If you have been in the south gym lately, you likely will have noticed three things. First, there is a hole in the ceiling with water dripping down (it’s been a real headache for Jared, since the building maintenance has been not been doing this repair “for time”). Second, the whiteboard has been replaced with some fancy sheets of paper (small little explosive accident that will soon be remedied). Lastly, there is a new Blonyx banner hanging up in the corner. We recently partnered up with Blonyx to offer members products that can boost their performance. With so many supplements being sold by various companies in the fitness industry, I figured it would be a good idea to inform every one of which supplements have been proven to work, which ones do nothing more than turn your pee yellow, and which ones are actually a little scary. Naturally, I will start off with the products we have in the gym. However, don’t think that I am just attempting to sell these products to you; I am only educating you on what the research has shown. Feel free to do your own research, or use the links to studies I have posted below.
Although there are hundreds of thousands of supplements being sold, research has shown that very few of them actually have any sort of effect. Even still, the effect that is marketed may be limited to certain sub-population, such as elderly individuals or people with certain diagnoses. In order to figure out what products will work for the healthy athlete in the gym, you must look closely at what research has been done. In doing this, there are only just over a handful of products that are actually worth their value. I will begin with one of the most well-known and well-researched supplements, creatine.
There are many forms of creatine: creatine monohydrate, creatine esters, creatine salts, microionized creatine, etc. I am only going to focus on creatine monohydrate, as this has been proven to be the most effective. I could go into detail about the biochemistry behind creatine, but most of you would fall asleep before the end of the paragraph. To put it simply, creatine works by creating more ATP in your muscle cells. ATP is used to create energy to do work. This means you can generate more force and lift more weight. Specifically, creatine helps with explosive lifts such as the clean and jerk or the snatch. It also helps in low rep ranges for almost all movements, such as doing the CrossFit Total. By taking creatine, your muscles will be able to produce more power and you will be able to lift more weight. This will help to build more muscle to sustain that weight, so you will keep your strength even if you cycle off the creatine.
Like I said earlier though, there are some specifics to every product. You must have a certain amount of creatine for it to be effective. The easiest way to do it is to take at least 5 grams of creatine per day. The effect will not be immediate, as it will take some time for the creatine to store up in your body. Most people will starting feeling the difference in the second and third weeks. This also means that you cannot expect to take a gram of creatine every so often and see results. You must commit to taking it for a little while to see gains in performance. SFH has a product called Strong that contains the necessary 5 grams of creatine. Blonyx also has a product specifically for this. The directions are simple. Take a scoop in the morning and a scoop a night. No need to weigh it out or worry that you’re not actually getting the full required amount. This is because there are only two ingredients to this product, and the other ingredient makes me pretty excited.
The product made by Blonyx is called HMB + Creatine. HMB stands for hydroxymethylbutyrate and it’s a breakdown product of the amino acid leucine. HMB works through various signaling pathways to decrease muscle breakdown. Basically, as you workout, you breakdown muscle. This is why you feel sore the next day (or the whole next week depending on the workout). HMB decreases this breakdown to help you feel less sore and ready to go for your next workout. Just like creatine, it is a long term product. You must take it daily overtime to feel these results. HMB only requires 1-3 grams per day, however. In Blonyx’s product, you will get 3 grams for the day. This combination of HMB and creatine has me excited. Combining decreased muscle breakdown (less soreness) with increased muscle building kills two birds with one stone. Expect to see some gains made with this one. Jared took Blonyx Creatine + HMB in the year leading up to qualifying for the CrossFit Games, and it has his full stamp of approval which is often-times few and far between.
The last supplement I will discuss is much less known by its name. However, there is an interesting side effect that some people may know. If you have ever taken a pre-workout and felt tingling on your face or down your arms, you have experienced one of the side effects of beta-alanine. Beta-alanine does something interesting in the body. It helps to buffer acid build-up in muscle. Think of lactic acid production and the burning you feel while working out. Beta-alanine helps to decrease this burn and provide an optimal environment for your muscles to function efficiently. The most gain is seen during activity that lasts between 1-3 minutes, or medium rep range lifting. I used to take beta-alanine when I ran track and loved the difference it made. Just as before, the product requires a storage to build up and therefore must be taken over time. Doses of 3-6 grams daily have found to be the most effective. With Blonyx Beta-Alanine, you will consume 3 grams twice per day. This lower single dose taken with food will help to reduce the tingling side effect.
These three supplements have some of the most research behind them proving an increased performance. Whether you are seeking higher maxes, faster times, or just better body composition, these three can be a major help. If you have any questions about the products, just ask me or Jared. We will also be posting some informative flyers around the gym. Next week, I will discuss the rest of the supplements that have been proven effective for health and performance. Then, I will get into some of the most commonly used supplements that either do nothing or don’t work the way most people think they do. Until next week, stay hungry my friends.