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169: 6 Best Supplements For Building Muscle, Sleep, Stress, And Better Health

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169: 6 Best Supplements For Building Muscle, Sleep, Stress, And Better Health

Overwhelmed by the vitamin aisle? Are you confused about which supplements are worth your money and which ones are not? Here’s what your body needs—and can really help you upgrade your health and improve your life.

Have you ever stepped into the supplement aisle of any pharmacy — or, worse yet, health-food store — and got confused if so many health claims.

In this best supplements series, I’ll answer all your questions and go into supplements that I’ve personally tried and have scientific evidence to support their effects.

I’ve been using supplements for over 20 years, and I love experimenting with them. I’ve built more muscle, recovered faster, reduced my stress, improved my sleep, and more from using supplements.

But one of the key lessons I’ve learned for all these self-experiments is that no supplement can make up for a bad workout program, improper recovery, a poor diet and lack of sleep.

So if you don’t have the basics dialed in, then that’s where you should start.

But if you’d like to know which supplements I recommend and take personally (because of exhaustive research and years of experience), then read on to learn how these six supplements can take your health and performance to the next level!

1-Creatine Monohydrate

Creatine Monohydrate is naturally occurring amino acid that can rapidly produce energy to support cellular function. It is a well-researched supplement and is remarkably safe for most people. It has performance-enhancing effects for intense, short-duration exercise like resistance training. It also has cognitive performance-enhancing and neuroprotective properties. It’s also one of the most well-researched supplements around.

Get It Naturally

In its natural state creatine can be found in foods like beef and pork, although most of it gets broken down during cooking. This paper that I found on Creatine levels and diet cite some studies that say creatine starts to degrade at 115 degrees in fish, and that baking meat causes 92% loss of available creatine due to actual breakdown.

This is why dietary creatine is insignificant if you want levels that affect your physical and cognitive performance. It would be very difficult to get enough creatine from what you eat. And the negative effects from the eating the amount of food you would have to eat would outweigh the benefits you would get from the creatine. Creatine is best as a supplement.

How to Supplement

Stay away from fancy, expensive forms of creatine. Stick with good ol’ German micronized creatine monohydrate. Creatine monohydrate is only made in two places: Germany and China. Avoid any creatine from China as there have been issues with contaminants. Shoot for 5 grams per day.  

My Pick

Biocreatine from Natural Stacks. Biocreatine uses German micronized creatine along with Himalayan sea salt and fenugreek for improved absorption.

Product Link

2-Beta-alanine

Beta-alanine is another naturally occurring amino acid that can help you build muscle and improve physical performance. As you exercise, acid builds up in the muscle decreasing performance. Beta-alanine is shown to buffer the build up of this acid increasing physical performance.

Many people report being able to perform one or two more reps in the gym when training in sets of 8–15 repetitions. Beta-alanine supplementation can also improve moderate- to high-intensity cardiovascular exercise performance, like HIIT and circuit training. This is important as beta-alanine has not been shown to improve heavy lifting in the five reps and under.

Get It Naturally

Like creatine, natural sources of beta-alanine don’t give you the dose you need to improve performance. It’s best to stick with a supplement in this case.

How to Supplement

Try having 5 grams of beta-alanine per day. On workout days, break it up into two doses–one before the workout and one after. Taking beta-alanine on an empty stomach has been shown to increase blood levels of beta-alanine. It’s important to note that some people experience paresthethia—a tingling sensation on the skin–when using beta-alanine. It’s not dangerous at all. I get this every time take it but it doesn’t bother me. However, it can be uncomfortable for some people.

My Pick

NOW sports Beta-alanine. It’s competitively priced and is easy to break up into doses for before and after your workouts.  It also uses Carnosyn– the only beta-alanine used in research studies with proven results (make sure you only use beta-alanine products with Carnosyn).

Product Link 

 

 

3-Whey Protein powder

Whey protein is one of the two found in dairy products, the other being casein. Whey is hands-down the best for building and preserving muscle (when you’re losing weight). Whey protein is rich in both glutamine (the most abundant amino acid in muscle) and the branched-chain amino acid leucine (the single most important nutrient for building muscle).

Get It Naturally

One of the best dietary sources of whey protein is ricotta cheese. However, you get as many grams of fat as you do grams of protein from ricotta cheese. So if you factor the fat into your daily macros, then you’re OK. But I recommend just buying a whey protein supplement instead. It’s just easier.

How to Supplement

If you track your macronutrients, then you should be shooting for 1 gram of protein for every lb of your ideal weight. For example, if you weigh 200lbs, and you want to lose 10 lbs, then you should be eating 190 grams of protein per day.

If you aren’t a macro tracker, then here are some simple rules to follow. For weight loss clients, I recommend to a client to start out with a protein shake for breakfast—especially if they’re tight on time in the morning. For muscle building clients, I recommend having a protein shake after a workout and 1 or 2 shakes in between meals. I go into more depth on my podcast episode if you want more details.

My Pick

Natural Protein by Natural Stacks. This protein is awesome! It only has four ingredients–no additives or fillers. It’s whey protein, hydrolyzed bovine collagen, colostrum and either Madagascar vanilla (for the vanilla flavor) or Ecuadorian cacao (for the chocolate flavor). There is research suggesting that collagen helps your joints and that colostrum will help your immune system stay strong when pushing yourself hard in the gym or on the field.

I started noticing less pain and joint aches from taking this! At first, I wasn’t sure what was making my joints feel better until I remembered that Natural Protein had collagen in it.

A fast and easy protein shake recipe is:

– 8oz of water or nut milk

– Handful of baby spinach

– Handful of frozen berries

– 1 tbsp of nut butter

– 2 scoops of Natural protein

 

Watch my honest review now

Use Promo Code LEGENDARY15 to save 15%.

4- Magnesium

Magnesium is an essential mineral that is a cofactor in more than 300 enzyme systems that regulate diverse biochemical reactions in the body, including protein synthesis, muscle and nerve function, blood glucose control, and blood pressure regulation.

A deficiency increases blood pressure, reduces glucose tolerance and can cause us to feel more stressed (i.e. neural excitation). Unfortunately, magnesium deficiency is common in industrialized societies because of the dietary prevalence of grains and because magnesium-rich foods, like dark leafy greens and nuts, aren’t as common.

Get It Naturally

Dark leafy greens like spinach, pumpkin seeds, and dark chocolate are all excellent whole-food sources of magnesium. Fish like mackerel and tuna are decent sources of magnesium too. Avocados and bananas are Ok as well.

How to Supplement

If you exercise regularly, are under a lot of stress or don’t eat enough magnesium-rich foods, I recommend taking an oral magnesium as one of your go-to supplements. Stay away from magnesium oxide—the form you find in cheaper supplements—as it is poorly absorbed. Magnesium citrate and amino acid chelates like magnesium taurate are good choices.

It’s important to note that magnesium supplements can give you diarrhea based on how much you take and the form of magnesium you use. Be mindful of your response to the supplement you take. This has been a personal issue with the majority of magnesium supplements I’ve tried.

If you listen to the show, you know I’m a big fan of topical magnesium chloride. But I suggest that you start with an oral form first as the research on topical magnesium isn’t clear on whether it affects you systemically or just where you apply it.

My Pick

Natural Stacks Magtech. This is hands-down my favorite oral magnesium supplement. In fact, it’s the ONLY oral supplement that I haven’t had any GI upset from taking. And I’ve experimented with many brands and forms of magnesium.

 

Watch My Honest Review Video Now

Product Link 

Use Promo Code LEGENDARY15 to save 15%.

 

5-Melatonin

Melatonin is a popular supplement taken for insomnia and jet lag. It’s naturally produced neurohormone secreted by the pineal gland in the brain, and it is well established for inducing and regulating sleep.

Get It Naturally

You can optimize your natural production of melatonin by practicing proper sleep hygiene. Blue light emanated from lamps, smart devices and TVs are known to suppress natural melatonin production. Sleep hygiene practices like lowering lights an hour before bedtime, avoiding devices like smartphones and computers, using blackout curtains in your bedroom and sleeping with a sleep mask can all help the body to produce melatonin naturally.

How to Supplement

Melatonin supplementation is a bit controversial as many sleep experts feel that it is overused, and most supplements contain dosages that are too high. Although melatonin supplementation is not associated with negative feedback (when taking supplementation causes your body to produce less of a hormone), some more recent research suggests that melatonin receptors may become less responsive from high supplemental levels.

That said, I think melatonin supplementation is critical for people who suffer from chronic sleep issues like insomnia or frequent waking. Personally, I would have been able to improve my sleep without it—even with practicing better sleep hygiene than the majority of people.

The key is to find the dosage that works best for you. A recent study from MIT suggests that 0.3 mg (300 micrograms) is the best dosage for insomnia. That’s much less than the typical 1-3mg dosages found in most supplements. My suggestion is to get a good quality melatonin supplement then break it up into small pieces to experiment with to find the best dosage for yourself.

My Pick

Source Naturals Melatonin 1mg (orange-flavored sublingual tablets). I’ve experimented with many different types of melatonin and can tell you that not all melatonin supplements are created equally. I like this one because it’s only 1mg which makes it easy to break up into smaller pieces. It’s also uses sublingual delivery—which is faster acting and the orange flavor isn’t bad at all. And at less than $5 for 100 tablets, it’s a great product for a reasonable price.

Product Link

 

6-Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble nutrient that is critical for survival and optimal health. It is naturally produced through direct exposure to the sun and is found in very few foods.

Optimal levels of Vitamin D promote calcium absorption in the gut, reduce inflammation, and improve immune function. People deficient in Vitamin D may increase their Testosterone levels when levels are brought up to an optimal level.

Get It Naturally

Direct sunlight (specifically UV-B) on uncovered skin naturally starts the process of Vitamin D production. Seasons, the length of day, cloud cover, smog, sunscreen, and darkness of skin (melanin) all affect the amount of UV exposure and rate of Vitamin D that your body produces.  If you live in a location with a lot of smog or cloudiness, or if you do not get outside often, you probably don’t have optimal levels of Vitamin D.

Very few foods contain enough Vitamin D to positively impact your levels. Cod liver oil, swordfish, and salmon contain the highest amounts. But my recommendation is that if you’re not getting enough direct sunlight—because of your location, lifestyle or concerns about skin cancer—then it’s best to supplement.

How to Supplement

The first thing to do is to get your vitamin D levels checked. You can do this with a simple blood test at your doctors or an online lab like Discounted Labs  or Life Extension.

That way, you have a baseline to measure the effectiveness of your supplement and dose. Serum concentration of 25(OH)D is the best indicator of vitamin D status. It reflects vitamin D produced by your skin as well as obtained from food and supplements. Just pay attention to the units as different labs measure Vitamin D levels with different units. The two most common units are nmol/L and ng/mL.

My Pick

Natural Stacks Vitamin D3. They use cholecalciferol—the most bioavailable form of Vitamin D—suspended in organic coconut oil for maximum absorption. It’s $14.95 for 90 servings of 5,000 IU, so it’s great quality for a great price as well.

Product Link

 

Why Natural Stacks?

You may have noticed that I’ve recommended Natural Stacks products throughout this article. And I want to tell you why.

I’ve been contacted by supplement companies more times than I can count throughout my 17+ year fitness career and have said no them except two brands. One of them is Natural Stacks.

Natural Stacks and I recently connected through a mutual friend. And, like always, I was very skeptical. But I love the fact that they have a customer review section for each supplement as well as the science they use to formulate each product. They also started something called the Open Source Initiative to create more transparency in supplement companies—a quality that’s lacking in the supplement business.

One thing you should know about Natural Stacks (and the other supplement companies recommended here) is that it’s a premium supplement brand. That means that they’re more expensive than what you’ll find at your local GNC or drug store. What I want you to know is that when it comes to supplements, you get what you pay for. The supplement business is notorious for lying about the ingredients or amounts of ingredients in their products. I’ve even interviewed a former FDA Special Agent, who talked about supplement scams on my show. Here’s an article talking about major supplement brands having bogus products. Listen to his interview now.

I want you to know that Natural Stacks (and all the other companies I recommend) are the real deal. They’re pushing for open source supplements so consumers will be able to trust what they’re paying for is actually what they’re getting. I want you to know that I personally vouch for them after trying several of their products.

> Vist Their Website Now

Use Promo Code LEGENDARY15 to save 15%.

 

The Takeaway

If you feel like your life is too chaotic and you don’t have time for yourself, you’ll need to change your lifestyle and incorporate healthy habits. Although supplements may be effective in helping you build muscle, sleep better, manage stress and improve your health.

And if you were already eliminating the unhealthy habits, these supplements will take your life to the next level.

 

Thanks for Reading!

Thanks so much for joining us again this week. Have some feedback you’d like to share? Leave a note in the comment section below!
If you enjoyed this episode, please share it using the social media buttons you see at the top of the post.

If you have any questions (or would like answers to hear previously submitted voicemail questions!), head on over to the ASK TED section.

Until next time!

Ted

 

 

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