It’s easy to get confused by the minutiae contained on the Supplement Facts label of your favorite sports nutrition product. The names of the ingredients are foreign to most, and the units of measurement mean little to the uninitiated.
So let’s take a step back and look at the bigger picture of supplementation. Perhaps boiling things down to the underlying components will help alleviate confusion.
I’ve created a paradigm called the “5 Pillars of Supplementation” that conceptualizes a systematic approach to both proper supplement manufacturing and supplement use. This, I believe, will help auto-regulate the supplement industry so that safer and more effective supplements are made to help consumers get better results.
First and foremost, the 5 Pillars of Supplementation are built on a solid nutrition foundation. It’s like building a house – you have to pour the foundation before you start putting up the walls, installing the hardwood floors and hanging light fixtures. Likewise, before you start using supplements, you need to have a nutrition plan based on your goals and lifestyle. This point also holds true for supplement manufacturers as well; you can’t just peddle supplements without first giving your customers solid nutrition advice. That’s the foundation of everything I do at JYM Supplement Science as well as JimStoppani.com.
That said, the 5 Pillars of Supplementation are:
1) Proper Ingredients
Each ingredient must have ample evidence of its effectiveness in both the lab and the gym. Each ingredient must also have adequate evidence of its safety, again with both laboratory research and real-world evidence.
2) Proper Form
Each ingredient must be used in the proper form for the desired results, as certain forms of an ingredient may be better for certain products. For example, creatine HCL is better absorbed than creatine monohydrate, so it takes far less creatine to provide results. This also helps prevent stomach issues that are common with the monohydrate form.
3) Proper Dosing
Each ingredient must be provided at the proper dose found to be effective in the lab and the gym. This includes synergies when multiple ingredients are used to provide an additive effect. For example, a lower dose of Alpha-GPC can provide a very effective brain boost when combined with adequate amounts of Huperzine A, caffeine, and tyrosine, as compared to taking Alpha-GPC alone.
4) Proper Synergy
To get the best results, be it better recovery or greater fat loss, combining certain ingredients with others to enhance each ingredient’s effect is critical. For example, taking creatine with BCAAs (leucine, isoleucine, and valine) is a good synergy because leucine instigates insulin release, which is critical for creatine uptake by the muscles.
5) Proper Timing
When you take your supplements can be just as critical as the form and dosing of the ingredients. As an example, research shows that when protein and creatine are taken before and after workouts, subjects gain more muscle and strength, while also losing more body fat, than subjects taking the same supplements in the morning and at night.
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