How To Set Up Your Diet: #5 Supplements

#1 Calorie Setting, #2 Macro Setting, #3 Micros & Water, #4 Nutrient timing, #5 Supplements

Cross your eyes, and imagine the pyramid above is one huge, layer cake and the little red blur at the top is a cherry.

Now, if the first four layers are made of mud, shit, snot and sawdust respectively, is that cherry going to make a difference to the taste? – Clearly not, yet this is how the supplement industry wants you to think about your nutrition.

Supplements can be broadly categorised by their physique, performance, or health benefits. How important they are depends on context, but in general, not very.

  1. Supplements can benefit a good nutrition plan, but they cannot make up for a poor one.
  2. Supplements are not needed to transform your physique and in many cases constitute an unnecessary expense.

Any article or advertisement that you come across which contradicts the above is likely aimed at your wallet. So, if you haven’t got the first four parts of the nutrition pyramid in place, please do so before reading any further, because no single supplement is going to have more impact on your diet than getting your diet right in the first place.

Protein powder is convenient, BCAAs are arguably necessary for fasted training, caffeine can give you the right kick to make a more effective workout, and by many standards, fish oils seem to improve just about everything to a small degree which makes them worth considering.

The end.

Anticipated FAQs

Dude, is that it?


Why, Andy?! Tell me the good stuff. 

I already told you the ‘good stuff’. You simply don’t want to believe it because you have been seduced by the idea of supplements as shortcuts or as necessity. Trust me bud, I’ve been there. All the best stuff is in parts one to four and that is how I got my clients the results they achieved.

Ok but what about your clients, those results can’t all just be down to food and training, right?

Wrong. I suggest protein powder to people for convenience, insist on BCAAs if someone chooses to train fasted, but everything else is optional and I encourage people to use the minimum.

But come on, surely you can go into more detail, right?

Yes I sure could, but for the rest we’re talking about minor fractions and I’m painfully aware that making any list, regardless of any strong preface to it, will result in people going out and purchasing the list in its entirety, regardless, because that’s just how people are.

Didn’t you forgot to mention creatine?

Creatine is probably the most researched supplement out there. It is safe, cheap, can boost strength and has neuroprotective and cardioprotective properties.

  • 5g a day, taken with meals is fine. Loading is not necessary.
  • The standard creatine monohydrate is the cheapest and just as effective as any other type.
  • Creatine cycling is not necessary. A highly precautions approach would be 2 weeks off then cycle on. (Any nitrogenous compound can stress the liver in theory.)

Creatine causes increased water uptake in the muscles and can cause bloating. In some individuals it can take a full 30 days for this to take effect. So bear this in mind when interpreting your tracking data.

I don’t personally use it as it gives me headaches and diarrhoea.

Tell me more about the fish oils, should I take them?

If you can afford the addition then perhaps consider them. Use the information on to make your decision. Just watch out for the EPA, DHA content in your capsules as there is a lot of stuff out there with little of that good stuff you want.

What about Yohimbine HCL?

You probably want to get to Scott, Jeff and Phil’s level of leanness before this is going to prove useful (assuming you’re doing everything else right) and even then, cardio comes first.

Intermittent Fasting - No Cardio - Shredded Abs

Why would it be useful then and not before?

Fat loss happens in pretty much a predetermined order. As we get leaner, it gets more and more difficult to shift the fat. The very last places where fat comes off – lower abs, glutes, thighs (for the women) – are like that due to poorer blood flow in those areas (put your hand on your butt, is it colder?) and the alpha/beta receptor ratio.

Yohimbine HCL will help with the blood flow issue to those areas, but isn’t going to do anything to help those areas that already have sufficient blood flow to mobilise fat once it is released from the stores*.

You may see that it’s banned in your country. – This has nothing to do with people taking it for fat loss and everything to do with men mega-dosing with it to correct erectile dysfunction and killing themselves when their blood pressure drops.

(*If that flash of science ticked your fancy, may I direct you to a wonderful afternoon’s reading that is The Stubborn Fat Solution, by Lyle McDonald, which will teach you more about fat oxidation than 99.99% of the population.)

What do you think about supplement ‘x’?

Check out It’s an excellent and unbiased resource on supplements.

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

What dosage should I take of…?

Check out

Anything else to share?

  • Protein powders are a cheap way to hit your protein targets but food is going to keep your fuller. Food is thus better when dieting, powder can be helpful when bulking. Whey in the day, casein at night (if you can).
  • BCAAs can taste terrible depending on the brand. Check out some online reviews regarding the flavour of any product you are thinking of buying first. Scivation’s  Extend gets good reviews and I like it. BSN’s Amino-X supposedly* tasted good too. (*If not, you can blame Michael H., a client of mine in Denmark. Mail me and I’ll give you his address so you can pursue a refund.)
  • Good video by Eric Helms with more info on supplements here.

You could have just written all of the above in a traditional article.

A tongue-in-cheek conversational FAQ was the only way I could overcome my apathy to write an article on supplements.

So what are your thoughts on pre-workout supplements then?

You can’t supplement to cover your own lack of mental focus, yet this is what I see a lot of.

Switching your phone off, putting some headphones in so you don’t get drawn into conversations, and visualising your next set going perfectly during your rest times will do more for your workouts that any supplement can.

Feeling tired? Have a cup of coffee.

Questions welcomed in the comments. – Andy

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About the Author

Andy Morgan

I am the founder of, this is my sincere effort to build the best nutrition and training guides on the internet. Some readers hire me to coach them, which I've been doing online, via email, for the last six years. If you're interested in individualized, one-on-one nutrition and training coaching to help you crush your physique goals, let's start the conversation.

93 Comments on “How To Set Up Your Diet: #5 Supplements”

  1. Phillip Clark says:


    I very much enjoy your writing style, and am grateful for it. Straight info delivered in a very straight forward manner. Thank you for all the amazingly helpful information. I am a NOOB to the lifting/serious training and your site and your site has been tremendously helpful to me (Especially the IF and Big 3/5 x 5) because there is a lot of crap out there.

    This is probably the most helpful section, as there are so many ‘Magic Beans’ promises out there is is easy to blow a LOT of cash for nothing more than colorful piss.

    I am just starting on the BCAA’s with my fasted training (week 3) and look forward to seeing how it comes out.

    Thank you again. I hope to start training with you one day (soon!)

    1. Thanks Phillip, very glad to read this. Good luck!

  2. Kim says:

    Do you recommend women take creatine when trying to drop body fat/weight? If so, what dosage? I’m 5’5″, 119 lbs, but need to drop a lot of body fat.

    1. Hi Kim. Sex is irrelevant, your answer on dosing is in the FAQ.

  3. Mike says:

    Hey Andy ! I bought a BCAA supplement in pills,, how can i know how much pills i have to eat to reach the 10 grams of dosage that you recommend it ?

    1. Hi Mike. The three BCAAs are leucine, isoleucine and valine. Have a look at the label on the back of the packet.

      1. Mike says:

        Thank you Andy, In serving size, 6 capsules, the amount per serving is Leucine 1.5 gm, Valine 1,3 gm, Isoleucine 9.6 mg. A powder of BCAA for 10 grams the amount per serving is: Leucine 2.5 Isoleucine 1.25 Valine 1.25. I think that i have to take 6 pills before a workout 🙁 Thank you !

  4. Kraig Keeling says:

    I am glad I found your site, thanks for all the info, IT IS GREATLY APPRECIATED, it has cleared up many things for me. I am very excited to put this into practice, lost 14 lbs so far but stuck at current weight.

    My questions…1) I work nights 3-4 days a week, should I follow the same model as prescribed ( skipping breakfast as soon as I awake) & just follow the same plan for my night shifts, ( as day plans)?

    Also, I have seen 2 different theories of exercising for night workers, sleep being more important than training on those night work shifts and either no training or only a short intense workout or walking for those days I work.. 2) Thoughts? no training or limited training, train but don’t go to extremes or walking only?

    1. Hi Kraig, thanks, most welcome and glad to read that!
      1. See the FAQ on irregular shift/sleep patterns.
      2. I’m not familiar with any research on this.

  5. Wegs says:

    Hi Andy,

    I’m sure you’ve covered this, so sorry if this is a repeat. I have always been told that you should have a protein shake post-workout with 2:1 fast carbs. So if I workout at 6:00 in the morning fasted, should I skip this shake and just do BCAAs? Or wait until the feeding period at 11:00?

    Thank you.

    1. Hi Wegs, this is covered in the previous part on nutrient timing, but the answer to your questions is yes, just take the BCAAs and then eat at 11. No protein powder or fast carbs necessary, real food is fine.
      How To Set Up Your Diet: #4 Nutrient Timing & Meal Frequency, Calorie & Macro Cycling

  6. Peter says:

    Hi Andy,

    First off, thank you for an awesome site and keep the good work up!

    Do you still consider BCAA useful for fasted Training?
    Considering there are more and more articles coming showing no or very little effect.

    For example:

    And a quote from Dr. Stuart Phillips
    “Do you feel that branched chain amino acid supplements are of any value to the typical lifter who already consumes a very protein-rich diet?

    In short, no! The evidence on BCAAs is remarkably weak as to their positive effects and they are not anabolic. They may be mildly anti-catabolic if you’re in negative energy balance, however, protein (especially whey) is going to be both anabolic and anti-catabolic. Bottom line, if you’re taking in adequate protein then BCAA are a complete waste of money IMO!”

    1. Hi Peter, thanks for the question.
      Yes, useful for fasted training to minimise muscle catabolism. Useless otherwise, as per Dr. Phillips’ answer.
      Careful of context.

  7. Frank Espinoza Carreon says:

    Hi Andrew, quick question about BCAAs. If I fast from 6am to 1 pm one day, and lets say, I can train only from 9:30 to 10:30 am one day. It’s okay to only drink BCAAs at 9:30 am, then again at 11:30, and then wait until 1:00 pm to break the fast, to not lose muscle? I’ve read the similar schedule in leangains, but it says it only for 6 am fasted training and midday training.

    Yours sincerely.
    Frank Espinoza

    1. Hi Frank, This is covered in the previous part actually, but no real need to dig through it, cause you got it right.

  8. MJD says:

    Hi Andy!

    Currently, I’m doing IF (16/8). My eating hours usually starts between 11-1PM and ends at 7-9 PM. I workout at 6PM, so there’s no problem eating a pre-workout meal. However, sometimes, I train at the morning, usually around 10AM. I don’t want to break my fast at 9AM (for a pre-workout meal) since my body is already used to eat at around noon. I don’t have BCAAs or protein powder as I find them expensive (I’m still a student! Haha) and as this article said, eating whole food is way way better. Is there any thing to substitute BCAA or do you think investing on them would be a good idea?

    Thank you very much! More power to your site! 🙂

    1. Hi Marc. The leaner you are the more increasingly important this becomes. So, if you’re lean, can’t afford protein or BCAAs, then you’re best to have breakfast. However, protein powder is gram for gram the cheapest way to get protein in your diet (in most countries). So you probably just need to do some budgeting.

  9. Darvinder says:

    Hey Andy,

    I am planning on supplementing myself with Creatine. The info above (and your answers to the comments) are very helpful but there is no specific clarification as to whether I am supposed to take them only on workout days or daily. suggests it has to be taken daily but it doesn’t consider the fact whether the person is training 3x a week or 6x.

    Since we follow the 3x a week routine as per your guidelines, do you suggest we supplement Creatine only on workout days?

      1. Darvinder says:

        Gotcha. Thanks 🙂

  10. Robert Polanski says:

    Hallo Andy. Very good and useful articel !

    There is one question I can’t find answer anywhere.

    Do you recommend to take any simple carbo sumplement in order to supplement, complete carbo that you have lost in training (carbo in muscles)? or maybe it is unnecessary.

    I use for instance first carbo after training and after 10 minutes protein whey in order to improve protein absorbcion and so that protein are not transformed to carbo. Or am I wrong? 🙂

    Is it better when I substitute carbo by raisins, dates direct after training? and after that protein whey or better however to use carbo?

    1. Hi Robert. The carbohydrate from your food is perfectly fine, with your meals. No need to rush food in.
      The rapid replenishment of glycogen stores isn’t something that the non-endurance athlete doing two-a-days needs to be concerned with. More on that in the previous article.

      1. Robert Polanski says:

        Thanks Andy!
        I have read the previous article among others about glycogen replenishment. Very interesting. I didn’t know 🙂 Now all is clear.
        Very precious information.
        Thanks once more!

  11. Kiko Massaquoi says:

    What’s your take on casein protein on a cut? Again, thanks for this info!

    1. Covered in the FAQ section, third from bottom.

  12. Kyle P. says:


    Can’t tell you much I’ve appreciated all your information. I think I’ve read through the site twice so far. So if my questions have been answered previously, I apologize for the redundancy. I’ve got a couple questions:

    1. When taking BCAAs do I need to count the Protein intake from them towards my daily protein consumption?
    2. If on a rest day and I’m around 14 hours on the fast, can I take BCAAs before the 16 hours if I’m extremely hungry? Will that kill my fast?
    3. Do you have a paypal account where my wife and I can send you a “donation”. Your information has been life changing. We are in our 6 month of working out and changing our overall approach to life. We’ve both completely changed our body comps and both are now getting into the Big3 lifts (We’ve both done P90X3 & Body Beast with a lot of success) and have found your information and the information that you link out too amazing. We really feel that we would like to bless you in some way and being able to send you money is about the easiest way to do so being that we are so far away.

    Once again, thank you for your time, patience and information. I try to read through the questions and answers at the end of each page. I’ve just about messaged 5 times and was able to find the answers by just reading.

    Thanks again.

    1. Hi Kyle, glad to read that.
      1. No.
      2. Yes. Not really, but can’t see it helping to any extent. A little hunger is natural, unavoidable when in a diet phase, and it’s best to just live with it than look for tricks.
      3. Yes, and though I appreciate the offer a donation isn’t necessary. If you meet me one day, but me a beer. 🙂

  13. […] <Anterior: #3 Micronutrientes & Água ι Próximo: #5 Suplementos> […]

  14. Danny says:

    Hello Andy,

    I am a little bit confused about the ideal situation for fasted training, so I was hoping to clarify.

    I think of BCAAs as a supplement which are last on the hierarchy pyramid, but without them you say take a scoop of whey 1 hour before training instead.

    Thus to be clear, training entirely fasted (no BCAAs, no whey) is not optimal?

    Thanks for everything you do.


  15. praful says:

    bro pls tell me…
    i have used creatine before two year ago, and now i want 2 use it again but want 2 know either i hav 2 lode or use it two times a day?

    1. 5g, once a day, with a meal is perfectly fine.

      1. Tony C. says:

        Hi Andy.
        How long would it be a good time before you stop taking creatine? do you recommend taking it during fasting or during your eating window?

        1. Hi Tony.
          Take creatine once a day with a meal. No need to cycle it.

          1. Tony C. says:

            Just to be clear, allow me to break your balls one last time: You mean, I take the creatine just before the meal or after the meal? No need to cycle it means that I can go through the whole 400g can of creatine with no need to take breaks?
            Thanks man, I really appreciate it!

            1. With your drink with a meal, or before or after. Doesn’t make much difference.
              Check out on the subject. It’s exceedingly comprehensive.

  16. Ryan says:

    I know you don’t use it yourself but from your experience do you see any positives with using creatine mono when on a cut for assisting with muscle preservation and strength? Would you recommend it?

    1. Hi Ryan.
      Ok so further from the section above, supplementing with creatine, if not already maxed out in your system naturally through diet, can help with strength and thus muscle acquisition. As stated, it also causes water uptake into the muscles and can cause bloating, with a lag for up to 30 days before creatine store saturation. So, if you take it at the start of your cut, you introduce a confounder in your tracking data for the first 30 days. So I’d suggest that either you take it now and wait a month before beginning your diet or don’t take it at all.

  17. Kierran Clarke says:

    Hi Andy,

    If training fasted and you have no BCAA’s (ran out, forgot to order more!), is there anything you would recommend in substitute of the BCAA’s?

    1. Sure, a whey scoop a hour before training.

      1. Kierran Clarke says:

        Don’t have any of that as I only use Casein….Anything else you would suggest until my delivery comes?

  18. Florin B. says:

    Hi Andy,

    For a guy that fasts between 8.30 PM and 12.30 PM, having the workout in the morning (7 to 8 AM) it leads him to 3 times until noon for taking BCCAs.
    What if one day he does the workout between 11 AM and 12 PM, should he start taking BCAAs starting with 8 AM (presumably he wakes up at 7 AM).

    1. You’d take the BCAAs at 10:50 in that case. This is covered in the previous article bud.

      1. Florin B. says:

        Thanks Andy!

        Just reread part 4. So in the previous context, training later would ask for BCAA pre workout and nothing after as 1st meal is coming.

        What I am not sure now: for an afternoon training (1st meal at 12.30 PM) are there any BCAAs required pre workout?

        1. Your blood stream will be swimming with them due to your lunch that is still digesting, so no need.

  19. Kierran Clarke says:

    Hi Andy,

    Apart from taking BCAA’s for Fasted Training, are there any others reasons/benefits to take BCAA’s at other times?

    1. In the context of a protein sufficient diet, with non-extreme meal timing (i.e. with the first four parts of the pyramid in place) no. Unless you like the taste especially and have money to burn.

      1. Kierran Clarke says:

        Just seen this answer, simple as always. Thanks buddy.

  20. Florin B. says:

    Hi Andy,

    Regarding caffeine let’s pick three scenarios:
    – rest day in the morning (5 hours of fasting, until noon)
    – training day in the morning, before workout (5 hours of fasting, until noon)
    – training day after the workout (3 hours of fasting, until noon).

    Can you pinpoint which of the three you think it’s better to have a cup of coffee?

    1. Drink coffee when you enjoy having a cup of coffee Florin.
      If you’re talking about a caffeine kick for a workout, then before. If you’re talking about catecholamine effects for stubborn fat removal, then you’re getting more into the theoretical detail then necessary unless you’re already shredded, but that’d be when fasting.

      1. Florin B. says:

        Thanks Andy!

        I am enjoying around 3 cups of coffer per week and I was asking if I can mix pleasure & some functionality between coffee and catecholamine effects for my stubborn fat.

  21. Sam says:

    Hey Andy!

    Great bunch of articles here! I wish we were taught this stuff in school!!

    As I’d never heard of them before and like to understand what I put inside my body I did some research on BCAAs and came across a whole bunch of worrying stuff saying Leucine has been linked to Pallagra – an illness I’ve never heard about before but apparently can cause dementia and death.

    Since I train at 7.30am and don’t eat till 1pm, I’d need to take 30g of BCAA (and since my BCAA is measured on a ratio of 4:1:1 would equate to a daily intake of roughly 20.6g of pure leucine), for the interested calculations shown below:

    Ingredients of BCAA:
    Leucine: 3.0g
    Isoleucine: 0.75g
    Valine: 0.75g
    = 4.5g

    – 0.75 g since the flavoured version contains 0.75g less BCAA = 3.75g * 2.5 (to get the required 10g) = 9.375g

    Assuming all three aminos missed out on an equal 0.25g due to flavourings we have 6.875g of Leucing x 3 (since I’m taking BCAA three times a day) = 20.625g of pure Leucine.

    What’s your take on this causing Pallagra? Is there any other supplement I could take/simply fast after my workout until I eat at 1pm?

    I appreciate one would think I’m ‘overthinking’ here but after I read the word ‘death’ on the Leucine wiki page, I thought I’d see what your take on the whole thing is.


    1. Haven’t heard of that Sam, which given what I do and what I read screams out to me that the applicability of the evidence or the study method itself is likely poor. However, if you’d like to look into it…

      Here is what you need to know next time someone puts s PubMed link in front of you and you wish to check it out:
      ▪ Human or animal study?
      ▪ Were these healthy individuals?
      ▪ Were they trained or untrained individuals?
      ▪ What was the methodology used? For example, with hypertrophy, bicep measurement vs MRI vs muscle biopsy? With MRI it’s not possible to distinguish between fluid and contractile tissue.
      ▪ Was it the short-term (acute) or long-term (chronic) effect that was studied?
      ▪ Is it relevant to you? (Were the doses – training load or supplement – applicable to you? Is the exercise protocol something that you would even care about for your own sporting/recreational interest?
      ▪ How many people were in the study? (Important for determining statistical power, as outliers will always happen.)
      “Every once in a while you’ll come across a study where the conclusions don’t reflect what happened in the outcomes. There is actually a study I have come across where the title of the study does not reflect the outcomes, nor does the conclusion reflect the outcomes. It gets really odd and you wonder how… things slip by the peer review process.” – Alan Aragon
      Lesson: You can’t comment on a study unless you have read the entire methodology.

      1. Sam says:

        Thanks Andy,

        Nicely summed up, I could only find the study online at a cost of $45. Looking on Google all the results seem to stem from a study done on young rats in the 80s.

        Would swapping BCAAs to half a cup of whey mixed with water (12.5g) be aa suitable alternative?

        1. Not an alternative. Would have to use 25g but that’s not the same. If it was done on rats and in the 80′ then you have nothing to worry about.

        2. JB says:

          Had a quick look at some studies as I work for a university and have access, including the one cited on wikipedia.

          Firstly: Pellagra is, at its definition, niacin (vit b3) deficiency. Unless you are an alcoholicm, have HIV, or solely rely on a third world diet of processed maize stripped of all its nutritional content, I seriously wouldn’t worry about it.

          Let me quote from that article:
          “Niacin can be obtained directly from the diet or synthesized from dietary tryptophan.1 Approximately 60 mg of dietary tryptophan produces 1 mg of niacin in the presence of vitamins B2 and B6. Accordingly, a deficiency of one of these two could result in pellagra in a nutritionally weak person. Similarly, an excess of dietary leucine can interfere with this conversion reaction and result in pellagra.”

          “Pellagra can be prevented by intake of a protein-rich diet. Food sources of niacin, and/or tryptophan include nutritional yeast, eggs, bran, peanuts, meat, poultry, fish, red meat, whole-grain cereals, legumes and seeds. ”

          As you can see, the only reason leucine is fingered at causing pellagra is in preventing the conversion of trytophan into leucine in _ already malnutritioned_ people. And the cure is a protein rich diet!

            1. Sam says:

              This is pretty mad! Surprised it was even listed on Wikipedia. Thanks for clearing up!

  22. Martin M. says:

    Hi Andy,

    Quick question re BCAAs vs EAAs – hope you have time to post an answer.

    When training fasted is there any benefit and or difference to using EAAs over BCAAs? Any advice from you (or anyone else in the community) would be very much appreciated.

    Thank you in advance,


    1. Hi Martin, Martin’s got you covered here:

      “EAA is a supplement consisting of the eight essential amino acids. EAA is somewhat more popular than BCAA here in Sweden.

      The difference between the two is that BCAA-supplements primarily consist of branched-chain amino acids, which are the three aminos most intimately involved in muscle protein metabolism and synthesis.

      I’m saying primarily because manufacturers also tend to add some other as well, such as beta-alanine and citrulline malate to Purple Wraath and Xtend, which are the brands I personally use and recommend.

      The research on free-form aminos and muscle protein synthesis (MPS) has typically used EAA-mixtures. MPS is maximally stimulated by 10 g EAA in conjunction with fasted state training, which is why I recommend 10 g EAA or BCAA for fasted training.

      There are no comparative studies on EAA and BCAA. For now you can simply assume that they are simply interchangeable. I plan on addressing this topic again. But don’t worry, there won’t be any shocking surprises…I think.”

      Martin Berkhan from the article, ‘Leangains Summer Motivation
      I don’t believe he updated that, likely due to lack of comparative research.

      1. Martin M. says:

        Perfect – thanks for clearing that up!

  23. Peter says:

    Dear Andy, how do you think LG approach would work without IF? I mean macros are LG like, heavy weight training etc. but no IF? Thanks!

    1. Covered in the previous article to this one Peter.

  24. Albers says:

    Hi Andy

    One of the pioneers of the Paleo movement, Art DeVany recently wrote an article about the importance of BCAAs, which he recommends being consumed with vitamin B12. A quote from his blog states:

    “I take about from 1 to 2 grams of Guardian BCAAs with B12 a day. I use a teaspoon if I am hungry and do not want to stop to eat. I take another mid day for an energy boost, if convenient, and another an hour after dinner and well before bed. The BCAAs supply for my liver to go into gluconeogenesis to make glucose for my brain’s energy supply. The BCAAs with the B12 encourages my mitochondria to increase in size, function, and number by upregulating protein synthesis in the mitochondria. The B12 has a little known, subtle effect on the electrical coupling of the mitochondria”

    Art has an interesting pedigree. A University professor, and at the ripe old age of 76 is 1.9m, 90kg and 5-6% body fat.


    1. Kind of like having a petrol engine in a car, to power a generator, so that you can run the car on electricity instead.

      (Or one could simply eat carbs to have the same effect.)

  25. Edwin C says:

    At least any thoughts on optimal timing for taking multis and fish oils though?

    I know you previously mention taking them during your last meal for staying full.

    Or is it like they’re all going to the same place regardless of when you consume them so don’t worry about such silly things?

    1. Once a day with a meal is fine.

  26. Jeremy N says:


    I use BSN as well. Love the green apple flavor. I like all the flavors, Grape, Watermelon, Fruit Punch except the blue one. I will help you out if people don’t like it.

  27. One important thing to keep in mind is that ‘supplements’ fall into a number of distinct categories. Products like fish oil, antioxidants, a multivitamin, probiotics and vitamin D could very well be part of Tier 3 (Micronutrients & Water). Not only do none of us eat a perfect diet, but there are certain nutrients that just don’t have a reliable dietary supply (vitamin D and probiotics being two examples). I’d argue that these products/nutrients are essential to obtaining a good physique and keeping good health.

    Now, when we move into sports nutrition and bodybuilding supplements, I totally support your opinion that they’re the cherry on the cake and won’t make or break you. Nothing will compensate for lack of effort and discipline in the other tiers.

    I break down the five health supplements I think everyone–especially athletes–should have as part of their daily regimen here: [Link removed – Andy]

    [Link removed – Andy.]

    1. James, thanks for the comment. Correct, supplements can fall into #3 Micronutrition. If you wish to post detailed comments here then feel free always, but you were naive to think I would allow you to link to a page of info on supplements with a sales form at the bottom.

      Antioxidant pills don’t do shit and may be more harmful than good.
      A daily multi is a good idea generally.
      Vitamin D is something that a lot of people are low on and may consider supplementing with. Still, better to get it checked than to assume.

      1. I don’t think you’re naive. That link provides much more information about those basic supplements (how to get it through diet vs. supplements, why it’s important) than I could put into a comment.

        Most antioxidant intake should come from food, I agree there, but there are a couple antioxidants that aren’t part of our normal food supply and which have good benefits.

        Astaxanthin (from algae) is awesome for athletes because not only does it protect cells, but it protects eyes and skin from sun damage, and it’s relatively cheap. For anyone sitting at the computer every day (who doesn’t?) it also helps reduce eye fatigue. Dr. Mercola has some excellent write-ups about it.

        1. 1. Ah, Joseph Mercola. Here are some of my favourite quotes from his wikipedia page:

          “A 2006 BusinessWeek editorial criticized Mercola’s marketing practices as “relying on slick promotion, clever use of information, and scare tactics.”[3] In 2005, 2006, and 2011, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned Mercola and his company to stop making illegal claims regarding his products’ ability to detect, prevent and treat disease.[4] The medical watchdog site Quackwatch has criticized Mercola for making “unsubstantiated claims and clash with those of leading medical and public health organizations [and making] many unsubstantiated recommendations for dietary supplements.”

          “Mercola opposes the use of most prescription drugs and immunisations…”
          “Mercola has also claimed that the use of many commercial brands of sunscreen increases, not decreases, the likelihood of contracting skin cancer…”
          “Mercola has been highly critical of vaccines and vaccination policy…”
          Oh, and my favourite:
          “Mercola has questioned whether HIV is the cause of AIDS. He has argued instead that the manifestations of AIDS (including opportunistic infections and death) may be the result of “psychological stress” brought on by the belief that HIV is harmful.” Hilarious until you consider how many lives and serious illnesses have gone untreated because of his misinformation purely to line his pockets.

          2. Antioxidant supplementation research is far from conclusive. I’ll quote for those that don’t want to click:
          “…there have been a few studies that found beneficial effects of antioxidant supplements on exercise performance, tons that have found no effect, and a few (23, to be exact) that have found negative effects.”

          3. Astaxathin “Limited human evidence, but it appears to be a better carotenoid than the more researched lutein and zeaxanthin,” says – a site that sells nothing. Funnily enough, Mercola is giving it excellent write ups.

          If you want to put the evidence across to people in an unbiased way and let them make their own decisions then that’s one thing, but exaggerations to push through sales are another entirely. Next time that monthly cheque with your side income from that supplement sales page comes in, please ponder the costs to those that have bought this stuff, and ask yourself whether morally it’s worth it.

  28. Jason says:

    Perfect Andy. I see people daily who take incorrect amounts of fish oil as they smash fast food for lunch daily.

    Good analogy with the cherry on top.

    Cheers! Jason

  29. Well, this article turned out as I would expect it would be 🙂 I assume most people just know more about supplements than me 🙂

    I was wondering, just for the completeness — where would you place training in the pyramid? It’s not the foundation, right?

  30. Alex says:

    Epic article, yet nothing about Creatine or Pre Workouts? 🙁
    Just kidding…. :)))

    Nice series and great article closing, Thanks a lot, Andy

  31. Michael H. says:

    Excellent post Andy! Thank you very much for making sure people will hate me, the guy in Denmark, if they don’t like the Amino-X.. ;D

    I must add that It’s the green apple flavor that tastes good.. Haven’t tried the others 🙂

  32. Bart says:

    You nailed it!!!

  33. Florin B. says:

    Nice article, Andy!

    A professional attitude to the end. Being less important for the aforementioned reasons you mentioned you also wrote about the same size.

  34. I was going to write the below comment in our next re-assessment, but no reasons to wait ….

    I really appreciated all your last articles about the nutritional hierarchy … it clarifies a lot the overall picture.

    As many, I’m not looking to become a professional figure/BB contestant, so all the countless and messy web analysis, researches, specific studies, tips, supplements info and technical guides about fitness a nutrition are for me (and I imagine for the multitude too) just a dense fog of unclear information … possibly valid for a professional BB with a good background of technical knowledge but all too complex for the masses with the popular and simple target to loose fat and preserve/gain muscle.
    There are probably supplements and training tricks that can accelerate a bit the above goal but, as imagined, all of them are just a minor boost in relation of what matter most and give you visible results.
    So at the moment (thanks to you) my main focus is control macro/calories and be constant in training. And that is simple to understand and to achieve.

    If the above big picture is right, even IF is somehow a trick to support the general scheme … I know that with IF also other valuable benefits are in play but, I suppose, fasting while cutting mainly helps you to control and moderate calories. Is that right?

    1. Thanks for the comment Marcello, that was the main reason I wrote them – to help people become independent and answer their own questions, as well as allay fears when they can’t get things on plan and they think they’ve messed something up when really it was just a minor thing.

      “I know that with IF also other valuable benefits are in play but, I suppose, fasting while cutting mainly helps you to control and moderate calories. Is that right?”
      Fasting (as in skipping breakfast) – hunger control and meal satisfaction is a major benefit, yes, but I’d encourage people wanting to know more to read the previous article.

  35. Chris says:

    The layer cake comparison got a good laugh out of me. Good ending to an excellent series of articles. I definitely enjoyed them.

  36. […] < Previous: #3 Micronutrients & Water |  Next: #5 Supplements > […]

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