It’s important to remember that supplements aren’t a replacement for poor diet and you should aim to get as much of what your body needs from quality foods. However, training does increase the demands on your body and it’s not always easy to ensure you’re getting everything you need, particularly as you age. Therefore, supplements can be helpful to support training, a busy career and personal life.
For most major supplements there is at least some research available with a quick Google search, so it won’t be covered in detail here. This is just The Lean Exec take on supplements and what seems to work well. Chances are, some, if not all of it will work for you.
Note: This is not professional or medical advice (and certainly not bespoke), you should consult your Doctor before changing your diet or trying supplements. It’s also worth doing some of your own research before spending your hard earned cash on supps.
The Lean Exec Supplements (in a sort of order of priority):
What is it?
You will likely know something about Multivitamins already, but essentially they are dietary supplements containing a range of micronutrients that the body needs daily. Most of the key multivitamin products include a list of vitamins like the ones listed below:
|Typical Values Per Daily Dose / (% NRV*)|
|Vitamin C||500 mg (625%)|
|Thiamin (Vitamin B1)||13 mg (1182%)|
|Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)||15 mg (1071%)|
|Niacin||50 mg NE (313%)|
|Vitamin B6||10 mg (714%)|
|Folic Acid||400 µg (200%)|
|Vitamin B12||10 µg (400%)|
|Biotin||150 µg (300%)|
|Pantothenic Acid||25 mg (417%)|
|Calcium||120 mg (15%)|
|Magnesium||100 mg (27%)|
|Zinc||10 mg (100%)|
|*NRV means Nutrient Reference Value|
Quite simply to ensure you are getting what your body needs. The reality is most of the vitamins will leave your body as a number 1, but the older you get the more susceptible you are to muscle cramps, injuries, fatigue, etc. so better to top up and ensure you have appropriate vitamins than risk missing something vital. This has worked well for Bigger Brother and once you are “topped up” you can reduce to half a tablet a day and sometimes skip a day so you’re not constantly taking them.
There are lots of options out there. Bigger Brother likes the tablets that fizz. Often touted as energy boosters. Berocca Energy Vitamin Tablets are a well known one in the UK and Centrum do a range. However, the Boots or Superdrug equivalent (apologies to readers outside the UK) which come in flavours like Mango, Orange and Berry will also do the trick!
What is it?
Whey is essentially a by product of the cheese making process. Outside of products that promote its inclusion. It’s often found in products that are readily available in the supermarket such as Ricotta cheese, milk, and tinned rice pudding.
For whey protein supplements they use the whey liquid which remains after dairy like milk and cheese have been curdled and strained to produced into a powder. It’s high in protein and branch chain amino acids, plus it’s digested quickly, making it a good way to get protein into the body fast after a hard workout.
Generally, unless you have a dairy allergy, research has deemed it to be safe as a reasonably consumed supplement (you can find more info here). The key word here being supplement. It should support, not replace a quality diet.
The reality is, eating 5 or 6 meals a day in appropriate portion with the correct MACRO nutrients your body needs can be a challenge. In particular, trying to get the appropriate amount of protein is much harder than getting the relevant carbs and fats your body needs, particularly if you are a larger individual engaged in regular intense exercise.
The key point here is, it’s easier to top up the protein you need for intense exercise through whey protein supplements. Particularly as it’s boring and time consuming to eat big portions of protein from sources of meat 5-6 times a day. In addition, whey protein is assimilated fast, so you can get the protein hit quickly which is very useful post-exercise.
Other Protein Supplements:
These days there are lots of forms of protein supplements available so if you have dairy allergies or don’t eat dairy for any reason there are other options available like Pea, Soy, Brown Rice protein, etc. Although the challenge is these protein sources are not as complete, so may need to be supported with other food or supplementation.
It’s also worth noting Casein Protein which is another protein derived from dairy production. This protein is also rich in essential amino acids. In terms of supplementation it’s main difference to whey is that it’s a slow digesting protein and usually has less protein per gram (particularly in comparison to whey isolate). For this reason it’s often used as a supplement before bed, as it essentially drip feeds protein to your body which is seen as useful for maintaining and growing muscle mass in a fasted state (ie. when sleeping).
This one needs no introduction. Coffee is possibly the most widely used legal drug in the world. Consumed moderately it’s safe and some research suggests it’s beneficial for energy levels, burning fat, minimizing risk of Alzheimer’s, dementia, type 2 diabetes and potentially protecting your liver (amongst other things). The downside is too much coffee can have a negative impact, in particular affecting quality of sleep.
Why is it included here? Well, because it’s a natural form of caffeine and can be an excellent kick start for training if consumed roughly 30-45 mins before a session. This makes it a great “natural” pre-workout supp. 🙂
Other Training Specific Supplements:
There are lots of different supplements on the market with varying degrees of research. Below are some popular supplements that are generally deemed to be safe, research suggests they are beneficial to training and The Lean Exec team finds them to be beneficial when used correctly.
Others The Lean Exec and team have tried, but find them to be of less obvious benefit:
- Cod Liver Oil – maybe most useful for people who don’t eat much oily fish or generally lacking Omega 3 in their diet.
- Glutamine – An amino acid which is a building block of protein, is critical to the immune system and helps with intestinal health. It’s naturally found in foods and produced by the body.
- HMB – HMB is a metabolite of the amino acid leucine. It’s naturally produced in the body and is considered to potentially help increase strength and muscle mass. Although it would appear more research is needed.
- ZMA – ZMA is a natural mineral supplement made up of zinc, magnesium aspartate, and vitamin B6. It is believed to support the body’s immune system and muscles. Magnesium plays a role in metabolism and muscle health and helps manage sleep. B6 may also boost energy. It’s widely used by athletes, gymnasts and bodybuilders.
For info, we’re planning to create an exact approach to TLE supplements, including exact quantity and timing at some point to make available on the site asap.