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Supplements. What’s worth it?

So. You’re a few months into CrossFit. You’re starting to get the hang of all the lingo, and burpees don’t feel like a death sentence as much anymore (they’re not fun, but you’re still with us, so…). You’ve got that pair of CrossFit shoes and a jump rope in your amazon cart, but you’re wondering if you should click on that Optimum Nutrition or Pre-workout Ad that’s on sale. Maybe. Now, there are literally thousands of articles online about supplements and what you should use, when you should use it and what the best brand is. But, let’s be honest. Most of those publishers have an agenda to some degree. Well, friends. I don’t sell supplements, so I have no reason to tell you anything but the truth from my perspective. I’ll try to keep it as clear as possible. So, what do you need? PROTEIN POWDER Some sort of protein isolate. That’s a fancy way of saying “protein without a bunch of carbs or fat”. “But Coty, I need carbs after my workout if I want to perform and recover better!” You’re right. But, I would suggest sourcing those carbohydrates from fruit or another natural source before additives in your supplements. (If you’re a high level athlete and aiming for 300+ carbs a day, this doesn’t apply to you.)
Why, you ask? Because most companies are going to use some sort of dextrose or maltodextrin, which to your body is essentially like adding a scoop of sugar into your shake. If your goal is to lose body fat while gaining muscle and getting AWAY from sugar cravings, that probably isn’t the most responsible decision. Just grab a banana or an orange post workout and you’ll be fine.
Unsure if your protein has added sugar? Look at the label. If it’s a source of protein, it shouldn’t have more than 5g of carbs. Because, well, carbohydrates don’t equal protein. CREATINE But, but, but… I don’t want to get bulky. Or puffy. Or bloated. I promise…if you feel like you’re bloated or retaining excess water, it’s not coming from 2.5-5g of creatine powder. It’s probably coming from your diet… Why do you need creatine? Well, let’s talk about energy systems, young Padawan. There are three energy systems that your body is using to varying degrees all of the time. During exercise, (depending on what you’re doing) your body is functioning at varying levels in each system (CP, Glycolitic and Oxidative. Think creatine, carbohydrates and fats). For any max effort output (think about a 1-3RM full body lift, or a short, fast sprint) your body is depending predominately on the Creatine Phosphate Energy System. This process allows the body to more rapidly breakdown and utilize ATP for energy. Which means better performance during your workout. Which means better results from your exercise program, and faster progress.
Creatine is useful. Your body naturally produces it. Supplementing just helps to ensure your body as an adequate supply when you need it to. When should you take them? I’ll keep it simple. Whey protein – before, during or after your workout to maintain high levels of amino acid in your blood stream, so that it’s readily available to your body for recovery and energy purposes. Casein protein – before bed or as a meal replacement/supplement if you won’t be able to eat for 4-6 hours. Creatine – Anytime. I prefer to have it in the morning before I workout. I would not, personally, spend my money on any of the following. Amino Acids. Thermogenics (fat burners). Fat loss shakes. Detox teas. Meal replacement shakes. Weight gainers (unless you desperately need to gain weight, and for some reason can’t source those calories from whole foods). Anything else that the bros at GNC tell you that you need for results. Because, well, they’re wrong. In summary, protein powder and creatine are supplements worth taking if you want to improve your results and progress in the gym. Everything else is pretty much snake oil. **To clarify, this is in regards to the average person that wants to be healthier, fitter, stronger and feel better without burning a hole in their pocket. This does not necessarily apply to high level athletes with a focus on PERFORMANCE as opposed to health, but even then I could argue the two supplements listed above would suffice. If you’re not controlling the food you eat on a daily and weekly basis, supplements will not be as helpful as you may hope. At best, supplements can account for 5% of your results. So don’t stress out about them. Questions? You know where to find me! Coty Bradburn Owner, CrossFit Mountain Island

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