If you have been exercising for any extended period of time the same question seems to always present itself, “what supplements should I be taking?”. I myself have asked this question numerous times. Let’s first start by saying that supplementation is just that, supplementing. Whether your goal is aesthetics, performance or just general health it all comes down to what you put on your plate. Without a proper and appropriate nutritional plan there is no firm foundation to build upon and everything will fall.
Now that the disclaimer is out of the way let’s get to the fun stuff! I assume that if you are reading this that your primary mode of fitness transportation is CrossFit. Why do we CrossFit? One, to lose weight and look great naked. Two, to compete with others to push ourselves to the next level, and look great naked! To some degree we are all a little vain, don’t worry its human nature. We strive to be the strongest of the pack to assert dominance. What better way to assert dominance without physical harm to others than simply looking like you could destroy them! Having said that, I have chosen what I believe to be the best 3 supplements that have an effect on both performance and body composition.
Number 1: Whey Protein Powder
I know, I know. You probably thought the number 1 supplement would be some crazy herb from South East Asia that increases testosterone, cuts body fat in half and does your taxes. Nope, good old fashioned Whey protein takes the cake. This has been a staple in performance enhancement for the better part of a century and continues to this day. When: Within 30 minutes of finishing up a WOD is the best time for recovery. If you are concerned with getting in enough full meals in the day to meet your calorie and protein needs you can throw in a shake to round out the day. Dosage: Rule of thumb is between 0.5 and 1.2 grams per pound of bodyweight. Too broad? Get with a coach and they can help you out on what would be best for you.
Number 2: Fish Oil
The wonderful world of scaring people away with fishy burps awaits you! Only kidding, if you choose a quality fish oil. Fish oil has tons of benefits for the body most importantly supporting healthy cholesterol levels, maintaining strong bones, and aiding in central nervous system function. There are a wide variety of fish oils on the market, so do your homework. When: In general between 2-3 servings per day is typical for most products out there. I would suggest timing these in a way that keeps a dosage from falling right after or right before a workout due to possible gastrointestinal distress. Dosage: The recommended dosing for general health ranges as low as 250-500mg of a combined EPA and DHA total. While this is fine for general health, higher activity level individuals can require upwards of 3-5grams per day. I would not recommend jumping right into the large dosages as just mentioned, but definitely adding this supplement to your diet is a must.
Number 3: Melatonin
This one was a hard choice. While I can make a very strong argument for BCAA’s, Creatine, Caffeine, HMB, Beta-alanine, and a laundry list of others, melatonin stands alone in one regard. When we consider exercise most of the time we think with a go-go, 110% effort, run through brick walls attitude. That is totally fine and honestly will get you to great places. However, what happens when the workout ends? The Incredible Hulk isn’t always incredible! He has to turn back into Bruce Banner and recover before he goes completely crazy in another fight. Our bodies have to be able to recover, and do so quickly because the next workout is only 24 hours away! This is where sleep is the winner. We recover best while in a state of sleep called REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. The faster your body can get into this state of sleep the better you can recover. This is where melatonin comes in. I have heard people say before that they take melatonin and don’t get tired. Well it isn’t a horse tranquilizer it’s a sleep aid. This hormone is naturally produced in the pineal gland and helps with regulation of sleep patterns. We fluctuate in and out of deep sleep and this is the hormone responsible for those fluctuations. The regulation of how much melatonin we produce is light dependent. In our culture it is not out of the ordinary to have every light and television on in the house up until the point we get in bed. Even at that point we are still bombarding our eyes with light from those tiny screens on our phones. In an ideal world the lights would be out an hour before we actually fall asleep which would allow our bodies to produce enough of the hormone to push us into deep sleep. Since that world does not exist, an exogenous form of the hormone can help us out. When: typically 30 minutes before bedtime. Dosage: for adults it varies widely between 0.2 mg to 20mg in most supplements. Just like with most supplements it is dependent on the person so start light and work your way up.
There are thousands upon thousands of supplements out there for you to try. I based my choices off what I find to be the best for me and provide the most bang for the buck. If you are interested in trying out any supplements there is years of experience at your disposable between your coaches at BayWay CrossFit. One of the benefits of CrossFit is having a coaching staff and community that wants you to be the best possible you that you can be. We are all here for you and will help guide you in any way possible.