Q: I’ve just gotten back into bodybuilding after taking a break—for about 25 years. Back in the day supplements were very simple. We had milk or egg protein, multivitamins and liver tabs. I’ve been reading the muscle magazines again lately, and there are so many different supplements that I have no idea what I should be taking. What do you recommend for a guy my age, 47?
A: Welcome back to the wonderful world of iron—and IRON MAN magazine. I can certainly understand your confusion when it comes to supplements. New products are coming out so quickly that I can hardly keep up. Plus, sometimes I feel that I need to go back to school and get a degree in chemistry or pharmacology to figure out what those ingredients with the long chemical-sounding names preceded or followed by dashes, letters and numbers are—like 7b-hydroxy-dehdydroepiandroserone. Who the hell knows with that is?
When it comes to supplementation—and my workouts and diet—I like to keep things relatively basic and simple. A lot of people make diet and supplementation much more complicated than it needs to be. Here are the things that I use and recommend to all of my clients:
1) Multivitamin and -mineral. I like 1st Step For Energy, a liquid multivitamin.
2) Protein powder. Pro-Fusion by Muscle-Link rocks. It’s made of whey, micellar casein and egg.
3) Creatine monohydrate. Creasol by Muscle-Link is buffered for easy mixing and absorption.
4) Essential fatty acids. Udo’s Choice Oil Blend Gelcaps are my favorite.
All of those supplements add to your nutrition. The multivitamin and -mineral fills nutritional gaps in your diet. Even if you’re eating an extremely balanced diet, you may not be getting all of the vitamins and minerals your body needs. It’s senseless to let vitamin or mineral deficiencies slow your progress when all you have to do is take a daily dose of a vitamin-and-mineral supplement with your breakfast.
Protein powders have improved by leaps and bounds over the past 25 years. Not only are they more absorbable, but they have much higher protein efficiency ratios than ever before—and they taste good too. By using a quality blended protein powder like Pro-Fusion, you can rapidly elevate the amino acids in your bloodstream and keep them elevated for an extended period of time because it contains both fast-digesting and slow-digesting proteins. I keep a canister of Pro-Fusion in my office and whip up a quick shake whenever I’m too busy to stop and eat.
In my opinion creatine monohydrate is the best bodybuilding supplement to come out since powdered protein. Supplementing with creatine monohydrate has been shown to increase the creatine phosphate stores in muscle cells, which improves your anaerobic endurance. Bottom line: You can get an extra rep or two—or three—per set at a given weight. Over time all those extra reps add up to major muscle gains.
Creatine monohydrate also gives you the bonus of causing the muscle cell to retain a little more fluid. Since muscle is about 73 percent water, adding a little more fluid to the cell makes the muscle bigger and fuller, which stretches your skin more tightly and gives you a leaner look. Who doesn’t want to look bigger and leaner?
One more thing: I’m often asked when to take creatine. I like to add a serving of it to my postworkout protein drink.
Finally we get to the essential fatty acids. It’s important to get a blend of omega-3s, -6s and -9s. From a bodybuilding perspective the EFAs are important for testosterone production, as well as muscle and skin elasticity. I’ve been asked quite often (since I turned 50 a couple of years ago) how it is that my skin looks so good, especially considering all of the tanning I’ve done for bodybuilding. I think the biggest thing is my intake of EFAs.
Let’s not stop there, though. EFAs have great health benefits besides the cosmetic ones. They have powerful anit-inflammatory properties, and that’s extremely important to people like us, who inflict a lot of punishment on our bodies. Two other fantastic benefits of supplementing with EFAs are the effects they have on brain function and the tremendous influence they have on your cholesterol profile. Several of my family members have dramatically improved their LDL-to-HDL ratios in just a few months by supplementing with Udo’s Choice Oil Blend.
Again, those are the basics when it comes to supplementation. All of the supplements I’ve discussed are healthful and add to your nutrition. Remember to follow the recommended doses, and it’s always a good idea to consult your physician before adding new supplements to your nutrition program. Check back with Shredded Muscle next month when I discuss the nutritional supplements that I take—and recommend—that affect your hormone profile, which includes testosterone, growth hormone and cortisol.
Train hard and eat clean.
Note: Last month in my report on the Texas Shredder Classic I mentioned my business association with Revelation Fitness/RevEx. I’m no longer a part of that company. You can find me on the Web at www.Shredderbuilt.com, www.TexasStateNaturals.com and www.TexasShredderClassic.com.
Editor’s Note: See Dave Goodin’s blog at www.IronManMagazine.com. Click on the blog selection in the top menu bar. To contact Dave directly, send e-mail to TXShredder@aol.com. IM