by Phil Kaplan
years of being asked, "Does This Work?" . . .
hundreds of hours dispelling myths about "miraculous
new supplements" . . . .
After helping trainers
and exercisers alike understand that no supplement will be
a solution . . . . I received the following question:
Phil, you have been a great resource for understanding what
supplements are scams and why they don't work, but there must
be some that you are in favor of. Do you take any supplements?
In response, I've decided to share
a list of the few supplements I personally find efficacious,
although not every supplement listed is for everyone.
I do have some of these products available at my Superstore,
but always emphasize, they are the "extra!"
You don't "need" any of them. With a concern
for the right nutrition, moderate aerobic exercise, and a
concern for muscle, the following can act as aids. Here
goes . . .
- Optimal nutrition, both for health and performance, will
always stem from supportive ingestion of a balanced mix of
nutrients. Biologically valuable proteins, energy producing
complex carbs, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and essential fats.
In the real world, with jobs, families, and obligations, it's
not easy to get actual meals as frequently as would be ideal.
A meal replacement powder, containing such a balance of nutrients
in a formula free from simple sugars and hydrogenated fats
makes adherence far simpler. The formula I sell the
most of is my own EAT! Formula.
Of course I'm a bit biased, but I created the formula attempting
to fill in the flaws inherent in many of the commercial products.
When I'm on the road, EAT! comprises two of my daily "meals."
info on Meal Replacements ]
is the most abundant amino acid in the bloodstream and in
muscle tissue. It is also highly involved in immune
function and gastrointestinal health. Supplementing
with L-Glutamine minimizes the likelihood that if your immune
system is called upon, or you suffer any stress, muscle will
be broken down to meet systemic Glutamine needs. If
I were rating value in terms of stars, I'd give this one four
stars! I take it in the morning and it's a part of my
post-workout formula. Which leads me to . . .
Workout Recovery Drink - Four star value in terms
of supplementation. The post workout state offers
a rare opportunity to replenish muscle glycogen, to re-hydrate
the body, to replenish lost electrolytes, and to facilitate
greater protein synthesis. You want a mix of glucose,
fructose, amino acids, minerals, and L-Glutamine. The formula
I personally use, and the one I sell the most of is my own
info on Post-Workout Recovery ]
Monohydrate - This is the only supplement with
claims to enhance muscle size and strength that I've ever
wholeheartedly endorsed specifically for that purpose.
Oral supplementation with creatine monohydrate can increase
intramuscular storage of PC, phosphocreatine, a fuel reserve,
allowing for greater muscle performance. It also has
a tendency to attract more water into each muscle cell.
Since muscles are primarily water, this has a muscle enhancing
gets a thumbs up.
info on Creatine ]
Hydroxycitric acid is an extract of the herb Garcinia
Cambogia. Despite some misleading advertising, it is
NOT a fat burner. It appears as if HCA can interfere with
the enzyme that converts unused carbohydrates (ingested carbs
not readily stored as fuel or burned up to meet energy needs)
into triglycerides. This can reduce the likelihood of
fat accumulation from carbohydrate intake. I find it
best to use this on a "high carb, high calorie"
day, which can really add to the muscle "pump."
Personally, I use it as a "maybe it has virtue"
insurance policy on the higher carb days that follow "protein
days" in my programs. It is not a panacea and should
not be mistaken as license to eat unsupportive carbs (simple
sugars), but I believe for those who eat clean most of the
time there may be some benefit to consuming HCA prior to carb-complete
containing caffeine and ephedrine
were oversold, over-hyped, and potentially dangerous.
The danger is in misuse, overuse, and abuse. These products
can be life threatening if administered to individuals with
heart ailments, hypertension, or metabolic disorders.
In individuals who are free of risk factors, who have a comprehensive
understanding of nutrition and exercise, and who are modifying
their nutrition programs to shed fat quickly, these products
can act as aids. They can in fact increase caloric burn
and, if used sensibly, facilitate slight increases in fat
release. I am always careful to publicly discourage
their use as "weight loss solutions," but, as I've
indicated in several other articles at the site, have counseled
athletes in careful usage for benefit. I never suggest
anyone use these products for more than four weeks in a row
and I always suggest use is limited to three days per week.
Overuse can not only be risky, but it can also nullify the
effects. The body fast develops a tolerance to caffeine
and ephedrine. Sporadic and careful use in pre-screened
individuals is, in my opinion, the only efficacious use of
these products. After the FDA came down on ephedrine and prevented
supplement sellers from selling it as a fat-burner, new ephedra
free thermogenics hit the market, many of them containing
synephrine. My suggestion is,
unless you really understand what's in there and what effects
it can have on your body, these are best left on the shelf
by anyone seeking true health and fitness.
Vitamin C -
the benefits are deserving of a complete article covering
Vitamin C alone. I'll get to it sometime soon.
For now, simply accept that it is a powerful antioxidant,
it stands the test of time and research as an immune booster,
and is so integral in energy and metabolism it is another
supplement deserving of a four star rating. Usual multi-vitamin
dosages are far too low to have impact. A minimum of
1,000 mg per day is almost a must for athletes or exercise
enthusiasts, with some athletes supplementing with up to 3-5
grams per day.
- A B-complex formula containing 100 mg of Thiamine (Vitamin
B1) and a proportionate array of the B vitamins can help offset
some of the effects of stress and ensure micronutrient needs
are being met for optimal energy production.
Q10 (CoQ10) - this is an antioxidant that has proven
promising both in enhancing athletic performance of endurance
athletes and in reducing likelihood of heart disease.
It acts as a free radical scavenger and aids in intercellular
- since one in six Americans is affected by the herpes virus
(not necessarily the sexually transmitted disease - this includes
those who suffer regular bouts with cold sores - herpes simplex),
I sell a good amount of this amino acid. L-Lysine seems
to be quite effective at reducing the duration of outbreaks,
and if taken in time, may prevent outbreaks completely.
For regular prevention, 500 mg - 1,000 mg per day is often
used. If an outbreak strikes, dosages might range up
to 2500 mg spread out in 500 mg doses throughout the day.
- an amino acid that has a discernable stimulant effect and
enhances mental alertness. This should not be used as
a regular every day supplement, but can act as a pre-workout
aid on occasion.
- this is another stimulant that also has properties that
can aid in male sexual performance. For additional info
see my article on "Herbal
E - despite rumors pulled out of isolated research,
the benefits of 400 i.u. of Vitamin E per day far outweigh
any potential risk. An antioxidant with proven benefit
in resisting many toxins that we are faced with in modern
society including both primary and second hand smoke.
After studying the research, I personally am committed to
taking 400 i.u. of Vitamin E every single day.
Formula with calcium
as primary ingredient - rather than attempting to "build"
food by taking individual minerals (i.e. calcium for bone
density), it's best to get a synergistic blend of minerals
in valuable proportions to each other. I've been recommending
(and using) Twinlab
Multi-Mineral caps since I can remember. Minerals
are actually the framework of the body and are called upon
with greater demand in individuals who regularly exercise.
This one is almost up there with Vitamin C as having supplemental
importance from the position of optimal health, performance
There you have it! A complete
list without any reference to scams and rip-offs. With
few exceptions, I can safely say the great majority of nutritional
supplements targeting the weight loss market, the fitness
market, and the aging, are sold based on clever marketing
rather than true value. With the list above, you know
your purchases are not going to waste.
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Phil Kaplan's Fitness is located at
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Wellington, Florida 33414
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