What supplements are you taking regularly?

Judging from the responses to our recent supplement survey creatine, protein, BCAAs, beta alanine, caffeine and fish oil all make the greatest hits list. Are these any of these products in your supplement stack?

When I write about a supplement, I’m usually focused on efficacy. Does this product actually do the things you think it does.

This post isn’t about efficacy though. It’s about safety.

Most of us assume the supplements we take are completely safe. In fact one study showed 85% of American’s are confident in the safety of their supplements. As lifters that number is probably even higher since we tend to carry a shaker bottle with us everywhere we go.

What you might not realize is that there really are no safety or testing requirements for supplement companies before marketing and selling products to the public. I mean, the FDA does have the authority to pull products, but this is only exercised when serious adverse effects are present…. you know, like people dying from diet pills sort of thing. Take a look at this awesome video if you want an informative and hilarious look at the “regulation” of the supplement industry.

Now, why do I bring all of this up?

Well, a 2013 study I came across recently, examined 44 supplements from 12 different manufacturers and found that 33% of them contained contaminants and / or fillers that weren’t listed on their label. So, there was a 1-in-3 chance that the supplements contained something they didn’t disclose. Sure, this “something” could be totally benign, but it could also be something you’re allergic to or something you absolutely don’t want to consume. Does anyone here recall the heavy metals in whey protein scare from a while back?

So, maybe you read my post on BCAAs and thought to yourself, “I don’t care if they’re not really effective, I like the taste… what’s the harm in taking them?” Well, the harm may be that they contain shit you don’t know about and that no one is really paying attention to.

I don’t tell you all of this to scare, just to arm you with information to make smarter choices when it comes to your supplementation. I still take supplements. Top lifters take supplements. They are fundamental to optimizing strength and size. You may just want to consider the following when buying and consuming supplements….

  • Make sure there is a solid, research-backed reason for taking each product in your own personal supplement stack.
  • Don’t let price be the primary deciding factor in the products you buy, you usually get what you pay for.
  • Use sites like labdoor.com that provide free reports and independent testing on supplements so you can feel more confident there isn’t garbage lurking in the supplements you buy.

Alright, enough for now. Go forth, supplement intelligently and lift some heavy shit.