Supplements for Performance and Weight Loss – By Jeff Edwards, CSCS, USAW National Coach

Supplements are helpful tools to get the results you want from training. For those looking to lose weight and maintain a healthy active lifestyle there are a few supplements which should be in your training bag. Performance based training is a rigorous endeavor. The most important factors for maximizing performance benefits from training are adequate food intake and rest. After you have those two details nailed down there are some supplements which can really help. Note “help,” not take the place of a crap diet and little sleep. If you eat nothing but take lots of creatine you will get 0% of the potential benefits of the supplement, you can’t out supplement a bad diet and you can’t out train a bad diet.

Here’s the ADHD Bullet Point Summation:

For a healthy lifestyle and weight loss take:
BCAA’s – to enjoy the benefit of burning fat while dieting consume 5g of BCAA’s before or during your workout, our Rule 1 BCAA’s have 5.3g per serving and provide a 1 month supply.
Vitamin D – 2000iu per day especially for us higher latitude folks (cold=no sun exposure), our PurePharma D3 has 2500iu per serving, take 4-5 servings per week to make your bottle last longer than 1 month!
Protein – Your body needs to recover from training so take advantage of the post workout 20 minute window by taking 25g of protein with 6g of BCAA’s in our Rule 1 Protein mix.
Omega 3 – for reduced inflammation, and improved health factors take 1.5-3g per day. Our PurePharma Omega 3’s has 2g per serving.

For Performance:
Creatine – Maximize your gainz! 3-5g of creating per day, our Rule 1 Creatine has 5g per serving and 60 servings for just $12!
BCAA’s – decrease muscle breakdown, increase training frequency with less soreness, and boost protein synthesis for recovery. Take it! 5g per day, our Rule 1 BCAA’s have 5.3g per serving and gives you a 1 month supply, our Pre-Train also has 5g of BCAA’s and other aminos for fatigue resistance and alertness without the jitters or headaches I’ve had with other pre-workout supplements.
Protein – 0.7-1g per lb. of bodyweight per day and 20-30g immediately after training. Our Rule 1 Protein has 25g per serving plus 6g of BCAA’s for added benefit.

Probably the most extensively tested supplement, both for safety and for efficacy. Creatine has consistently shown a significant improvement in studies against the control group in terms of strength gain and not just in the short term, long term studies confirm its benefit to maximizing strength gains. Creatine allows for increased storage of an additional phosphate molecule which allows for greater conversion of ADP to ATP and subsequent utilization in skeletal muscle. What does that mean? It means it allows greater energy storage for use in short duration high intensity training. Think about being able to perform an additional rep or two during heavy sets, or greater sustained pace during sprints without the burnout in the last 15 meters. Creatine can be loaded or not, studies show some short term benefit to loading however it’s not necessary to reap the rewards. 3-5g is sufficient daily dose for most. Fun fact, creatine has shown to be beneficial as a medical supplement for congestive heart failure, depression, rheumatoid arthritis, and several other ailments. Our Rule 1 Creatine has 5g per serving and gives you a 2 month supply.

Protein: Protein has a lot, a lot, of unnecessary hype to it. Let me explain. Protein is essential to anyone’s diet, however in order to try to get you to buy their protein over their competitors protein, companies make outrageous claims to the additional benefits their special protein matrix blah blah has. That’s BS. Protein is very basic and it is unlikely that isolate verses hydrolyzed has any different utilization speed. The difference between proteins comes down to these factors, mix ability (does it have clumps after mixing), digestive tolerance, and taste. That’s it. So let’s discuss why we take a protein supplement and discuss these factors.
Post workout your body is exhausted and in desperate need of immediate nutrients to take advantage of a short window, 20-30 minutes, where we can jump start the recovery process. Protein supplements are convenient and can specifically provide the right nutrients to take advantage of this window without toting around a bunch of food that requires preparation and refrigeration. The recommended amount of protein is around 20-30 grams; most studies have used this range and haven’t shown any additional benefit for larger doses. Whey is ideal because it is high in BCAA’s which we will talk more about later.

There are 3 types of why protein derivations, Concentrate, Isolate, Hydrolyzed. Concentrate is the cheapest and least processed but typically is very clumpy, has dairy sugars still attached which improves the taste but typically comes with some bloating and gas. Isolate mixes fairly well, has no dairy sugars attached, and a fairly neutral taste. Hydrolyzed is the most processed with no dairy sugars, by itself is typically bitter (thankfully flavored protein shakes have gotten this under control, it used to be gag worthy) and mixes the best out of all the other options. Our Rule 1 chocolate protein has a mix of isolate and hydrolyzed, flavors are great (the chocolate is the best I’ve ever had), and mixes incredibly easily, and has 25g of protein and 6g of BCAA’s per serving fitting the bill for post workout supplement perfectly. Athletes should be ingesting roughly 0.7- 1g per lb. of bodyweight per day which isn’t always easy and is another reason why a protein shake is a must have supplement.

BCAA’s: Branched Chain Amino Acids, most specifically Leucine, have been shown to improve training when fatigued, reduce muscle soreness, trigger protein synthesis, and inhibit the breakdown of muscle tissue. So, yes, you should be taking BCAA’s. For those looking to lose weight, training in a fasted state has shown improved results in fat lose compared to training in a fed state. The problem with training fasted (no food intake for roughly 6 hours) is that your body will start to breakdown muscle and fat for fuel, the fat part is good, the muscle part isn’t. BCAA’s inhibit the breakdown of muscle while in a fasted state and while under a caloric deficit which is very beneficial for those of you trying to lose weight without losing your hard earned muscle and strength. There are studies that show Leucine helps older trainees gain muscle and keep muscle as they age as well as studies showing BCAA’s boost endurance performance by allowing greater utilization of fat as fuel more efficiently. If you want to be leaner, improve endurance, build muscle, keep you muscle while losing fat, and decrease post workout soreness to train more frequently then take a BCAA supplement. Take 5g of BCAA’s before or during exercise, our Rule 1 BCAA’s contain 5.3g per serving with 2.5g coming from Leucine and the Pre-Train is also loaded with 5g of BCAA’s as well as other aminos to help perk you up without the tingling and headaches I’ve had with other pre-workout energy supplements.

Omega 3’s: Nearly a wonder drug in regards to improved health factors as well as the added benefit of an anti-inflammatory effect to help reduce the pain of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), omega 3’s are an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. Omega 3’s have shown to improve skin health, brain function, reduce all-cause mortality, lower blood pressure, and several other benefits. Simply put Omega 3’s should be part of your diet. Studies have shown omega 3 intake of 0.8-1.5g per day is enough for reduced cardiac events and all-cause mortality. For those who enjoy fish, eating 2 servings of fish each week should be a sufficient intake for these health benefits. Here is a link to a table showing omega 3 content per ounce of various fish. For those who, like me, enjoy fish but are unlikely to eat the recommended weekly fish intake an Omega 3 supplement would be very beneficial. For anti-inflammatory benefits doses ranging from 1.5-3g per day have shown positive outcomes. Our Pure Pharma Omega 3’s have 2g of omega 3 per serving and gives you a 30 day supply.
Vitamin D: Most people know that taking Vitamin D with Calcium greatly improves the bone strengthening benefits from calcium alone, however there are many other uses for Vitamin d as well. Vitamin d reduces blood pressure, improves mood and decrease risk of cancers and MS (us in northern latitudes are notorious for increased colon and prostate caners rates as well as seasonal depressive disorder), and many researchers are convinced the government recommendations are inadequate. They recommend 2000iu per day of vitamin D. Our PurePharma vitamin D has 2500iu per serving, meaning you can take 4-5 doses per week and reap those benefits.

Supplements won’t fix fundamental issues with your diet, rest, training effort, etc. If you have worked hard to get those details under control and are looking for an extra boost of energy, decreased soreness, strength gains, weight loss, and improved overall health you should add some of these supplements to your regimen. As with all things, consistency is the key.

Loenneke, J., Wilson, J., et al. Quality of Protein Intake is Inversely Related with Abdominal Fat. Nutrition and Metabolism. 2012. 9(5).
Soares, M., Murhadi, L., et al. Mechanistic Roles of Calcium and Vitamin D in the Regulation of Body Weight. Obesity Review. 2012. Published Ahead of Print
Smith, G., Atherton, P., Reeds, D., Mohammed, B., Rankin, D., Rennie, M., Mittendorfer, B. Dietary Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplementation Increases the Rate of Muscle Protein Synthesis in Older Adults: a Randomized Controlled Trial. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2010. 93(2), 402-412.
Qin, L., Xun, P., Bujnowski, D., Daviglus, M., Van Horn, L., Stamler, J., He, K. Higher Branched-Chain amino Acid Intake is Associated with a Lower Prevalence of Being Overweight or Obese in Middle-Aged East Asian and Western Adults. The Journal of Nutrition. 2010. 141(2), 249-254.

Jeff Edwards

- National Coach USA Weightlifting - Crossfit Coach of individual and team competitors - Outdoorsy nerd - Owner and Head Coach at BR Fit Club