Visual Impact Challenge: The Supplements

visual impact supplementsIn the past two months, I’ve been on a mission to gain some serious muscle mass.

It’s been my latest challenge.

I told you guys how I’m going to eat and how I’m going to train for the sake of putting on pounds and pounds of muscle.

Today I want to briefly go over what supplements I’m using to help take my training (and results) to the next level.

If you’ve read my thoughts on supplementation, then you know that I believe certain supplements have their rightful spot in the fitness world. If we lived in a perfect world, then yes we could probably get all of our needed nutrients from the foods that we eat. But we don’t. Not even close. If you want to achieve optimal results, then supplements can give you that needed boost.

For this challenge, I’ve decided to experiment a little bit. I wanted to step outside of my ‘supplement box’. I’m going to be trying a few supplements that I’ve never taken before to see how they affect my results.

I really have no idea what’s going to happen.

It might work or it might come back to slap me in the face. But that’s the beauty of experimentation.

So here is a full list of the supplements I’m taking to maximize my results for the Visual Impact Challenge.

1) Protein

This one is a given. I’ve been using protein powders for a long time now and I think they are a vital component to any training program. I’ve talked about this before, but it’s worth going over again. Protein is the most important muscle building (and muscle sustaining) element in your body. It’s the essential building block for muscle.

Without sufficient protein, your muscles will not grow. Period.

What protein am I taking? Good question.

I always make sure to look for as-natural-as-it-can-get protein powders with no additives. As you’ve probably seen in my Eating for Size article, the protein that I’m using for this challenge (and have been using for along time) is the 100% Gold Standard Natural Whey Protein.

100% Gold Standard Natural Whey Protein

The one big factor I’ve been playing around with is time of consumption. I’ve been talking with a few experts (read: long time users) about what they thought was the best time to take a protein supplement. Before a workout? During a workout? After a workout?

After some discussion and experimentation I’ve noticed that I get the best results when I start taking my protein supplement at some point midway through my workout. This way, as my workout is coming to an end, the protein is ready for absorption.

Note: I always take my protein powder with 2-3 tablespoons of dextrose (sugar). This helps quicken the absorption process.

2) Creatine

This was a huge addition to my supplement collection. I’ve always been on the fence when it came to Creatine. I know it is a highly effective, scientifically-backed supplement. But, at the same time, the fact that no long term studies exist on the usage of this supplement always forces me to think twice.

For the sake of this challenge, I’ve decided to go ahead and give it a shot. I get a lot of questions about Creatine and I’m tired of giving answers that I’ve only read about – now I will have personal experience to reflect on and I’ll be able to give more valuable advice. The fitness world supports it. Rusty’s program recommends it. So f*ck it – I’m jumping on board and rolling with the punches.

Remember, Creatine is a naturally occurring substance in your body. At any given time you have roughly 120g of Creatine stored in your body – more than 90% of that being stored in muscle tissue.

The average person’s daily requirement of Creatine is roughly 2g – half of that is manufactured by the body, the other half comes from our diet (i.e. fish, red meat).

The purpose of Creatine within muscle tissue is simply to help create energy. Stored in a state known as phosphocreatine, it is there to be used during high-intensity, anaerobic activity (such as sprinting, for example).

There is a lot of science behind this that I’ll try to summarize in another post, but for now all that you need to know is that Creatine helps create energy. It doesn’t magically make you bigger. It allows you to work harder. It helps you get those extra few reps in. You still have to do the work if you want the results.

The Creatine I’m getting is from a well-trusted site – TrueProtein. I’m paying $5.27/lb which is incredibly cheap. I got myself 2 lbs which is way more than I’ll never need.

Creatine Monohydrate for the Visual Impact Challenge

If you want to learn everything there is to know about Creatine, then check out a book called Creatine – A Practical Guide by Dr. Franco-Obregón. It will show you how to fully take advantage of this incredible supplement.

3) Multivitamin

There’s nothing new about this one. I’ve been in the routine of taking one multivitamin a day for quite some time now and it has helped keep me healthy and robust.

This is one supplement I recommend that you take regardless of whether you’re training or not. It will ensure you get all the vitamins and minerals you need for your body to function optimally.

4) Fish Oil

This is another new supplement I’ve decided to add to my daily routine. It is a supplement I’ve been meaning to try for a few months now and figured this challenge would be a perfect time to start.

Fish oil is a great source of Omega 3 fatty acids – DHA & DEA. Increasing your consumption of them will provide your body with some ridiculous health benefits. For this challenge particularly, since my training intensity will be pretty high due to shortened rest periods and a high volume of reps, the Omega 3s should help improve my recovery time. It should improve joint health and lower inflammation. It should also improve my testosterone levels as I’m trying to gain muscle mass.

I’ll be taking 4 capsules per day during the course of this challenge to see how it affects my body. I got my fish oil supplements from the same place I got my Creatine – TrueProtein. They have an amazing deal: 1000 capsules for $25!

Fish Oil Supplement for the Visual Impact Challenge

I’ve never been too involved with supplements. I try to stay as natural as possible. But this challenge calls for big results so I’ve stepped outside of my comfort zone for the sake of experiment.

Let’s see what happens.

What are your thoughts on these supplements? Are there things you would add or eliminate? What would you do differently? Share in the comments below!

20 thoughts on “Visual Impact Challenge: The Supplements”

  1. I still really give supplements a miss, I guess I’m too cheap and I don’t really care if they are going to help or not.
    I just can’t stand the thought of having a line of bottles, boxes and pills ready to digest everyday. I just like to be free of all those restraints.
    Same thing like having to eat every 3 hours I rather eat when I’m hungry and that can be little or a lot depending on how I feel.
    I will admit I use a protein powders because it’s convenient to use and sometimes I don’t feel like eating so a drinking is OK for me.
    Having said all that ..I’ve seem some really muscular lean guys in prison, do you think they have a daily supplementation? maybe steroids but that could be hard to get where they are!
    However I do think supplements can help for health or at least can’t hurt.
    Raymond

    1. You got some good points Raymond, but I promise I don’t have a line of bottles and pills lined up on my counter :). The majority of the time I like to stick with the basics – protein powders and multivitamins – but for this challenge I wanted to try something different.

      That’s a good question and one I have thought about myself a few times – how the hell do those guys build such incredible muscle mass with inadequate nutrition?? They clearly exercise a lot (although I’ve read that they’re thinking about taking away weights from prison yards), but without proper nutrition I’m not sure how they do it.

  2. Srdjan,

    Sounds like a good list to me. I cycle the creatine around mass building phases as Rusty recommends. I’d also add BCAAs to the list, although I find these more useful for fasted training which I assume you’re not doing a whole lot of with your current mass building diet.

    Alykhan

    1. I’ve been reading about BCAAs lately and they seem to be really effective. I don’t really plan on giving them a try until maybe phase 3 of the program. I’m curious to see what kind of effect it has. What kind of effects have you noticed with it?

      1. Biggest effect for me is more fullness in my muscles than before following fasted training. I think they will be perfect for you in Phase 3. When you’re in a mass building phase, you probably aren’t doing much fasted training so they may not make much of a difference.

  3. Srdjan,
    Right on with this supplements list. There’s so much hype surrounding certain supplements and gaining muscle mass. All it takes is training properly, eating right, and using basic supplements like those you listed here.

    I also take Optimum Nutrition Whey Protein along with my multi vitamins from Optimum Nutrition and I have been happy for a long time. Protein and vitamins should be the foundation for anyone who is training.

    However, if anyone thinks they will look like a pro bodybuilder with supplements they are fooling themselves. To reach Mr. Olympia proportions it takes a lot more, and has very little to do with supplements.

    -Sam

    1. I’ve heard some good things about Optimum Nutrition – I’ll have to give it a try. You’re last point is an important one – supplements are not magical. They won’t give you instant results. You still have to put in the work.

      Thanks for the comment Sam!

  4. I used to take everything, but these days I steer clear of supplements; a combination of the time/inconvenience factor, and the cost – I used to spend a ton! (I do take fish oil though)

    That said the creatine is going to help volumize your muscles, especially as you’ve never used it before, (supplement adverts usually feature first time users for this reason) so hold onto your hat!

    Michael

    1. That’s one factor I never really got into – the cost. Supplements can definitely be costly so you have to be smart about it.

      And I’ve definitely noticed the volumization (is that a word?) – my hat’s long gone 🙂

  5. That’s a solid list Serge,

    I replaced fish oil with krill oil. Here are some of the benefits of krill oil over fish oil:

    * 47 times the antioxidant power of regular fish oil.
    * 500% better absorption by your body than regular fish oil, according to U.S. Government National Institutes Of Health.
    * A recent study at McGill University, showed that krill oil increased good cholesterol 10 times better than fish oil.
    * The same study showed that it dropped 16 times more bad cholesterol than fish oil.

    You can read more about this on Rusty’s Fitnessblackbook website here.

    I am yet to try Optimum Nutrition company. It has won the title of the best supplement award on the latest Olympia competition, so that’s gotta be a pretty solid company. I am currently using Champions nutrition whey protein as they have some of the best flavors I’ve had so far plus is has a solid amount of BCAAs in there already.

    For my multi, I am taking animal pak which, in my opinion is absolutely the best in the market (Just look at the nutrition facts and you will see what I’m talking about).

    For the creatine, I’m using animal pump because it has again such a fantastic ingredients in there (creatine, NO, energy rush, antioxidant, and pump transport complex). Trust me, once you try animal pump, your workouts will never be the same.

    That’s about all of my supplements I take right now. When I’m in a fat loss routine program I like to throw in a solid fat burner pill along.

    But don’t get me wrong here. I only take the supps because they help me achieve my goals faster along with my solid workout and diet plan. I train hard and heavy when in the gym and try to keep my diet in check. Without these two things I would have never taken any supps.

    Cheers,

  6. Great stack. I don’t think supplements are necessary (whole food ftw), but it definitely helps. I will probably throw in some caesein and probiotics too. Also, I found that many gym goers (natural, of course) like to take niacin and CoQ10.

  7. Yes you have the basics well covered with those four in terms of muscle building anyway. I do believe however that your multivitamin should be whole food source, as it’s now known that synthetic vitamins can do more harm than good over the long term.

    Also I’m planning to make the switch to krill oil for my omega 3’s as I’ve heard such good things about this.

    I used to spend a lot on supplements but I know now that most of them are just not worth it.

    1. Hey David, thanks for your comment. I have recently switched up my Multivitamin source but I can’t recall the name. I’ll let you know though. But I see your point – I’ll take a look at the composition.

      As for fish oil vs krill oil, there’s always a big debate. They are very similar and both are effective for releaving aches and pains. But one of the reasons I choose fish oil instead of krill oil is because krill oil is much more expensive in terms of how much DHA you’re getting. The omega 3 essential fatty acids you get from these oils are DHA and EPA, with DHA being considered the most important for your health. Krill oil has much lower DHA content than fish oil so you have to take more of it to get the same benefits. So it ends up being a lot more expensive. Just my thoughts.

      And I think supplements can work if you know how and when to use them effectively. But I don’t think they are necessary at all.

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