We have representatives from both Progenex and GENR8 in the Eat To Perform Science Lab, and they have been great about getting us info so people can make more informed decisions related to their health choices. Science Lab membership is free when you buy Met Flex for Fat Loss.
Proper supplementation around training is one of those things that can make a big difference in how you feel and perform. I know some people don’t agree, and they’d prefer to get all of their nutrition from whole foods. It should be obvious that I am not suggesting that people should live on protein shakes and carbohydrate drinks; the majority of my diet comes down to whole foods. So while I suspect a fair amount of noise related to a supplement post, the simple facts are these:
- The quicker your carbs can load, the more moderate your intake can be, and you can get back to burning fat. If you want to get all of that from sweet potatoes, have at it but not everyone has the time or the stomach capacity.
- You’ll notice that throughout this post, I recommend products from Progenex. Why? Well, Progenex makes some amazing stuff and they sponsor our sport. Clearly their products are approved, and they care about our sport. End of story.
I am going to start off with the easiest recommendation: in my pre-workout and post workout drinks, I use Vitargo. I will talk a bit more about my workout nutrition at the end of this post. Typically, I use two scoops which is 70 grams of fast-loading carbs. The goal of carbohydrate consumption is to get the carbs in and out of your system as quickly as possible. This is favorable as it relates to keeping insulin levels low and blood sugar stable. The simple fact is that you need carbs for protein turnover to elicit muscle growth and (more importantly for most people) muscle maintenance. If you are struggling finding great carb sources, struggle no longer; Vitargo is the best product on the market. It’s not cheap, but in the end you get what you pay for.
In my pre-workout and post-workout drink, I use both “Recovery” and “More Muscle”. Both are hydrolyzed whey (more on that in the next paragraph) with an additional filtering process that breaks the aminos down for better absorption. (Which means you maintain and potentially build muscle better as a result.) Before bed, I use their “Cocoon” product and I couldn’t recommend it more.
All Whey protein isn’t created equal. There isolates and concentrates, but by far the best choice for building muscle is a whey hydrolysate because of the rapid rate of absorption. One issue I addressed with Progenex is their use of sucralose as a sweetener. Per bag, there is a very small amount of this noncaloric sweetener (basically equal to about a half of a packet of Splenda.) What people don’t realize (and it’s addressed on Examine.com) is that unless hydrolysates are flavored with fructose or sucralose, they are literally gag worthy. That is why there are sweeteners in their Recovery and More Muscle products.
As far as an alternative, they tried stevia, and it tasted awful. If you have used any supplements with stevia, what you find is that they have to use a lot to make it tastes right and it becomes basically a stevia supplement with a side of Chocolate or Vanilla. I have researched this topic endlessly; if I thought a half of a packet of Splenda would harm me or kill my performance, I would not put it in my body and I would not recommend it to you. If they could have made the product taste more like chocolate and less like stevia they would have done that because obviously they know it’s a sticky point for a few people. They couldn’t and you can’t. Period.
Here is a quote from Examine.com explaining the rational behind using a sweetener with whey hydrolysate. The guys at Examine do a great job writing up completely unbiased reviews for supplements. “This bitter taste, especially that of the hydrolyzed whey (very bitter) can be somewhat negated by sucralose, fructose, sucrose, 5’AMP, 5’AMP disodium, sodium acetate and monosodium glutamate (MSG). Table salt is partially effective, while the combination of cold water and a sour stimuli can suppress bitterness”
Cocoon is great for getting restful and restorative sleep. If your sleep is off, it’s very hard to recover from training so this is obviously a big part of the deal. Cocoon contains a slow acting protein with L-Tryptophan. I have had to use melatonin occasionally when I was dealing with sleep troubles, but I no longer do. Cocoon does the trick. The effect is literally drool-on-your-pillow-type sleep. You wake up refreshed and ready for your WOD’s. (For more advice on fixing disordered sleep, check out our sleep tutorial article.)
I use two other supplements from Progenex: their “Omega Plus” product and their “Force” products (pre-workout). The Omegas are a fast absorbing fat source and the active ingredient in their Force product is beta-alanine, which allows for better performance during training by clearing oxidative waste from the muscle so the mitochondria can work more efficiently. If there was any supplement that was literally meant for what we do, it would be Force.
Creatine is literally the most researched supplement on the market. It’s cheap, and it works. I personally don’t think there is a difference between monohydrate and the Con-Cret that I use. The only real difference is the amount you have to take; Con-Cret allows me to take fewer capsules, which is why I recommend it. Many women find that it loads more efficiently, which leads to less bloating. Here is my article on creatine and my suggestions as to how much and when you should take it.
Follow this link to Amazon.com where you can buy either Con Cret or monohydrate.
How (And Why) I Take These Supplements
There’s a bit of a debate going on about whether or not you should keep your creatine and your caffeine separate. I think it matters, so I usually stop drinking coffee about an hour before I take my creatine.
I make a workout drink before training that looks like this:
- 2 scoops of Vitargo (70 grams carbs)
- 2 scoops of “Recovery” and 1 scoop of “More Muscle” (61 grams of protein)
About 45 minutes before I WOD or lift, I take this in these amounts:
- Progenex Force (BCAA’s and beta-alanine, it tastes like lemonade)
- 3 Capsules of Con Cret
- 1/3 of my workout drink
2/3 of my workout drink
1-2 capsules of Con Cret
I take 3 capsules of Omega Plus with food. I take two scoops of Cocoon before bed with hot water. Its like a non-alcoholic “hot toddy” that knocks you out so you can sleep like a baby.
You can obviously substitute any of these products for your personal preferences, but Progenex and Vitargo are top shelf nutritional supplements and I can’t recommend them more. Again, you get what you pay for so if your health and performance are important, you can’t do much better.
- Good supplements can be a life-saver when you need specific nutrition around your training.
- We recommend Progenex products because they’re great quality and they support what we do. End of story.
- Vitargo is the perfect carbohydrate for athletic performance; nothing else comes close. Two scoops in a blender bottle around training will improve your recovery and help you replete muscle glycogen.
- Progenex “Recovery” and “More Muscle” feature fast-absorbing whey hydrolysates to stimulate protein synthesis and help build/maintain muscle as efficiently as possible.
- Cocoon will literally knock you on your butt and it’s got a slow-digesting protein that’s perfect for bed-time.
- Creatine and beta-alanine (Progenex “Force”) round things out and may provide improved performance during WOD’s so they’re worth looking into as well.