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Ted Talk 139: Should I Keep Taking Supplements? – Ask Ted

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Ted Talk 139: Should I Keep Taking Supplements? – Ask Ted

Too many people believe supplements are the magic element to reaching their fitness and overall health goals.

The truth is some of them work, some of them might be dangerous for you, and many others simply don’t work.

In this Ted Talk episode, Ted dives deep into the supplement dark waters to reveal the unspoken truth about performance and health-enhancing supplements.

He uncovers the secrets behind blended supplements and everything you need to know that supplement manufacturers don’t tell you about their products. In addition, Ted shares five negative and four positive aspects of supplements and the ultimate testosterone boost supplement formula.


You’ll learn:

  • Some supplements are spiked with pharmaceuticals or drugs
  • The three types of supplements that operate in a lawless category
  • Why it’s crucial to pay extra attention to blended supplements and their composition
  • Two examples of supplements with proven evidence that they don’t work
  • What are the supplements that work and are really good for you?
  • Five negative aspects of supplements you should be aware of
  • Four positive aspects about supplements you should consider to enhance your overall health and performance at the gym
  • The truth about testosterone booster supplements
  • The ultimate testosterone boost supplement formula
  • And much more…


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RTF 127: Ask Ted: I Just Started Lifting Weights, Should I Take Creatine?


Podcast Transcription: Ask Ted: Should I Keep Taking Supplements?

Ted Ryce: “Ted, what are your thoughts on supplements in general, and testosterone boosters, specifically? That’s the question that we’re going to be covering for today’s Ask Ted. What is up, my friend? Welcome back to the show. I’m your host, Ted Ryce, coach to entrepreneurs, executives and other high- performers.

And we’re going to do an Ask Ted episode today, and we’re going to be covering this very important topic of supplements. So if you’re taking supplements, which, if you’re listening to this show, I’m sure that you’re either taking them or you have a cabinet full of supplements that you’ve bought and probably took for a couple of weeks and then stopped taking, am I right?

So here’s what you need to know. Number one, I will tell you, supplements are supplements, meaning they’re supplemental to diet, exercise, stress management and sleep. And I would even put in there, making sure you’re having enough fun and solid social connections and staying away from negative media.

This is what I would put in there before it’s like, “Oh, gosh, I’ve got to take a valerian supplement.” “Oh, why you’re feeling stressed?” “Yeah, I’ve been scrolling on Twitter reading all the Johnny Depp or Amber Heard trial or reading about all any the shootings,” whatever it is. So manage your behavior. First, use supplements to get better results from the healthy habits you already have.

So let’s dive in. The first thing that I want you to know is that many supplements are spiked with pharmaceuticals or drugs. And I’m not going to go into too many specific cases here. If you want to read up on this, just Google like I did, “Supplements spiked” those two words.

What came up for me March 17, 2022, there was a final conviction of FDAs spike supplement investigation of Blackstone Labs. And then there was another one…I mean, there’s so many, I’m just sharing just a couple that I found because I didn’t want to spend all my time talking about this.

But the Food and Drug Administration ordered supplement maker, Hardcore Formulations, to recall two of its body building supplements after they were found to be laced with derivatives of anabolic steroids. So big problems with supplement companies, especially American supplement companies, we have everything in the states to really do a great job.

And it’s one of the places where you have to be not the most careful, for sure. But you’ve got to be careful. American made supplements, it doesn’t necessarily…I trust European supplements more. I was in Portugal recently. And everything that you get there, it’s highly regulated. They care way more about people in Portugal than they do in the United States.

They’re way more on top of things, just culturally speaking, and also in terms of the regulations. Now I’m in Brazil, where it’s even more of the wild west than the United States, not this time around, but last year when I was here in Brazil, I remember taking a protein powder that is from a Brazilian company, and I felt my heart rate increase.

Actually, I just felt anxious ad I was like, “What is going on? Why do I feel this way?” And what I did…well, I did some testing with myself. And I noticed that every time I took this protein powder, I felt a little wired and like, trouble sleeping and irritable, like ‘I drink too much coffee’ wired, but it didn’t feel like caffeine, it felt like something else.

Now, could I be wrong? That’s a possibility, of course, because I didn’t have it tested or anything but it was so predictable, the response. I threw that protein away. I got it an American made protein powder called Optimum Nutrition, which is one of the brands that I recommend, Optimum Nutrition. Also Dymatize is another good brand.

But you’ve got to be aware of these things. So if you’re feeling something…And you may even be feeling good from taking a specific supplement. But it may not be from what it says the supplement is for. And the three categories that are the most likely to contain illegal substances or even pharmaceuticals are muscle building supplements, weight loss supplements, and sexual performance supplements. Keep that in mind.

Those are the most lawless of the categories, where most of the problems turn up. The next thing I want you to be aware of is that there are many counterfeit supplements, especially on Amazon. And I would like you, if you’re really interested in this, go listen to my Episode 160, with Gary Collins, he’s a former FDA Special Agent.

And we talk about pharmaceutical corruption, medical corruption. But we also talk about supplements in that episode. So again, that’s Episode 160, with Gary Collins, and he can break it down for you, because I was looking for some more information on that. But I remember, that’s one of the few, you know, I’ve had so many interviews on this show. And that’s one of the interviews that stands out the most.

So if you’re on Amazon, make sure you’re buying from the actual company. Let’s say you want some Dymatize protein powder, make sure that when you see the store that you’re buying it from, that you’re buying it from the Dymatized store, because Gary told me the extent that these people go to. I mean, they do everything.

You have to be an expert to tell because it has the batch date, the logo, everything is recreated. It’s almost like, if you guys are that good, then why not just make your own supplement? I don’t know, obviously, there’s reasons why they do that. But it seems like it takes a lot of talent to completely counterfeit a supplement. So something else that you should know.

Another thing that you should know is that supplement manufacturers hide behind proprietary blends. So what I want you to do is this: you can pause this if you’re listening now and go get a supplement that is a blended supplement. So what do I mean by that? It’s called like, let’s say… I’m just going to make this up because I don’t know any blended supplements, I don’t take any, but you could say like Horsepower, and it’s got a blend of 10 different supplements.

And when you look on the back and you try to read the ingredients, it tells you what the ingredients are, but it doesn’t tell you the amount of the ingredients. And here’s what I want to tell you about that: anytime you buy a combination supplement, like for example, if you’re buying zinc, you don’t need to worry about it, you’re buying zinc. If you’re buying vitamin C, you’re buying vitamin C. If you’re buying creatine monohydrate, you’re buying creatine monohydrate.

Or if you’re buying super power, right? You’re buying explode or something like that. If you’re buying one of those combination supplements, look on the ingredients label, look at the ingredients and see if they tell you the amounts of the individual ingredients. Because what a proprietary blend is, it’ll say that there and it won’t tell you the individual ingredients or the individual amounts of ingredients, it will tell you like five grams and then you don’t know how much of each ingredient is in there.

And Pre-Workouts are like this, a lot of Pre-Workouts. So a lot of Pre-Workouts are just caffeine and they’ll have something like Citrulline Malate, for example, which has some research backing its efficacy in training, but it doesn’t have the proper amount. So a lot of supplement companies they hide behind proprietary blends, especially with like Pre-Workouts and they’ll rely on caffeine. So you’re just buying a caffeine supplement thrown in with some other stuff but the caffeine is cheap, and Super Pump 5000 is expensive, right?

But they’re including these other ingredients, just small amounts so that they can charge you more and make you think that it’s a special supplement when it’s not. Because what I want to tell you is this: there are no secrets with supplements anymore, all the information is out there, there could be a few companies who are really cutting edge and ahead of the curve a little bit, but in general, everyone has access to the same studies.

And this is something to be mindful of, everyone has access to the same studies. So we know what works, we know what doesn’t work. And we know not just what doesn’t work, or what does work, we know the amounts that it takes to make something work. For example, if you take creatine, the dose needs to be three to five grams. You can’t take half a gram of creatine and expect much from it, as an example.

But you might have a supplement that contains half a gram of creatine, and 100 milligrams, or 200 milligrams of caffeine, and you think, “Wow, this supplement is super powerful.” And really, you’re just juiced up on caffeine, as an example. The fourth thing I want to tell you is many supplements don’t work. So there’s a ton of supplements that just don’t work. Or I should say this, there’s no data showing that they work.

And sometimes there’s data showing that it doesn’t work. But supplement manufacturers sell it anyway and people buy it anyway. What’s an example that? I’ll give you two. Number one is CLA, Conjugated Linoleic Acid, I think it is, I don’t remember because I don’t fucking care because it’s a bullshit supplement, CLA.

I’ll tell you this: I’m interested in supplements. I would like to start a supplement company, and I talked to a supplement manufacturer. So in other words, the actual place that will make the supplements and bottle it for you. And then help you brand it, and then you’re the one who has to sell it. So I wanted to make my own supplements.

A lot of people whitelabel supplements, too, that’s something that we should talk about. You can buy supplements from a third party, put your own branding on it, and sell it for a higher price. And people just could buy a more basic version of it, but because you have special branding, because of the marketing behind what you do, you can sell it for a higher price. So that’s something to be aware of too. That one just came up for me.

So back to the conversation I had with this guy. I wanted to do a protein powder supplement. I thought that would be a good supplement to sell and I was wrong. He said, “Listen, the margins on protein are really low. If you want to make money, CLA is an awesome supplement to sell.” And I’m like, “Oh interesting,” because I knew CLA was proven not to work. It’s a weight loss or fat loss supplement.

So you want to know it works with that, eating calorie deficit. There’s no supplement you can take at all. Some of the fat burners, what they do, by the way, I know I’m going off on a tangent but I do believe it’s an important one. What fat burners do is they get you so freakin wired that you’re not hungry and that you’ve got to get up and move. You’ve got to get up and move. I’m so wired, I’ve got to get up and move. Oh, I forgot to eat because I’ve been wired on the supplement.

So that’s what fat burners do, the ones that work. But CLA is not, those are stimulant based fat burners, like ephedrine or ephedrine plus caffeine, something that we used to take back in the day when we didn’t know any better. And so CLA is not a stimulant fat burner. It’s actually just a fat, right? CLA. And it doesn’t work at all, but he wanted me to create that supplement and sell it. Why? People buy it.

Yes, the ignorance, but people still buy it. And so that’s why he wanted me to focus on that, “Sell the CLA, man.” And he wanted me to be successful, because if I was successful and made money, he would make money. Do you see how that works? And I’ll tell you, there’s part of me that is like, you know what, if people are stupid enough to buy shit that doesn’t work, because you keep trying to find a quick fix, that’s on you.

Now, of course, I can’t do it personally. I’ve got a code of honor, let’s say. I’ve got ethics. I wouldn’t do it. But if you’re getting duped by people, and you’ve got a cabinet full of CLA, because you thought, “Oh, I’ll just shove food in my face and just take some CLA and I’ll work everything out.” Yeah. You know, if you play stupid games, you win stupid prizes, as someone said to me.

So listen, a lot of supplements don’t work. Branched Chain Amino Acids is another one. And I don’t want to be condescending here, even though it may come across that way sometimes. I’ve made a lot of mistakes with supplements. And I don’t want you to make those same mistakes. And I’m really hard on myself about not going for quick fixes, and I want to be hard on you about it too.

Because I’ve already told you what happened to me. Well, mostly just wasted a lot of money. But again, a lot of supplements don’t work, but supplement companies sell them because people buy them. That’s why people sell things, because people buy them. If you don’t buy them, people don’t sell them because they don’t make any money.

Branched-Chain Amino Acids, let me finish my thoughts on that one. Branched- Chain Amino Acids, it’s not that they don’t work, it’s just that if you’re eating enough protein, there’s no benefit to consuming them at all. So you’re better off taking an essential amino acid formula, if you don’t want to take a protein powder, or just eating more protein.

But again, supplement companies sell Branched-Chain Amino Acids, even though there’s no point in taking them. If you’re willing, if you already have a protein powder and you have Branched-Chain Amino Acids, what are you doing? Unless you know you’re not eating enough protein. So again, many supplements don’t work.

This is number five, some supplements can be dangerous, especially if you have medical conditions. For example, one of the things that I really wish I could have done for my dad is get him on creatine monohydrate. My dad died in 2020. But in his last years, I was really trying to help him with his health. And he had gotten himself into a point where he had developed some kidney issues, so creatine monohydrate was out of the question.

And I just want to be clear here, there’s nothing wrong with creatine monohydrate. It’s the most studied sports supplement on the planet. And not only has it been proven safe and effective, but it’s also… I mean, there’s studies on how it can boost cognition, how it can help with depression, how it can do other things. Apart from boosting your performance in the gym.

But if you have a medical condition with your kidney, you need to really talk to your doctor about whether you can use it or not. So some supplements can be dangerous. I think taking magnesium can be an issue if you have kidney issues, if you have kidney disease as well.

So make sure that if you do have medical conditions that you check with your doctor or someone who’s really knowledgeable about this before you take them because…I mean, I don’t want to go off on another tangent. You know that’s how I kind of roll, but we’re in a situation where doctors sometimes aren’t the most helpful when it comes to health.

In fact, I just had a doctor sign up with me yesterday and we were talking, he’s like, “Man, people think…” he’s a liver doctor, and he was telling me, “People think I should be an expert on nutrition, but I’m so busy reading about how to treat liver problems, I don’t have a lot of time to read about nutrition.” And the literature on nutrition, it’s conflicting, it’s all over the place. And so he hired me.

He’s actually the first doctor I’ve worked with in a long time. I used to work with a lot of doctors back in my personal training days in Miami Beach, but it’s the first doctor I’ve worked with a long time. It could be fun. He was saying, “I just don’t know how to get results with this stuff.”

And so you can’t always look to your doctors to help you with your health and with specific things like supplements. On the other hand, I mean, who you can believe with this stuff, right? With the supplements. It’s like, “Take this supplement. It’s a miracle supplement.” It’s like, “Yeah, but you sell it. I mean, you’re coming at me with strong claims and a financial interest.”

Oh, gosh, you should see some of the emails I get from people who want to be on the podcast. I literally got a message saying that there’s a special form of vitamin C that will like double my lifespan. Double my lifespan? Really? Oh, my gosh, I did not email them back, but I wanted to tell them to fuck off. That’s what I really wanted to tell them. That type of stuff really pisses me off.

But you’re like, double my lifespan? How am I going to double my lifespan? It’s just ridiculous. That means, oh, you know how people only live to maybe 70 to 80 years, well, you can live to 140 to 160 years? What the fuck? You know, this shit people say in marketing.

So let’s change gears a little bit. And let’s talk about some of the parts of supplements. Let’s get on the positive side of supplements. And here’s what I will tell you, there are a lot of supplements that do work. So we’re getting into like, I guess the first one was five bad things about supplements that you should know. And now we’re talking about the five things about supplements that are good.

Supplements do work. Some of them do, and some of them are quite powerful. For example, what am I taking right now? I’m taking creatine monohydrate. I have valerian because sometimes I get a little stressed out, and I’ll take that if I’m feeling stressed out. What else am I taking? I have melatonin. I just flew from Portugal to Brazil a couple of weeks ago, I was taking melatonin to adapt to the new time zone. Now I’m not taking it anymore.

I’m also taking beta alanine because I’m doing some high intensity interval training and also martial arts training. And beta alanine works for that. I’m also taking vitamin C because of COVID and other things. I was sick for an entire month when I was in Portugal. I don’t know if I shared that experience with you. But it was miserable. We know those things work. I’m taking zinc as well.

What else do I have? I’ve got some other things but I don’t take them regularly. I’m taking a protein supplement. And we know that there are certain supplements that work, but number two is, supplements should be based on your needs. For example, if you don’t have a problem sleeping, then don’t take sleep supplements. If you’re not lifting weights, then don’t…Should you take creatine? Actually, you probably should.

But you’ve got to be specific with your supplements. Be specific with them. If you’re just trying to get healthy and taking things. I mean, I should come up with a podcast like supplements that pretty much everyone needs, like omega three fatty acids, that’s another supplement that I take, that most everyone should take, unless you’re eating enough fatty fish.

So supplements should be based on your needs. The third thing is pay attention to how you feel. Because I’ll give you an example. I have acetyl l carnitine, a supplement that has research on it. It boosts workout performance. There’s even some evidence that it can boost testosterone, although we can talk about that in a second after I finished with these big thoughts on supplements.

But the real reason why I’m taking it is because there’s some evidence that show that it might help with nerve pain. And I have a herniated disc in my back. It’s something I’ve been dealing with for years now, ever since end of 2016. And it’s something I’ve unfortunately been dealing with for a while. And I’m trying a lot of different things to try to make it better and go away.

And actually, I’ve made a lot of progress. But I still have nerve pain down my leg from the impinged nerve. But when I was taking that acetyl l carnitine, it was making me feel really irritable. So I had to stop taking it. So number three is pay attention to how you feel. Number four, is get your blood panel done regularly to make sure everything is okay. If you’re taking supplements, and you’re taking a bunch of them, maybe get your blood panel done every three to six months instead of every year.

Especially if you’re trying new supplements, make sure that you test things and get data on how things are going. Now the blood work may show problems that don’t have anything to do with supplements, but it’s something you should be doing anyway. And if you’re taking supplements, you should go out of your way to make sure that you do your bloodwork, especially to see, are things improving?

So that’s what I would tell you. So there are really four. Now, let me recap that really quick. So the five bad things and four good things about supplements. Number one was many supplements are spiked with pharmaceuticals or drugs. Number two is counterfeit supplements are ubiquitous, especially on Amazon. Number three supplement manufacturers hide behind proprietary formulas.

Number four, many supplements just don’t work, but manufacturers sell them anyway because people buy them because of marketing. Number five, some supplements can be dangerous if you have certain medical conditions. And the four things we just went over that are the positive, are on how to use supplements responsibly. Supplements do work. Don’t listen to anyone who tells you that they don’t. Like some doctors will say, “Oh supplements don’t work.”

It’s like, you can’t just say that, or “I don’t believe in supplements.” I’ve heard someone say that. It’s not the Easter Bunny. There’s a ton of research, like creatine monohydrate has hundreds and hundreds of papers on it. You can’t just say you don’t believe it. It’s ridiculous to say, that’s a ridiculous statement.

Number two, supplements should be based on your needs. Don’t just hope that you’re taking—just be like, “Oh gosh, I want to feel healthier, I want to be healthier. Let me buy a bunch of supplements.” If you’re doing that, that’s a sign that your anxiety levels are high, you probably need to manage your stress, you’re probably overweight, you probably don’t exercise enough or properly. Focus on the big things.

Number three is pay attention to how you feel. If you start taking a supplement like that protein powder I had in Brazil. Or the acetyl l carnitine that I had bought in the US from a good company, but made me feel jittery and irritable, it may not be worth it to take it. And number four is get your blood panel done regularly to make sure everything is okay.

Let’s briefly talk about testosterone boosters. So number one, testosterone boosters typically fall under the combination supplement, if you remember me talking about that. They fall under that combination supplement genre, if you will. And so the issue with combination supplements is they’re going to have a bunch of things in them. They’re probably going to hide behind proprietary formulas, although they may not. Some don’t.

Like, this guy said that he was taking one that helped them feel better. And it’s like, well, that could be anything. It could be placebo, it could be from the caffeine they put in it. It could be from the zinc. You could just take a zinc supplement, and you’d feel better when you woke up in the morning. I don’t even know what he meant by ‘it felt better.’

If you’re talking about sexual performance, especially for men, Citrulline Powder is cheap. Take six grams of it a day, you’re welcome. Add in another 100 milligrams of Pycnogenol before you make love, and you’re welcome. I think testosterone boosters are bullshit. Not only do I think that there’s nothing that shows, number one, that anything really boosts testosterone that much. And testosterone is really a tricky thing to even talk about because a lot of social things boost testosterone.

And then the other thing is, even if it did boost testosterone, how much is it actually boosting your testosterone? If it’s within the physiological limits, so in other words, you’re at, let’s say, 500 deciliters per…I forget the panel…What do you call it? The units. So I forget the units. But let’s say you’re at 500…Oh, gosh, let me see if I can look that up real quick. So just edit this out.

Okay, so let’s say that you’re at 500 nanograms per deciliter, and you take a supplement, and you go up to 550 or 600. Is that really going to change anything for you? We’re not sure. And my guess is probably not. So a lot of this stuff is placebo, or it’s something else. It’s affecting you in some other way. And it’s not testosterone. Based on my knowledge based on talking to experts, based on reading research, that’s what I would tell you.

If you want to get a steroid-like pump without steroid risks, take creatine monohydrate and eat the right amount of calories. Here’s your testosterone boosting supplement formula. Number one, if you’re a guy, get down to 15% body fat. If you’ve got a belly, then address the problem, because the more fat you have, especially visceral fat, it’s going to be more inflammatory, it’s going to cause more health problems.

Do the right thing. Stop taking a $50 supplement thinking it’s going to fix your shitty lifestyle. If you need to hear it, now you’ve heard it. Get down to 15% body fat. Number two, lift weights regularly. And don’t kill yourself with the weights either. Don’t walk out feeling like you’ve been destroyed. Walk out feeling like you worked hard and you feel good.

Number three, sleep seven to nine hours per night. We know that sleep deprivation or if you sleep five or less hours per night, it’s going to have an impact on your testosterone. Number four, manage your stress. Does cortisol directly steal testosterone away? Or does it just raise what’s called your testosterone to cortisol ratio?

That’s a good question I don’t have the answer to, but lower your stress. Because I think what a lot of people feel like—men feel like in particular, it’s like I need a testosterone booster. It’s like, no, you have too much stress. There’s not even a problem with your testosterone. Okay, not even a problem with your testosterone. There’s a problem with your lifestyle. You’re too stressed. You sleep only five and a half hours per night, you hate your job, whatever the situation is.

Stress kind of crushes, even if you were taking steroids and had super physiological levels of testosterone, it would make you maybe feel better about your life, but it wouldn’t fix the root problem. So fix the root problem. And then the other thing is, the last thing I would say is, you know what, win in life, get more wins in life. Do the work and win.

And I don’t mean in the gym, or with your body fat this time, I mean win in life, win in life. What do I mean by that? Is that just bullshit that I’m spilling? No. There’s research that shows that when you’re watching a sports game and your team wins, you get a boost of testosterone. If you watch your political candidate win, again, boost of testosterone.

And guess what happens to the people who lose, lower testosterone and higher cortisol levels. So, win. And it doesn’t have to be with someone else. Well, let me go find a winning sports team or a winning political candidate. No, go win in your own life, go get more wins in your own life. And that’s all I’ve got to say about that.

So I hope this was educational. You want to keep the conversation going? Reach out to me on Twitter @ted_ryce, that is where I’m the most active, and on Instagram at the same name, @ted_ryce. I would love to hear, did this hit home for you? Did you learn something that helped shift your perspective? Do you disagree with me? Hit me up. We’d love to hear from you. All right, that’s it. Have an amazing weekend. Speak to you on Monday.



Ted Ryce is a high-performance coach, celebrity trainer, and a longevity evangelist. A leading fitness professional for over 24 years in the Miami Beach area, who has worked with celebrities like Sir Richard Branson, Rick Martin, Robert Downey, Jr., and hundreads of CEOs of multimillion-dollar companies. In addition to his fitness career, Ryce is the host of the top-rated podcast called Legendary Life, which helps men and women reclaim their health, and create the body and life they deserve.

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