Most supplements are useless. Especially most that do not consist of a single ingredient are. What oftentimes does make sense is supplementing your diet with things that you lack. Remember, always put diet, training and rest before supplementation. This goes for spending money as well. Always spend money on the gym bill and food before buying supplements.
Notable things you might think about (I usually buy off the shelf, others swear by higher quality things):
  • Fish Oil.[1][2][3][4][5][6]If you don’t eat much fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, …), you are most likely deficient in omega-3 fatty acids (EPA/DHA; ignore ALA as your body has to convert it). Get some fish oil. This will make you smarter, less sick, reduces risk of disease [7], improves mood [8], helps with fat loss and you will recover better, along with a plethora of other health benefits. A total intake of EPA/DHA of 1.8-3.0 grams per day is suggested. Don't forget to count the calories from your fish oil either, each gram of fat is still 9 calories.
  • Vitamin D.[9][10][11][12][13] We usually get this from sunlight. If you are not tanned, chances are you’re deficient in this. Most people are. Get your blood levels measured, or take your chances and just get some. Vitamin D is involved in pretty much everything. If you’re deficient in it, supplementing it helps your bones, prevents cancers, raises testosterone levels[14][15] and … everything. There is, again, some granny scare about Vitamin D being poison, but it's actually quite hard to poison yourself on vitamin D as you would need to take more than 10000 IU/day.[16][17][18] Make sure you buy it in Vitamin D3 form (Cholecalceferol). Taking one 5000IU capsule a day is sufficient. Take it with meals or with your fish oil.
  • Protein powder. If you don’t easily get enough from food, get some cheap whey, casein, or milk protein. Which type you get doesn't matter[19][20][21]. These are quite convenient, and almost as nutrient rich as regular food. You don’t need them, despite for what supplement sellers tell you, whole food sources of protein are equivalent or better compared to whey or BCAAs/Amino Acids; but some convenient powder ain’t bad either. They only serve as one purpose, and that's a meal replacement.
  • Magnesium, folate, fiber, zinc, vitamin C: most people are not getting as many of these as they should. Depending on how your diet is, consider supplementing these while you adjust your diet.
Conveniently, all of these are pretty cheap. Especially Vitamin D. Fish Oil and Vitamin D are two things everybody should supplement. Everything else is optional.
The exceptions to the "supplements suck" rule are few:
  • Creatine will help a bit with strength and it's safe. [22][23][24] Get it in monohydrate form only - it is just as effective (or more) as the other forms, and a lot cheaper.[25][26] Just take 5g (1tsp) every day, at any time. No need to load or cycle.[27][28][29][30] See here if you want a deeper understanding of the biochemical workings.
  • Ephedrine[31], and especially the ephedrine + caffeine combo (EC Stack), helps with losing fat. Go here, and more advanced info here. Don't fuck this up, Ephedrine is a drug and may be illegal and/or dangerous. For people in the US, you cannot buy Ephedrine directly - most people get it via over-the-counter Bronkaid.
  • A multivitamin/mineral supplement isn't as important as people believe it to be. The dosages of the ingredients are of negligible effect. Although it never hurts to supplement a cheap multi as a backup, don't spend a large amount of money buying "special formulations". Get your nutrients through your food.
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