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100 Days of Fitness: Week 5 – Supplements

How long does it take to change your life? Follow author Robert Fure as he begins a 100 day trek to a fitter, healthier life by following this simple program. Today, we talk about what supplements you need, and which you don’t, on the 100 Days of Fitness program.

 

As always, never put anything into your body before fully researching whether it’s right for you and if your doctor agrees with your choices. This information is provided as Robert’s own experience and shouldn’t be considered medical advice. Read more legal mumbo jumbo here.

The supplement industry is a $16 billion dollar a year industry. That’s a whole lot of vitamins.  And Nitric Oxide vacillators. Protein bars. Protein shakes. Protein juices. Fat burners, blasters, annihilators.  Energy boosts, energy dumps, natural this, science that.  Flip open any fitness magazine and you’ll likely find a product that promises to zap your abs, blast your fat, and burn your butt.  Hopefully this comes as no surprise to you, but it’s all pretty much bullshit.

Supplements have a place in your diet whenever you’re changing the way you eat to affect your body.  If you’re eating to bulk, you probably need more calories and protein. If you’re eating to lose fat, you might not be getting all the vitamins and minerals that you need.  So not all supplements are bad.  Personally, I stick with only a few tried and tested varieties, most of which are focused on providing what my diet lacks.

On the 100 Days of Fitness program, you’re probably trying to lose some fat.  If you’re following the program correctly, you’re eating plenty of meats, proteins, and vegetables.  This should give you most of what you need to function as a happy, healthy person.  But, just to be on the safe side, you might be interested in taking a few supplements to bolster your vitamin intake.

I’m going to break down the few supplements I support below.  I won’t be recommending any of the crazy, $40 a bottle fat-burners.  Trust me – I’ve been down that road.  In my slightly younger days if it promised to burn more fat I took it.  I can say without a doubt, that 99% of the time, this stuff had no real noticeable effect.  Or, I should say, positive effect.  If you like a burning feeling in your throat and stomach (most fat burners have a large dose of capsaicin, the same stuff that is used to make pepper spray) or if you like dry eyes, peeing all the time, and the occasional bout of diarrhea (side-effects of diuretics) then by all means go ahead and take them.  You’ll get better results if you skip the junk science and focus on eating right and exercising. That said, here is what I take, or have taken.

A Multivitamin

Any time you reduce your caloric intake, you’re also reducing your intake of vitamins, minerals, and all that other stuff doctors say you should eat.  To replace, or supplement, these lost vitamins, a good multivitamin is a necessity.  I use some generic Men’s One-a-Day pill.  You don’t have to break the bank on these.  I sometimes use Animal Paks vitamin supplement, which are a tad bit more expensive, but have every vitamin under the sun in them.  They’re formulated, so they say, to provide more help to athletes.  Science just might back them up, as B vitamins are essential for strong muscles and growth, and the Animal Paks are full of them.  Most of the population won’t need that high of a dose though, and it does turn your pee electric yellow.

A Calcium Supplement

This may not apply to you (but it should), but I’ve stopped drinking a lot of milk after noting the sugar and carb content.  Milk’s not bad for you by any means and I’ll still drink a glass of 2% when I get a strong urge, but for the most part I’m relatively milk-free.  This creates a gap in my calcium intake, so I supplement with two pills and wham-bam, I’m back in the strong bones game.  Enough calcium is especially important for women, who are at higher risks for developing bone diseases and weakness.

Fish Oil

If you eat a lot of fish in a week, you might not need this one.  I have tuna once a week or so, so supplement with fish oil almost every day.  This stuff is the original “good fat” (most naturally occurring fats aren’t evil) and is said to help your heart, muscles, brain, and bones.  I go for a “no-burp” variety, which prevents the unpleasant after-taste of some of these pills, an after-taste that tastes exactly like raw mackerel skin.  Don’t ask how I know that.

Whey Protein

On a reduced calorie, high protein diet, I find Whey Protein to be a great supplement.  Its quick and easy to drink, delivers 20-30 grams of protein, only has a few carbs, and can fill you up for a few hours. I used to mix it with milk, which is delicious, but have started mixing it with water, which is not as tasty, but has fewer calories and fewer carbs.  I used Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard, which is a good mix of taste, protein, and price.

Creatine

I don’t often take creatine any more, but have used it in the past.  It’s one of the most tested and reviewed supplements of all time.  It’s found naturally in meats, so if you’re eating a decent amount of steak and hamburger, you probably don’t need this.  But if you’re leaning vegetarian, you’re probably lacking, or if you’re trying to build some muscle, it can’t hurt to add this to your diet.  Go for a cheaper brand and avoid one that comes loaded with tons of other “matrixes” of ingredients.  They’re just adding price, not results. Check out Bodybuilding.com’s guide, “All About Creatine,” for more info.

Caffeine

You can get this from diet drinks, teas, coffee, sugar-free energy drinks, or powder and pill forms, but science has routinely shown that caffeine helps mobilize fat into the bloodstream and fuel better workouts.  Just be careful with how much you take at a time so you don’t get the jitters or crash.  The recommended dose in pill form is around 200mg, though a cup of coffee has 150mg per 8oz cup.  Most people won’t need to supplement with caffeine pills, unless its right before exercising.  What you can do is drink tea or coffee before a workout, or two to three times a day for a boost.

When it comes to supplements, there are some things out there that are expensive, but do work.  However, I don’t think the cost justifies the generally minor increases in performance or weight loss.  Something like Alli costs upwards of $50 for a month and leaves you with potential anal leakage.  NO-Xplode is popular and worked for me, for about a month, but in reading the label, all I was doing was paying $35 a month for caffeine, creatine, and vitamins, stuff that if I bought separately would cost me about $12 a month.

On this program, diet is key.  Then exercise. Lastly, and least importantly, is supplementation.  Keep it simple, keep it safe.  Don’t go nuts and always follow the instructions on the labels.  The above ingredients are the ones that I use personally and may be right for you.  But only you know what you need and can tolerate, so use your brain.

My Results

A sort of a rough week with two bad days right before the weigh in.  Still, I’m down a pound with my weight at 242.5, for a total weight loss so far of 9 pounds.  I’m still losing an average of more than two pounds a week, which is slightly above what is considered “normal safe” weight loss.  So we’re still on track.  The important thing is, no matter what the scale says, only adjust positively.  Don’t give up.  Don’t see a pound of weight loss as “only a pound.”  You’re still a full pound of fat lighter. That amount of fat could fill a coffee cup to the brim.  Keep on keepin’ on, kids.

Also, feel free to ask questions below in the comments or to follow my progress (and ask more questions) on Twitter, where I can be found at @RejectRobert.

About

Robert Fure is a fitness, lifestyle, and entertainment writer living in Los Angeles. He is also a certified Personal Trainer and the Creator/Editor of Fit and Furious, an online outlet dedicated to the pursuit of a fit lifestyle. His entertainment work can be viewed at Film School Rejects.

 
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  • Will

    I am gettin’ in shape right now as well – after three long years in post-grad I put on a few extra pounds.

    I don’t look fat, like just walking down the street, you wouldn’t say that guy is fat, but I weigh a tonne. When people hear how much I actually weight they straight-up don’t believe me. 5″10 200.

    My question is about scales – should I use one or should I get one of those fancy body-fat scales. I just feel like since I will be adding muscle/taking away fat my actual weight isn’t pertinent. But, on the other hand, 200 for a 5″10 guy is way too much.

    Really like your column.

  • Steven

    I agree, if you are dieting and working out, the scale can be deceptive and discouraging. Body fat is where it’s all at. If my body fat is under 10%, who cares what the scale says right? In my experience, and from reading a lot on the subject, the body fat scales, or any other device that measures body fat through electrical impedance aren’t really that accurate. There are other more effective methods, such as the Bod Pod, or water displacement, they even have a dual density x-ray device that can distinguish between fat and bone and muscle. Those are super accurate but costly. The best method for accuracy and cost is probably still the “tried and true” calipers. However, in unskilled hands they have many flaws too. I read an article that said something about the tester needing around 100 tests before they could reliably provide accurate results. Most gyms have trainers that have well over that number of tests under their belts.

  • Robert

    @Will

    Glad you like the column. in regards to scales, most of the “body fat” monitoring scales aren’t worth the money and are inaccurate. They work by measuring a slight electric current sent through your body (sent through one foot and read through the other) which leads to a different number depending on the amount of water in your body. If you drink a glass of water and measure yourself, then go for a run and sweat a bit, you’ll get entirely different numbers. I say get a simple, reliable scale.

    @Steven

    Pretty much agreed. Though honestly, measuring the exact amount of body fat isn’t really that big of a deal. If its important, your doctor will handle it. But most people can tell, roughly, how much extra weight they’re carrying.

    Most people needn’t concern themselves with body fat numbers unless they’re going into a contest or something.

  • http://www.noxedge.com 12evanrey12

    Good day..This article that you post was so great and wonderful…i can’t imagine that only 100 days you can gain the body you want..it was so amazing…this awesome article that you post..thanks a lot…

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  • Matt B

    One thing to keep in mind here, and it only occurred to me because they are right after one and other on the list, is that caffeine has been shown to decrease the effectiveness of creatine supplements to the point where they’re useless. Something to keep in mind when going for a cup of coffee in the morning. (or supplements containing both, hinthint).

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