Thursday, February 10, 2011

Supplements, Part 2: How?

Fish oil does the body good.

Part 1 was posted back in September and I intended to do this right behind the first half. How to write it succinctly became another conundrum. To keep it simple, I won't go into every minute detail but will offer resources at the end of the post. And I'd like to note a lot of my nutritional background comes from the Precision Nutrition team.

There are a variety of protein powders differing due to their derived source, processing, and rate of digestion/absorption.

A common type is whey protein that comes from milk. Casein protein, which is similar to it, digests slower. Whey protein itself can be hydrolyzed weakening its bonds allowing for quicker absorption, albeit priced higher. Aside from these two, there are vegan-friendly options such as hemp, pea, rice, and soy-based proteins.

This supplement is useful either in kicking up the protein profile in a meal - or shake - or to aid in minimizing catabolic effects of strength training (the breaking down of muscle). This is where hydrolyzed whey comes into play. Alternatively, branched chained amino acids [BCAAs] are the building blocks of protein and are absorbed the fastest.

So how should you use it? During a workout session, the exact amount varies person-to-person and their goals. Half a scoop to one full scoop is usually enough. If it's only one ingredient in a large shake you're creating, 1-2 scoops should be sufficient. I use Optimum Nutrition, but I've heard great things about True Protein, although the S&H is a bit pricey.

Lastly on protein powder, I'll advise against protein blends. The powder contains protein from multiple sources - like egg albumen, whey, & casein - but often results in a very unhappy stomach. Use it at your own risk.

Be sure you are satisfied with the mixability of your powder, taste, and do a little research online for reviews.

Greens Powder

First, be sure you can stomach whichever brand you purchase - my go to is Greens+. I've gotten use to the texture, but it's incredibly nauseating to others. I add half the serving size into water or a shake. The latter masks it very well and can be hardly noticed.

I rarely use the label's suggested three 3 teaspoons since I consume vegetables and fruits with other meals during the day. If you're eating plenty of each, at least +5 servings a day, then you probably don't need this in your inventory.

If you're looking to use this primarily in shakes, leafy greens are the better option. Tossing kale, baby spinach, or a similar vegetable into your blender will be more beneficial than the powder. Buy whichever you prefer and store it in your freezer to avoid spoilage.

Fish Oil

If you decide to start using fish oil, consume your body fat percentage in grams spread throughout the day for the first 2-4 weeks. After that lower the dosage to half your body fat percentage. Someone at 18% BF would take 6g (18g per day) with breakfast, lunch, and dinner then after the hyperdosing period switch to 3g (9g per day) with the three meals. I picked these recommendations up from John Berardi over at the PN forums.

Brand-wise, if you want a liquid version then Carlson's lemon-flavored fish oil is a popular choice. If you prefer capsules like myself, I believed the best priced is Kirkland's from Costco or again True Protein.

Vegans can opt for algae oil. The dose recommendations above don't apply when using algae oil. For those interested, check out V-Pure or Omega-Zen-3.

If I had to select only one supplement for use, it's definitely fish oil. I highly doubt people are consuming enough omega-3 fatty fish on a daily basis. It's unlikely and the diet disparity between the amount of omega-6's to 3's ratio is large.


I was researching multivitamin information back in July and it was a confusing topic. I've come to the conclusion not to worry about it. Simply grab one that won't make you queasy. Men and postmenopausal women should select an iron-free product and women who haven't gone through "kill everyone" mode yet, take a multivitamin that has iron.

Certain brands suggest taking 3 pills a day and have high vitamin doses. In a situation like that, take only 1-2 pills. One with food, one without. Certain vitamins are only absorbed with foods while the opposite is true for other vitamins.

Additionally, take one and toss it in vinegar to see if it breaks apart. If it doesn't, chances are your stomach acid isn't breaking it up either.

Brands are endless, but New Chapter seems pretty good from what I've seen.
The supplement industry is huge. The ones I've described here are my staples. Another supplement that is widely used and safe is creatine. Only 3-5g is needed. (I personally just don't use it.)

Are supplements I've excluded useless? Not quite.
Are they necessary? Not at all.
Do they have their merit? They do.

At the end of the day, "it depends" is the big question for optimizing your own goals. What one person may need, another person might not. I've found the above supplements help me optimize my gains a tad more than I would on my diet alone.

In my own opinion, it's never all-or-nothing. Feel free to dabble here and there to see what benefits you.

Here are a few worthwhile reads on supplements,
All About Protein
All About Greens Supplements
All About Fish Oil
All About Vitamins & Minerals
All About Where Vitamin Supplements Come From
All About Creatine
The Science of Nutrient Timing, Parts 1 and 2
You may need to register to the site to be able to read the articles, but it's free*. They cover the topics very well for anyone interested in reading more.

Got it? Good.

*If you need to be a registered member, use this link.


  1. Good post! I'm now a follower on your blog! :)

  2. Thank you!

    Your comment made me realize I forgot to add two other links.


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