Supplements: What I Take for Bodybuilding & Wellness

  My daily stack of vitamins

My daily stack of vitamins

When looking at supplementation, I try to keep in mind what the actual term means and find the holes in my diet. Those nutritional holes can be filled with supplements. It is important to do research when buying and taking supplements. Beyond just reading what others have to say, your body and personal experience is going to be the most important factor. Try different things and always track how you feel. Learn from personal experience what is working best to enhance your performance, recovery, immunity, energy, mental health, and overall wellbeing.

From personal experience, I've definitely had supplements do next to nothing for me and others that actually adversely effected me. For example, I do not take BCAAs during a workout because they make me nauseous... but that's just me. For several people, they work great during a workout. Some people can suck down protein powder and have no issues, other people will experience extreme bloating and stomach issues. Implement different things a little at a time so that you know what is effecting you and what isn't. If you start taking everything at once, it will be hard to tell what is a problem causer and what is beneficial.

Below I will go over what I take in the areas of vitamins, pre-workout, post-workout, superfoods, and things to help with relaxation. Some categories include actual foods but I consider this to still fall into the supplementation category because these are the little items that help me round out my diet and aid in my training.


Full Beginner Bulk program available soon


  Bodybuilding Progress: August 2017

Bodybuilding Progress: August 2017

  A year of progress, 2016 to 2017

A year of progress, 2016 to 2017


VITAMINS

I take my stack of vitamins after my breakfast and encourage taking vitamins with a meal. I have been using the majority of this list for several years.

CALCIUM, MAGNESIUM, ZINC (333mg, 133mg, 5mg 1-3 times daily)

This is a combination vitamin that I take up to 3 times a day. This vitamin helps contribute to my bodybuilding by aiding in recovery and the body restoring itself. The calcium helps to lower blood pressure, stimulate nerves, and contributes to bone strength. These are all important in muscle repair and growth. Magnesium is a secret weapon for bodybuilders. This mineral helps regulate heartbeat, blood sugar levels, reduces hypertension, combats fatigue, prevents soreness, and helps the mind/body relax. This mineral is your friend anytime you are training your body hard and need it to recover quickly. Zinc helps to assist in protecting immunity, aids new cell growth, and helps with protein synthesis. That last one is what bodybuilders really want to see because more efficient protein synthesis means better muscle repair.

ZINC (50mg 1 time daily)

Yep, you read it right... I take even more Zinc. This is one vitamin I really feel a difference with. I eat a LOT of whole foods and Zinc aids in the enzyme reactions of protein and carbohydrate metabolism. In other words, it helps you utilize your macros to the best of your body's ability. In addition, it is a strong immunity booster. Less time sick means more time in the gym. Lastly, as a transgender man I try to look for ways to boost my body's testosterone as much as I can. Zinc increasing levels of a pituitary hormone that stimulates testosterone production. Zinc also helps block the conversion of testosterone to estrogen. In other words, it keeps your testosterone levels as strong as they can be and helps stabilize them. 

VITAMIN D-3 (5,000 IU 1 time daily)

Our bodies do not hold onto Vitamin D well and need exposure to the sun in order to keep producing it. Some of us really do not hold it well, I am one of those people. In the winter, where the sun is minimal in the Midwest, my level of Vitamin falls very very low. Low levels can cause seasonal depression, a weakened immune system, and a weakening of the bones. I take a high dosage daily, year round, to keep my body filled with this sunshine vitamin. I take Vitamin D mostly as an aid to my mental health. It also helps with healthy skin, immunity, and anxiety. It also helps with soreness, muscle aches, and the prevention of fractures. All three of those benefits can greatly help bodybuilders and athletes.

VITAMIN A (25,000 IU 1 time daily)

My skin has always given me some trouble. From acne to infections, I have been susceptible. One of my main fighters in acne and healing the scars from past acne is Vitamin A. As someone who is transgender and on hormones, I find that keeping good care of my skin is essential. Hormonal changes often lead to acne and I try to fight that where I can. Vitamin A cuts down on excess sebum production, enhances the strength of skin, helps detoxify the skin, and repairs damaged tissue... all of which help prevent and repair acne. In addition, Vitamin A is good for mental health since it protects against fatigue, insomnia, and depression. It also lowers cholesterol, repairs damage in tissue, and promotes muscle growth.

BIOTIN (10,000 mcg 1 time daily)

I take Biotin for two main reasons... promotion of healthy energy levels and to prevent thinning hair. Biotin helps keep your metabolism running at a steady and faster level. With the addition of regular training, this helps to keep energy production from food at a max level. Low levels of Biotin in the body can lead to hair loss which is irreversible. There may not be a ton of evidence proving that Biotin helps with getting thicker hair, there is evidence that states it helps you keep the hair you have. For transgender men on testosterone, hair loss is common. I take Biotin to aid in keeping the little hair I already have and to promote healthy skin for facial hair growth. A bonus benefit of Biotin is that it can reduce inflammation which is an aid to bodybuilders who regularly put their muscles under stress.

FOLIC ACID (800 mcg 1 time daily)

Folic Acid is usually associate with prenatal vitamins. There are numerous studies stating that woman should take Folic Acid before getting pregnant to help prevent birth defects. Beyond that though there are benefits to this B vitamin that are less talked about. I take Folic Acid as a mood regulator. It has been shown to help with depression and sleep problems, which are issues that I have experienced in the past. As a bodybuilder, I find the benefits in the area of muscle pain and nerve pain of interest. Reducing soreness is a common battle with building muscle. So far, I have had no negative effects in using Folic Acid and since it is part of the B Vitamin family, which is often depleted in our modern day food agricultural system, I continue to take it.

  It seems like a lot, but it's cost effective to buy in large quantities.

It seems like a lot, but it's cost effective to buy in large quantities.

NIACIN (Flush-free, 500 mg 1 time daily)

If you take Niacin, be sure to buy the "flush-free" formulas. I've taken it before without this and it was horrible. Within 20 minutes, my whole neck was bright red and on fire. It causes a heat like itchy sensation that takes an hour or two to dissipate. Niacin is one of my favorite vitamins, I really feel a difference in my energy levels when I take this. It helps prevent an afternoon crash in my enthusiasm for the day. Niacin helps to improve blood circulation, which keeps the heart firing strong. This is also a benefit for those of us who have a job where we need to sit for long periods of time, blood circulation is aided and this can prevent achy muscles. Niacin also aids restful sleep which can further help with energy during the day. Beyond this, Niacin has a laundry list of benefits. Speaking personally, it has helped me with leg aches, sleep, skin health, and daily energy levels. This is one vitamin that I will not give up, it's a mighty little pill.

NIACIN (Flush-free, 500 mg 1 time daily)

If you take Niacin, be sure to buy the "flush-free" formulas. I've taken it before without this and it was horrible. Within 20 minutes, my whole neck was bright red and on fire. It causes a heat like itchy sensation that takes an hour or two to dissipate. Niacin is one of my favorite vitamins, I really feel a difference in my energy levels when I take this. It helps prevent an afternoon crash in my enthusiasm for the day. Niacin helps to improve blood circulation, which keeps the heart firing strong. This is also a benefit for those of us who have a job where we need to sit for long periods of time, blood circulation is aided and this can prevent achy muscles. Niacin also aids restful sleep which can further help with energy during the day. Beyond this, Niacin has a laundry list of benefits. Speaking personally, it has helped me with leg aches, sleep, skin health, and daily energy levels. This is one vitamin that I will not give up, it's a mighty little pill.

VITAMIN E (1,000 IU 1 time daily)

Each time I take Vitamin E, I'm reminded of my Grandma who used Vitamin E for years. Beyond taking the capsule, she would often cut one open and apply it to a cut, scar, or spot on her skin. Watching this I learned early on that Vitamin E was the go-to remedy for healing the skin. There are numerous benefits to the heart via Vitamin E, but I mainly take it for healthy skin. This vitamin aids in keeping the skin moisturized, supple, and regenerative. I mainly use it as a combatant to acne and the healing of acne scars.


  My lift sessions are 1-1.5 hours long and require proper nutrition to get through effectively.

My lift sessions are 1-1.5 hours long and require proper nutrition to get through effectively.

PRE-WORKOUT

I keep it super simple for my pre-workout. I can sum it up in one word... carbs. The following are not what most people consider "supplements" but I consider these my supplements to boost performance pre-workout. Using these sources of quick releasing energy has been more effective for me than taking a pre-workout powder, such as BCAAs.

ORANGES (1 navel orange, 20min prior to workout)

Oranges are full of quick releasing carbohydrate sugars that do not cause an insulin spike. This means no crash mid workout. They also alkalize the body which helps keep oxygen available to your cells. The more oxygen that is available helps to aid in your ability to push harder. Plus, they contain magnesium which helps with muscle recovery.

GRAPES (1 cup, 20min prior to workout)

Grapes contain the perfect amount of carbs to get you fired up. They are also full of water and a great way to boost hydration prior to a workout. Grapes contain B6 for a natural energy boost and contain magnesium which helps with soreness. Grapes contain amounts of iron which help prevent fatigue and can help with that mid workout energy slump. They also boost immunity, so think of them as a protection against gym germs.


  My top choice Creatine supplement

My top choice Creatine supplement

  Protein powders from top companies only

Protein powders from top companies only

POST-WORKOUT

Post-workout is notorious for protein talk. There is a boatload of information out there on this topic, so I won't go into "why" you need protein after a workout other than that it simply helps aid in muscle repair and growth. Beyond protein, I actually find carbohydrate replenishment more of an immediate need. If I don't consume some carbs post-workout and get my glycogen back up, I get really dizzy and tired. In addition to protein and carbs, I put emphasis on muscle recovery and what will aid with soreness, stiffness, and repair. That way, I can get back in the gym the next day feeling strong and ready.

CREATINE (5 mg post workout)

I take my Creatine in the form of a recovery powder that is produced by Legion Athletics called "recharge". Creatine is proven time and again to produce better strength results through muscle repair and building. I like this powder because it also contains L-Carnitine which helps improve muscle repair. It also includes Corsolic Acid which helps aid carbohydrate consumption. Find more details on this supplement here

PROTEIN POWDER (1-2 scoops, post workout)

I don't always take protein powder. If I am able to eat a large meal post workout, I'll do that and make sure that I incorporate a high amount of whole food plant based protein sources. I use protein powder as a quick solution to fill in my macros on days where I'm running low on my protein numbers.

There are so many protein powders out there, but a few key factors to look for when choosing one. First, you need to know your body and it's intolerances. If you can handle whey and you eat animal products, there are a ton of powders to consider choosing. If you can't handle whey on your digestive system or if you eat a plant-based diet, there are several plant based options to choose from (most derived from pea protein or soy protein). In general, look for these key things... low carbohydrates, low fat, and protein content above 20g per serving. Anything less than that is a waste of your money and time. Plant based sources will have a higher carbohydrate content than whey sources, so be conscious of this when working into your macros. Lastly, watch for weird wacky flavorings. The sugar content should be as low as possible. 

I recommend the following companies and they are all available on Amazon... Legion Athletics, BPI, and Vega. All three of these companies make excellent products but beyond that, they provide a ton of free education resources and are making a positive impact on the fitness industry. All three are owned by stand up individuals that have an outstanding reputation for quality and honesty.

 I typically just have a big post workout meal... like pancakes. Find pancake recipes  here .

I typically just have a big post workout meal... like pancakes. Find pancake recipes here.

PEANUT POWDER (4-5 tbsp, post workout)

Peanut powder is my go-to protein booster. I use this all the time. In the morning, it goes on top of my oatmeal. I use it as a substitute for syrup on pancakes. Post-workout, I eat in with a banana for a perfect refuel snack. The macros are great for post-workout nutrition (5g Carbs, 1.5 g Fat, and 5g Protein per 2 Tbsp of powder). Purchase this powder off Amazon for a great deal.

BANANA (1 medium post workout)

My go-to post workout carb source is the good old humble banana. Bananas are by far the most cost effective carb source you can get. They also stabilize your blood sugar which keeps you calm after a workout. They improve digestion which can help with your big meal of the day, mine is often after I workout. They also help with muscle soreness and recovery. They are truly the perfect all in one!


SUPERFOODS

I'll admit it, I'm a superfood junkie. I use them in a variety of ways and applications. Over the years, I've been able to find good sources and stick with them. I buy in large quantities to save money. With our current food system in the depleted nutritional state that it is in, superfoods help to fill nutritional gaps.

ACAI POWDER (1 tsp serving)

I use Acai powder on my oatmeal or on pancakes. I do not cook it, I just sprinkle it on top to preserve nutrient values. Acai is high in antioxidants, fiber, and even contains healthy fats. I use it to promote healthy skin, immunity, anti-aging, and improve mental cognition.

MACA POWDER (1 tsp serving)

I use Maca powder in my oatmeal. You could easily blend it into your coffee, smoothies, and shakes as well. Maca helps with hormone levels, energy levels, stamina, memory, and focus. It has a ton of essential fatty acids. This is a much cheaper way to get these fatty acids than buying in capsule form. It is a great antioxidant and best taken daily for stackable effects.

CACAO POWDER (1 tbsp serving)

Oh boy... I love Cacao powder. Talk about a bang for your buck! This stuff is full of nutrition, vitamins, and minerals. For plant based individuals, look no further for an excellent source of Iron. Cacao is full of Magnesium, antioxidants, and Calcium. It is a bodybuilders best friend for muscle soreness and an energy boost. You can not beat the cost value of Cacao, pick up a bag and start mixing into your oatmeal, pancakes, smoothies, shakes, and even savory dishes. Check out some of my recipes featuring Cacao, here. In addition to Cacao powder, try Cacao Nibs for a crunchy bite with all the same benefits.

  Acai powder has great flavor

Acai powder has great flavor

  Chia seeds are affordable in bulk

Chia seeds are affordable in bulk

CHIA SEEDS, FLAX SEEDS, AND HEMP HEARTS (1 tbsp per serving)

Instead of buying an Omega supplement, I get my essential fatty acids from whole food sources. These sources are more complete, contain protein, and are a LOT more cost effective. All of these are full of Omegas, fiber, protein, and fatty acids. These essential fats help contribute to muscle repair and regeneration. 

MUSHROOM POWDERS (serving sizes vary)

Mushroom powders are quickly growing in popularity and for good reason. They are full of adaptogens and immunity boosters. They are cognitive superchargers and can help with a myriad of issues from metal health to insomnia. To find a list of the mushrooms that I use, check out my blog post on how to supercharge your coffee by clicking here.

ASHWAGANDHA (1/2 tsp once daily)

Another superfood I can't do without... this is an incredible value for your dollars. This root has been used for over 3,000 years to aid with a long list of physical and mental wellness factors. It lowers cortisol (the stress hormone), reduces stress and anxiety, boosts testosterone, increase muscle mass, reduces inflammation, and more. Those last few are essential to bodybuilders and athletes. I take mine in my coffee but you can easily blend it into a smoothie as well. It is bitter though, so mix it into something strong. 


REALAXATION / SLEEP

Over the past few years, I've struggled with issues ranging from anxiety to insomnia. These are some of the key supplements that help me relax achieve a state of calm.

JIA WEI XIAO YAO WAN (4-8 tea pills)

I found this mix of herbs called "Free & Easy Wanderer" after searching things to help with anxiety. These are one of the few things that I still take once and awhile when I feel chest pressure from anxiety. I find that these help calm me down and take the edge off. They have had no adverse side effects on me and they can help with short bouts of depression. 

CHAMOMILE TEA (2 bags per cup)

What can I say... it works. It's a simple but effective tea at calming down and getting a restful sleep. I try to drink it at least an hour before going to bed or else I have to pee too much. This tea is great mixed with a little lemon juice and a tsp of honey. I don't think it works like magic though. This is best used as a ritual tea. Sip slowly and remove yourself from distraction. I find that this method works best.

LAVENDER ESSENTIAL OIL (in a diffuser, not ingested)

I place about a 1/2 tsp of this essential oil into a diffuser and let it run at night. It really helps with my sleep and calming me down. This can also be sprayed onto your pillow or sheets, just let it soak in first. I find this really effective at reaching a sleepy state.

  Bodybuilding Progress: June 2017

Bodybuilding Progress: June 2017

  Bodybuilding Progress: June 2017

Bodybuilding Progress: June 2017


WHERE TO BUY

I can't encourage using Amazon enough. If you have Amazon Prime, then your shipping is covered. I have been able to find all of the supplements above through Amazon and the access to reviews is essential. If you have any questions on specific brands, where to find them, or any other inquiries on this post feel free to contact me.


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I am not a nutritionist or personal trainer. This post article is based off my own research and personal experience with nutrition, supplementation, and training. For more in depth information on developing your fitness and nutrition plan, click here.

TTYL