Before I go into specifics, I want to point out my headline…in case you missed it. ^^^ I’m not—I repeat—I am not a nutritionist. The supplements I take are based on my personal activities, goals, and other factors, like age, gender, and geography. I did not see a nutritionist or coach to build my stack; everything I take I selected from my own research (and hours of it, I might add). I suggest you do the same. Now that we’ve cleared that up…
Here’s a bit about me:
- 31-year-old female
- 136 pounds
- Work out 6 times a week (15-20 HIIT cardio + 45 minutes of weightlifting)
- Hike/outdoor activities ~weekly
- Live in the Seattle area (yes, this matters – we don’t get a lot of sun)
- Current goals include: fat loss, muscle maintenance, energy, overall immune health
I’ve had trouble with vitamins in the past. No matter what I did, I had terrible heartburn after taking them. I would take them with food, chase ‘em with a warm drink, consume lots of water…on and on. Nothing helped. Finally, I read that some people take them at night for the same reason, so I started popping my vitamins before bed and never looked back. Here’s what I take:
- Multivitamin for women
- Vitamin C with rosehips (immune system, connective tissues)
- Time-released B-Complex with folic acid and biotin (energy – helps convert food to fuel)
- Vitamin D3 (due to Seattle’s lack of sun – see, told you geography matters!)
- Cod Liver Oil (anti-inflammatory, skin health, brain health, depression)
I drink my protein shake (25 grams of protein) and take 2100 mg of creatine an hour before my workout, followed by my pre-workout drink with 5.75 grams of added branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) about 30-45 minutes prior to working out. And yes, I have to pee like crazy as soon as I get to the gym!
- Labrada Lean Body for Her (muscle growth and healing)
- Optimum Nutrition unflavored BCAAs (protects muscles against catabolism)
- Prime Nutrition Max HP (energy/endurance/strength/pump/fat burner)
- MET-Rx Creatine (increases muscle strength/size and improves recovery)
Of course, I drink lots of water all day, throughout my workout, and following the gym. Gotta stay hydrated! I also make sure to have some carbs and protein, along with another dose of creatine (2100 mg). Splitting your creatine pre- and post-workout is probably bro science, but whatevs, it’s what I do.
To help with digestion, I take probiotics with meals (when I remember!) because I’ve always struggled with stomach problems (i.e., celiac, IBS).
I’m a research nerd, so I feel that this stack is appropriate for my current situation and personal profile—and it’s been serving me well. I’ve added things over time since I first started my journey in October of 2014, and other things I’ve changed. I don’t like artificial sweeteners (and they don’t like me!), which is why I chose the above supps. Max HP has stevia, which I’d prefer it didn’t, but it’s the best thing I’ve found so far, and at least it doesn’t have Splenda or aspartame. Green tea is a great natural pre-workout with thermogenic fat burning properties, but unfortunately, it gave me massive migraine headaches, so that’s a no-go.
There are a ton of options out there and it can be confusing and overwhelming. I know. My recommendation is that you start with what you feel your biggest need is (Not getting enough protein? Find a shake you like. Need better endurance during your workout? Choose a pre-workout with great reviews.). And DO YOUR RESEARCH. Additionally, whenever you can get your nutrients from your diet, do it! I try to eat a variety of nutrient-rich foods daily in an attempt to meet my needs through diet alone, but I choose to supplement in case there are gaps. If you’re eating a balanced diet (you are, right? RIGHT??), you shouldn’t have to worry about micronutrients like zinc and iron, for example.
And finally, my obligatory gym rat statement: yes, I think supplements are a great tool to help you reach your goals. But more important than any supplement is whether you PUT IN WORK and EAT RIGHT. All the supplements in the world will not help you if your fitness and nutrition aren’t on-point.
Okay, I’ve shown you mine, will you show me yours? What supplements do you take?
Note: I have no affiliations with any of the above-mentioned brands and have never received payment or compensation of any kind for including them in this post. They don’t even know I exist. But hey, if ya’ll are listening…my stock is running low :-p