Supplements I take – The Colin DeWaay Stack
Supplements, the one thing that separates those who are in great shape and those who aren’t. What, you mean that’s not the case? Of course not, though unfortunately many people do believe they make that big of a difference. How often have you heard someone at your gym ask the big guy what supplements they take, as if those are the reason he is huge and you’re still you. Now I’m not saying there is no use for supplements, but they are just what their name is. They are to be used to supplement your diet. The truth is there are very few supplements on this literally multi-billion dollar market that have been shown through research on a consistent basis to be effective. So what I thought I’d do today is share with you exactly what I take and why.
If you weren’t aware I just wrapped up a series about supplements on Lifestyle and Strength where I looked at available research to try to determine what could be valuable and what is likely a waste of your money. If you click here you can get the last supplement I reviewed (L-Carnatine) and at the bottom there are links to all the other ones I covered as well. When I say I researched them, I mean actual peer-reviewed journals, not read an article in a magazine or a popular bodybuilding website. If you haven’t figured it out yet, those things are primarily there to sell you things, and they are heavily funded by the supplement industry… They are paid to tell you everything under the sun works.
Anyway without further ado here is the Colin DeWaay Stack:
Whey Protein Concentrate – Why do I specify whey protein concentrate instead of just whey protein in general? Because the more expensive “fast absorbing” protein everyone pays an arm and a leg for is a complete waste of money. Whey protein concentrate is not only the cheapest form of whey protein but also the most beneficial. It has all the vitamins and minerals that isolates and hydrolysates strip out to make it absorb faster. Concentrate is still plenty fast and as I’ve wrote about before in this three part series the anabolic window is a bit of myth to begin with. The speed at which your protein digests post workout really doesn’t matter at all, and it doesn’t even need to be whey protein at all if you don’t want it to be. The only time I’d suggest someone take an isolate over concentrate is if they were lactose intolerant as the lactose is stripped out in isolates as well. Bottom line – whey protein concentrate is a cheap and convenient way to get protein in throughout the day. Where else will you find 25 grams of protein for well under a buck, especially one that doesn’t need to be cooked? Unfortunately finding a protein that is only concenrate now days has become a little difficult. The supplement industry has fooled everyone into believing you must have their ridiculously over-priced proteins.
Creatine Monohydrate – Again I specify monohydrate for good reason. There are other forms of creatine such as creatine ethyl ester but research shows monohydrate to be just as if not more effective for a much smaller cost. There are literally hundreds of study’s out there showing the effectiveness of creatine on muscle size and strength. If there is any one compound that without a doubt has been shown to work, this is it, and the best part is it’s very cheap, 30 bucks worth will last me over a year.
Beta-Alanine– Behind creatine this is probably the 2nd most tried and true supplement on the market. There are dozens of studies to support it can help with muscle size, strength and exercise capacity especially when taken in combination with creatine. For more information including some research on this supplement you can this article I wrote last spring. Again this is a very cheap supplement when bought on it’s own. Again 30 bucks will cover me for a good year plus.
Fish Oil – The research revolving around fish oil’s health benefits are plentiful. From reducing inflammation to lowering blood pressure to lowering high triglycerides to reducing the risk of heart disease and even helping increase protein synthesis, fish oil to me is a must have on my list of supplements.
Melatonin – This is not one I take all the time like the others, but it is one I use sometimes. I tend to go through phases of being able to fall asleep with no problem and phases of struggling to fall asleep. When I struggle to fall asleep I take melatonin and it seems to help. The research seems to support this as well, including this meta-analysis on pubmed.
Branched chain amino acids (BCAA’s) – I’m less convinced BCAA’s are an important supplement than anything else. I basically use them as a “cover your bases” kind of thing. Generally when I work out I will come home and eat a meal. I use BCAA’s to cover my bases and make sure protein degradation is stopped in it’s tracks until I get that meal in and increase the protein synthesis again. Honestly though, it’s probably splitting hairs. The nice thing about BCAA’s instead of a protein shake right after a workout is your body won’t divert blood from the muscles to begin the digestion of the protein. This helps keep the inflammation of your muscles high post-workout (yes that’s a good thing, it helps start the rebuilding process.) Another relatively cheap one, 35 bucks for about a years worth.
Pre-workout mix – I like to use C4 when I feel like I need that extra pick me up. I’ve used a number of different mixes but C4 seems to give me sustained energy without any crash so I prefer it. It’s generally pretty expensive, but fortunately the last two years in a row I’ve picked up a really good deal on Cyber Monday and been able to stock up on the 60 serving sizes for just over 20 bucks. Pre-workouts aren’t necessary and I would say if you do well without them I definitely wouldn’t start using them. I don’t use them every time I workout, only when I feel like I’m dragging a bit.
That’s it for me currently. Doing some quick math it costs me roughly 60 bucks a month for supplements but 40 of that is whey protein which if I didn’t take that I’d have to get my protein from whole food sources which would actually be more expensive so in my mind it’s really only 20 bucks. There is one supplement that is not on this list that I may add to my stack once I begin cutting again and that’s HMB. The research on HMB seems to be pretty evenly split but there does seem to be growing evidence it can help maintain muscle mass while in a caloric restriction. Seems worth a shot and seeing how it works for me. Which brings me to my next point. I use these supplements not only based on research but because through trial and error I’ve seen them work for me. Everybody and every body is different and will react different. I often hear when I don’t recommend a certain supplement people argue with me and say it works for them. To that I say keep using it if it works for you, there could be a few reasons. For one if you are deficient in pretty much anything, supplementing with it is going to help you. The other is even if it “working” is the placebo effect, it still works right?
One last thing I’d like to mention is taking everything near it’s recommended dosages. People have a tendency to think if something is good than a ton of it must be really good. That’s generally not the case and you can have too much of anything. For example while fish oil has been shown to decrease the risk of a stroke, too much fish oil has been shown to increase the risk of a stroke or even an increased risk of cancer. More is not always better, better is better. As always if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask! Even if you’d like me to take a closer look at a certain supplement.