If you want to know what supplements actually work (and which ones I take), pay close attention to this strictly no B.S. article.
If you want all the help you can get to build muscle and lose fat, this is for you. I’ll also help you save some cash by telling you where to get them cheaply.
NOTE: Before I detail the full list, please be aware that MuscleHack readers are entitled to 10% off their orders at MyProtein – not just 1 order, but every time you buy (MyProtein is where I get my own supplements).
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I’ll do this in 4 sections:
- The biggest, most important supplements
- Pre-workout supplements
(1) THE BIG ONES
It’s just protein. While there’s nothing magical about it, and you can get all your protein from food, whey is the highest “bio-available” protein source, and it’s extremely convenient for meeting your daily protein needs (about 1g protein per pound of body weight). It’s also perfect for your post-workout protein fix when the last thing you want to do is eat a couple of chicken fillets.
How To Take It: Simply take when needed to hit your daily protein target. Ideally, take 40g in your post-workout shake.
It works   and it’s safe . Forget the hype surrounding other forms of creatine. The real research shows that monohydrate is the far superior form  .
How To Take It: Take 5g in your post-workout shake – just add it to your whey. I do recommend “loading” with creatine first before this maintenance phase (get details on how to load here).
Consider glutamine supplementation optional. Many people aren’t fans, citing a lack of research.
However, the more intensely you train, the more glutamine your body needs. Low glutamine levels can lead to muscle loss, and protein synthesis levels (the rate that you build muscle) are proportional to muscle glutamine levels.
If you’ve got the money, go for it. But I would prioritize the other supplements in this article first.
How To Take It: Simply put 5g in your post-workout shake along with your whey and creatine, as stated above. So a great post-workout shake to kick-start the anabolic process is 40g whey, 5g creatine, 5g glutamine.
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(2) PRE-WORKOUT SUPPLEMENTS
Want massive energy, drive, and awesome pumps? Ofcourse you do! But you don’t need to pay megabucks for pre-workout formulas that include loads of filler ingredients.
In fact, this formula will last you anywhere between 6 months to a year for a measly $43!! (See this article for more.)
As stated in my popular Homemade NO-Xplode Knock-Off article, the 3 active ingredients in these supplements are:
- L-Arginine AKG
Nitric Oxide supplements claim to work by increasing blood flow to working muscles and increasing mental and physical energy during your workout.
The Arginine AKG (AAKG) increases nitric oxide production – the whole basis that these pre-workout nitric oxide supplements are marketed on. The blood vessels dilate meaning more blood can reach muscle tissue, giving you bigger PUMPS and providing more nutrients and hormones responsible for muscle growth.
There is solid research regarding the efficacy of Beta-Alanine and it SHOULD play a regular role in your supplementation. This study  showed beta alanine supplementers gained an extra 1lb of muscle over 8 weeks as compared to the placebo group.
Lastly, I’ve already stated in a previous post that pre-workout caffeine works.
How To Take It: Mix 4g of AAKG with 2g of Beta-Alanine in water (or whatever you like) and wash it down with 200mg caffeine 30 minutes before your workout. You’ve got yourself a very POTENT cocktail!
If you want to maximize results, your body needs to be healthy and to be able to recuperate at optimal levels. Most of your micronutrient needs should be met with diet, but lifting creates extra demand on the body. I take all my micronutrients together first thing in the morning.
There are a number of health benefits of supplementing with Vitamin D. But 2 studies, one on mice  and one on humans , show that it indeed may help accelerate muscle growth.
How To Take It: If you don’t live in a sunny climate, take 5000 IU (international units) to 10,000 per day.
Again, there are a number of health benefits associated with fish oil supplementation.
How To Take It: Take 1 – 3 1g capsules per day
ZMA (or just magnesium)
Optimal magnesium levels can lead to increased strength and shows a show a correlation with protein synthesis levels .
How To Take It: Take up to a max (no more) of 500mg of magnesium per day. For ZMA, it’s usually 1 capsule per day.
Should be fairly self-explanatory. Hacking into our muscle tissue 3-5 times a week places a greater demand on our bodies than for ordinary folk. Make sure you’ve got all bases covered with a high quality multivitamin.
How To Take It: See packaging for details.
(4) FAT BURNERS
I just don’t recommend these. They’re complete rubbish and unnecessary. What you really need is the optimal diet and workout for fat loss.
Yes an ephedrine and caffeine stack works, but ephedrine was made illegal as a fat loss supplement a few years ago.
However, clinical research has consistently verified the effectiveness of E/C on fat loss over placebos.
Ephedrine/caffeine doesn’t just speed up your metabolism, it also helps suppress hunger. Furthermore, you’ll still have the energy (physical and mental) to power through your training make gains. As such, it’s no wonder ephedrine used to be an integral part of a bodybuilder’s supplementation when cutting.
Where To Get It: I’ve been told that over-the-counter products like Bronkaid of Primatene contain ephedrine. Apart from that, I don’t know how you’d get a non-fat-loss ephedrine. Century supplements in Canada used to carry it. If you know, please leave some info in the comments section below.
How To Take It: 25 milligrams of ephedrine and 200 milligrams of caffeine to be taken together 3 times daily. In total the daily dose is 75 milligrams of ephedrine and 600 milligrams of caffeine. The caffeine has no real effect on its own, but worked to enhance the effectiveness of the ephedrine. But even 1 dose of 25mg E/200mg C will help with your workouts when cutting down below 10% body fat.
Train With Intensity!
REFERENCES: Creatine: a possible stimulus skeletal cardiac muscle hypertrophy. Recent Adv Stud Cardiac Struct Metab. 1975;8:467-81.  International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: creatine supplementation and exercise. “Creatine monohydrate is the most effective ergogenic nutritional supplement currently available to athletes in terms of increasing high-intensity exercise capacity and lean body mass during training.”  Kre-alkalyn® supplementation has no beneficial effect on creatine-to-creatinine conversion rates. Tallon MJ and Child R  Creatine ethyl ester rapidly degrades to creatinine in stomach acid. Child R, Tallon M: Abstract presented at 4th annual conference of the ISSN 2007.
 Effects of β-alanine supplementation on performance and body composition in collegiate wrestlers and football players. Kern BD, Robinson TL. J Strength Cond Res. 2011 Jul;25(7):1804-15.
 Vitamin D3 stimulates myogenic differentiation by inhibiting cell proliferation and modulating the expression of promyogenic growth factors and myostatin in C2C12 skeletal muscle cells.
Garcia LA, King KK, Ferrini MG, Norris KC, Artaza JN. Endocrinology. 2011 Aug;152(8):2976-86. Epub 2011 Jun 14.
 Association of vitamin D status with serum androgen levels in men. Wehr E, Pilz S, Boehm BO, März W, Obermayer-Pietsch B. Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 2010 Aug;73(2):243-8. Epub 2009 Dec 29. Effects of magnesium and zinc deficiencies on growth and protein synthesis in skeletal muscle and the heart. British Journal of Nuwition (1991), 66, 493-504
HERE ARE THE SUPPLEMENTS I HIGHLY RECOMMEND
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SOME OF MY FAV PRODUCTS
The supps I get on a regular basis are: