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My take on supplements.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012 by  
Filed under Daily Blog


Today I want to talk about supplements.

The supplement industry is a massive 60+ billion dollar machine, and it’s fueled by flashy advertising campaigns that promise fast, almost magical results.

When you’re working hard and are excited about losing fat or gaining muscle, the desire to want to maximize your efforts is, naturally, quite strong. The supplement companies realize that, and they are absolute masters at convincing you that their products are just what you need to reach your goals.

Supplement companies, for the most part, are also full of crap.

I took this embarrassing picture back in early 2006. Most of this stuff is an absolute joke, and a total waste of money.

I took this embarrassing picture back in early 2006. Most of this stuff is an absolute joke, and a total waste of money.

Early in my transformation I was guilty of falling into the supplement trap. Just look at that pile of expensive supplements that I’d amassed back in early 2006: pre-workout and post-workout energy/creatine products, “fat burners”, transdermal “fat burners”, NO2 products, natural testosterone boosters, vitamins, amino acids… the list goes on and on. And that’s just what I had on hand that particular day–back in those early days I tried many more products than that.

Back then I used to spend hundreds of dollars every month on supplements. I was always willing to try that exciting new product that promised to take my workouts to the next level, would enable me to become stronger, get leaner…

Here’s what I’ve learned: 95% of that stuff is worthless crap at best, and possibly even harmful to your health.

Yes, harmful. The supplement industry is not regulated by the FDA in the same way that pharmaceutical companies are. As long as supplements don’t claim to “treat, prevent, or cure diseases”, manufacturers of these products can pretty much make any claims that they want. They don’t have to prove the efficacy–or even the safety–of the products they are selling.

Are there worthwhile supplements? Yes, absolutely–but not many.

I’m presently closing in on the end of my 2012 cutting program. I’m at 5.9% body fat, and that’s the leanest I’ve ever been in my life. Would you like to know what supplements I’ve used on this cut?

A daily multivitamin and BCAAs (I also use Nitrean protein powder, but I consider that a food and not a supplement).

That’s is it. That’s the whole list.

In addition to the two supplements I used on this cut, I do feel there are some other worthwhile supplements out there, but the list is very short: fish oil, a joint supplement (Glucosamine/Chondroitin/MSM) and creatine monohydrate. I’ve also found AtLarge’s ETS (Micro-lactin) to be effective in combating muscle soreness, and AtLarge’s RESULTS (creatine & beta alanine) to be a solid post-workout product while bulking.

Full disclosure: AtLarge Nutrition is a JSF sponsor. I selected AtLarge as a sponsor because their very limited selection of products is–for the most part–in line with my way of thinking.

Folks, the keys to fat loss and/or gaining muscle are proper diet and hard work–not magic pills or powders. Put in the work and save your hard-earned money!

I’ve opened the April “100 Challenge” for entry. Summer is coming, are you ready?

John Stone Fitness Comments

10 Responses to “My take on supplements.”
  1. Great article John! I always tell my friends to spend their money on good quality food rather than expensive supplements.

    And 5.9%?! Congratulations are in order!

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  2. Well said John — and I couldn’t agree more. Years ago (about the same time frame as you), I too fell into the supp trap, spending upwards of $400 per month on supps. I should have just saved myself the trouble and lit my money on fire directly. Right now my supp list consists of protein powder and creatine….and I am progressing as well as I ever have.

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    • Yep, I was also spending in that neighborhood for a while, too. That’s a freaking car payment. 🙁

      Most people who have been in the game long enough eventually come to the same conclusions that you and I have. My hope is that this article will help prevent many JSF members and visitors from making this all-too-common and very expensive mistake before they waste such a large chunk of cash.

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  3. Here, here. I use Wholebody Green mixed with almond milk each morning to get protein and vitamins, and Quest bars (thanks for that, by the way). Both of these seem like clean, natural products.

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  4. Quest bars are awesome, I ate the last PB&J today, will have to order some more. I agree with all the supplement BS. The only thing I really believe in are amino acids. Taurine has a pronounced effect on me, it really gives me a feeling of being energized. That and good ol vitamin B12, I always take 1000mcg a day. I also use creatine on occasion but not at the levels most do, I only take 1000mg a day for about 2months at a time.

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  5. I agree with you guys about Quest bars, I also love them. But I consider them more of a food than a supplement (especially considering the quality ingredients they use), so that’s why I didn’t mention them in this article. 🙂

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  6. Firstly John, nice work at 5.9%!

    Secondly, is there anything wrong with taking zero supplements? I mean absolutely nothing?

    As a diabetic it becomes boring to hear when you go for a blood test that continual injecting wastes away your veins because they’re constantly carrying medicine around the body, so I always took the stance that I’d let my body handle it.

    I always get a bit weary when I see people rushing to the doctor for another hit of medicine, when, if I have a flu or cold, I just get proper sleep and stay hydrated and it’ll go away.

    I guess I know medicine and supplements are not the same, but I figure I should use the same ideas, if egg whites end up as a powder which is flavoured and sweetened and then you add it to water to create a shake, to me that seems a bit ‘frankenstein’. So for me I take absolutely nothing because I’m already going against nature by ploughing insulin through my veins every single day.

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