The best way to get the most benefits out of your supplements is by strategically stacking them together. In this blog post we will introduce you to stacking and give you some tips that will help you make better decisions when choosing your supplements. A stack is a group of supplements used together to enhance overall performance. This may include pre-workout products, intra-workout products, and post-workout products.
Pre-workout products are used to provide a boost of energy needed to workout. These types of products often have stimulants, such as caffeine. Many of them also contain creatine, which is believed to help increase strength and improve muscle gain when used for fueling resistance training.
Intra-workout products are used during workouts to help increase your exercise capacity and increase your body’s use of fat for energy. The main ingredient in most intra-workout products is usually branched-chain amino acids.
Post-workouts are used to refuel your body after you work out and to promote muscle growth and recovery. Most post-workout products contain carbohydrates and protein, which is found to help enhance muscle growth.
There are a lot of things to consider when putting together your own supplement stack. Some people can make it more difficult than it has to be. You can’t expect the stack to help you achieve all of your goals at once; instead you use them to help fill gaps in your diet and nutrition.
When making the following recommendations I’m going to assume that you…
- Are 18 or older
- Have already checked with your primary physician and are aware of any pre-existing condition that may limit what supplements you can take.
- Are smart enough to always read product warning labels before you begin taking a product.
Supplements Cannot Replace a Good Diet
While supplements can be A PART of a healthy diet, all the supplements in the world cannot fully replace a healthy diet. Most trainers will either tell you “you are what you eat” or that results come once you put in 100% “80% Diet, 20% Exercise”. At the end of the day they both stress the importance of a healthy diet. When you’re going into bodybuilding your physique will reflect your diet. So if you’re eating “bad” food, prepare to look in the mirror and be unsatisfied with your results. A bad diet can lead to an increase in body fat, lethargy, bad skin, and even serious health issues, such as diabetes, heart problems, and high cholesterol.
In order to gain muscle you must consume more calories than you burn. When trying to lose body fat you must consume less calories than you burn. Sounds simple enough, but unfortunately, most people are not disciplined enough to properly plan or track their diets. If you’re serious about embarking on a new exercise and nutrition program, you should keep a daily food diary to ensure you’re consuming the right amount of calories, carbs, protein, and fat.
Always Read Warning Labels
If done properly, stacking supplements is very effective. However, when done haphazardly it can actually be dangerous. That is why you should ALWAYS read warning labels.
There’s a good reason these warning labels are always on supplement bottles. Too much of ANYTHING can be bad for you, including Vitamin A and C, Caffeine, Chromium, Iron, etc. Consuming too much of any of these can actually cause some adverse effects. If you consume too much Vitamin C, for example, you may end up with diarrhea or nausea. It’s hard to go lift weights at the gym when you’re dehydrated and stuck in a bathroom for the day. Females and anyone who is under the age of 21 should avoid prohormones entirely.
When choosing supplements for your stack make sure you’re not taking too many supplements that include the same ingredients. More isn’t always better, sometimes it’s just more. What you want to do is choose supplements that will complement one another and increase the effectiveness of your other supplements.
Stacking Based on Your Goals
Lean Mass Stacking
The key to lean mass stacking is recovery and priming the anabolic environment. You’ll need to consume enough protein, nutrient, and calories to allow promote muscle growth. Creatine can often be used to help with muscle recovery and increase in blood flow. Consuming a balanced blend of carbs and protein before and after you workout will give you the energy you need to work out and will help you speed up your recovery process.
Fat Loss Stacking
The goal of fat loss stacking is to reduce body fat levels. Muscle actually helps burn calories, which is why it’s important that you burn fat while still keeping your muscles.
Thermogenics are often used to help promote an increase the metabolic rate. Using a high-quality protein will ensure that you can keep your muscles from being used up as fuel for your workout. Good complex carbohydrates will ensure that your energy levels are high and helps prevent big insulin spikes that would otherwise cause the body to store more fat.
Basic Health Stack
The goals of a basic health stack may vary. Getting all of the vitamins necessary to keep recovery optimum entirely from food can be difficult. Some individuals may even have certain issues that need additional attention, such as joint problems. Men and women have different needs and specific body functions that need added support. This is why it’s important that they consider their needs when building their stack.
As you go through your bodybuilding/fitness journey your needs may change. It’s important to use supplements to fill any gaps in your diet. Remember that supplements do not REPLACE a healthy diet, they simply ADD to it. You should also be consuming a good amount of water daily to stay hydrated. A dehydrated muscle can often lead to a muscle tear. Be sure that you consult your personal physician before starting a new diet and/or workout plan. And most importantly, remember that moderation is key!
Note to Readers:
Pay close attention to the caffeine in your supplements! Do not accidentally double up. Consuming too much caffeine can be detrimental to your body, so limit your intake and monitor what supplements you’re taking very closely.