My Universal Methods
People often ask me which supplements I take. Well, I am going to lay it all out on the line and tell you my supplement secrets. In this article, I'll explain which supplements I use, when I use them and how I use them. Keep in mind that everyone is different and every body has different needs. A 150lb guy obviously does not have the same protein or caloric needs as a guy that weighs 250 lb. This supplement regimen works well for me as a 285 lb guy.
Before I get started, I want to discuss the importance of something that is very basic. It's not a pill or a powder, or even a supplement at all. It's water. Most people underestimate the significance of drinking enough water throughout the day. Anybody who lives an active lifestyle, trains consistently with weights and consumes a high protein diet is obviously trying to pack on more muscle than the average Joe, and this person must stay hydrated. There are many different theories and beliefs as to how much water we should consume on a daily basis. I have been told by doctors that I only need 8 glasses per day and that a gallon a day is too much. I can tell you from my own personal experiences that this is a bunch of crap. If I don't drink at least a gallon of water a day I feel lethargic. With all the protein you eat, do your kidneys a favor and drink some water. As my Lieutenant at the fire academy used to say to us when we were gonna get our butts kicked, “You better hydrate!”
Now, let's get back to the supplements. I have tried many different types of whey protein and the overall best in my opinion is whey isolate with whey concentrate. Whey isolate by itself is generally very thin and is pretty much like drinking chocolate or vanilla flavored water. Of course when you are dieting it tastes like the greatest thing since flavored sugar free oatmeal, but during the off-season, it's not so great. Whey concentrate will improve the flavor and thickness of the shake, all while adding a few more nutrients. Also, you can easily add things to your shake to tweak the flavor. Personally, I am a fan of good old chocolate protein. Simply adding a spoonful of peanut butter greatly improves the taste and the consistency. It also makes it more satisfying, because the fat in the peanut butter makes me feel fuller.
To help me meet my daily protein requirements, I typically drink 2-3 protein shakes a day, which is easy due to their portability and convenience. Over the last few years I lowered my protein intake a bit and replaced those calories with carbohydrates, which has worked wonders for me. I consume about 1.25g of protein for every lb of body weight, which puts me at about 350g of protein per day. I know this is less than most people think I should consume. I will discuss how and why I do this later.
Next, let's talk about amino acids. I am a huge advocate of glutamine and BCAAs. As many of you know, both are essential for muscle recovery as they are anticatabolic and help with the storage of glycogen in the muscle. I consume about 10g (2 teaspoons) of Universal Glutamine Powder daily in all my shakes. It is totally tasteless and mixes easily. If I forget to add it to a shake, or when I'm feeling really hardcore, I just throw a spoonful in my mouth and down it with water.
The latest craze in the supplement industry seems to be the super muscle building formulas, which are really nothing more than BCAAs. It's basically the same ingredients. There are only 3 amino acids that are branched chain-leucine, isoleucine and valine. In addition to glutamine, I also supplement with about 30g of BCAAs. This is on top of what's already in the protein powder and food that I eat. I use Universal BCAA Stack to get in the extra aminos. It's available in grape, orange and lemon lime, all 3 of which are delicious.
For the most part, I only use fat burners pre-contest. However, after a long 24-hour shift at work, running around all night and getting little sleep, I sometimes use them in the off-season. When I am pre-contest and my caloric intake is super low, I need fat burners for energy. They give me a kick start. I use Animal Cuts to help maintain energy and burn fat while I am doing my morning cardio. I also use Super Cuts 3, which has a hefty dose of carnitine, which helps the body utilize fat for energy.
Next on the list is a good multivitamin that will provide your body with everything it needs to grow, stay energized and recover. I prefer to take my multivitamin mid-day, after I train. In addition to the vitamin, I also take 1,000mg of Vitamin C and 400IUs of Vitamin E before bed. I also take a Vitamin B Complex in the morning along with Alpha Lipoic Acid to help transport carbohydrates.
Another important supplement is joint support. The abuse you put on your tendons, ligaments and joints in the gym calls for some joint lubrication and repair. I take Universal Jointment Sport. Also, due to their anti-inflammatory properties, Omega 3s help improve joint health. Therefore, I highly recommend Universal Omega EFA.
I've saved the best for last. My post workout concoction is Torrent. My secret is… Torrent, Torrent, Torrent and 1 more scoop of Torrent. Along with the 4 scoops of cherry flavored powder, I add a heaping teaspoon of Glutamine, 1 teaspoon of Watermelon EAA Stack and 1 teaspoon of Orange BCAA Stack. All the different flavors mixed together tastes pretty good. It's a little tart, but the dextrose in the Torrent makes it really tasty. I drink this shake immediately after my workout and then eat a meal about 90 minutes later. As stated in many magazines and articles, the post-workout window is crucial for refueling and repairing your muscles.
Once you have your diet and training down, the supplements can and will work wonders for you. They are called supplements for a reason; they're meant to supplement your food intake and your diet. Again, I like to keep things fairly simple. I have no secret magic formula. Hard work, consistency and dedication in the gym, as well as your diet and supplement regimen, give you the winning edge.