convolutedly simple.  If you have your nutrition in check and your sole goal is just health and wellness then you don’t need to take any supplements at all.  If you are eating grass fed lean meats, wild fish, tons of vegetables, fruits and healthy fats you probably don’t need a whole lot except a sun tan.   The problem is that most people don’t have their nutrition in check for one reason or another and therefore require supplementation to achieve improved health and performance.  I’m not a doctor….yet, so always talk with your physician (Rich is a doctor right?) before you start taking supplements, particularly if you have existing health issues.   I will say this, YOU SHOULD NOT BE TAKING SUPPLEMENTS TO MAKE UP FOR POOR NUTRITIONAL HABITS!!!!!  Read that part again.  No seriously, read it again and don’t read any further until you do.  Get your nutrition in check first.  A follow on blog post will address how and what to eat.  Supplementing a bad diet is like putting a band aid on a gunshot wound, in the end you are f@cked.

There are some really good blogs out there that break down supplementation here, here, and here.  I like to give multiple insights because in any field the intelligent, successful folks will differ slightly but generally have common themes.  The common themes here being Vit D, Fish oil, protein and creatine.  Keep in mind these are not doctors or health care professionals like Rich (who I’ve decided will now be called Dick).  These blogs are based solely on observational science.    I personally don’t buy “stacked” or combo multivitamins or supplements because they usually have lots of artificial products that I don’t need or want.  If I’m looking for Vit D I buy pure unadulterated Vit D.   Same goes for proteins (most of them have tons of carbs and other sugars), and fish oil.  It isn’t necessarily a bad thing or unsafe to buy those products but I find it easier to track and adjust supplement intake if you are taking pure forms of them.  It’s also easier to identify any negative effects that may arise from a given supplement i.e. if you take a multivitamin with 30 ingredients and develop a skin rash or gut issues then it is very difficult to determine the cause of that side effect.  The process of elimination becomes easier, Comprende?

We generally tell everyone to take fish oil.    When we say fish oil we are actually referring to EPA/DHA.  Knowing this will allow you to read labels correctly and distinguish the good from the bad.  There is an insane amount of data that proves the benefits of taking your fish oil.   You would be hard pressed to find someone that would tell you it wasn’t ok to take.  Fish oil does wonders to combat inflammation and can improve heart and joint health.  The only people that we tell to watch their intake are our brave folks going down range to protect ‘Merica, and our LEO/FF who have an increased chance of injury where bleeding out needs to be considered.   We recommend 5-6g of EPA/DHA.   Some people say upwards of 9-10g of DHA alone for our expecting mothers.  This can have huge implications on brain development of the fetus or demon seed as Amanda calls it.   If you take so much fish oil that can’t hold bowel movement then go ahead and back off.  Ladies be aware that it can lead to more than usual bleeding during menstruation.  Overall EPA/DHA=Awesome!

Vitamin D is another one that very few of us get enough of (roughly 60% of Americans are deficient).  I tried sitting around the office with my shirt off but it got weird.  And I found out these aren’t even UV lights!!  What a waste of two weeks.    There are five forms of Vit D.  They are cleverly named D1-D5, D3 being the one we really want.  Vit D is a hormone that promotes absorption of calcium and phosphorus (you want healthy bones right?).  If you are getting 45-60 mins of direct sunlight 4-5 times a week then you shouldn’t need to supplement.  I unfortunately defend freedom here at my desk and because of sequestration my request for a sunroof was denied.  Supplementation it is.  We recommend that you take 4-5000IU a day.  Take note that you can take too much Vit D and it can become toxic so don’t go guzzle a bottle.  Save the guzzling for fine wines and post WOD shakes.   Some of the benefits of Vit D are listed here and here. Vit D=good tan and strong bones.   Suns out-Guns out!

Protein supplementation is very popular in almost all sports.  Protein is a series of amino acids linked together in a chain. The links that hold these amino acids together are known as peptide links. Amino acids are the primary source for nitrogen in the body. Having a positive nitrogen balance is essential for proper muscle growth and repair. Within the medical community there has been no definitive agreement on any benefits.  We base our opinions on the countless number of athletes we have seen and coached that perform better and recover faster when using protein as a dietary supplement, myself included.  Where many new athletes go wrong is thinking that taking in the majority of their daily protein requirements via a shake is ok.  I’ll argue that while it’s not necessarily bad, it is far from optimal.  Eat real food and then supplement with the shake.  I only drink 1-2 shakes a day (or about 30% of my intake) depending on my training volume and that is strictly post WOD on training days.  Other than that I’m eating lean meats.  We will talk about how much protein you should eat another time.  General rule of thumb 1:4 ratio of P:C for post WOD intake, leave the fat out.  Protein=muy bueno and necessary for active individuals.

Creatine is the only other supplement that I think would be a welcome addition to the average athlete’s supplementation.  It is the most researched and tested supplement out there and safe to take.  Ladies you won’t get bulky don’t worry.  That requires Vitamin S, which is harvested in the far reaches of Mexico and Russia.  Long story short, phosphocreatine is naturally produced amino acid that is stored in muscles.  Later it is converted into ATP and used as ENERGY!!   They should bottle that sh!t!  Oh wait they do…. It’s called espresso.  Creatine can facilitate lean muscle growth and can also improve recovery rates for damages muscle fibers.  5-10g a day should suffice for the average Joe.  Creatine=good to go

Bottom line is this, dietary supplements are a dime a dozen and you get what you pay for.  First things first, you need to figure out if you need to supplement at all because it can be expensive.  Once you’ve determined a need then identify what is high quality and what is garbage.  Just like everything else we do, test and retest.   Don’t just take supplements blindly because somebody told you to.  That’s dumb.   Don’t be dumb!   You should know the why behind taking any supplement.  Keep a journal and track your progress and how you feel.  If nothing changes then it probably isn’t helping you.   Supplements can be a great tool to help you progress as an athlete or just improve your overall health.  They can be abused as well so do your homework and educate yourself.  Keep a journal so you have data that can help you make informed decisions about changes in your diet.  As always come talk to us.  We love to geek out on this crap!

Keep training hard and smash your weaknesses!