Before each workout, I usually take a cocktail of supplements, along with lots of water, each chemical serving a purpose. I have listed them below. I want to make known that these are, of course, legal supplements, because I would never use drugs, illegal or legal, to get a better workout (kind of defeats the purpose, doesn’t it?). I freely admit that some of these nutrients and their benefits remain unproven, in that the research behind them is based on smaller human studies, and studies on animals. I also admit I might seem a little nuts for taking all of these, but here goes. Note that I have researched these carefully, and I am not taking any prescription drugs that may interact with these supplements. Always consult with a doctor before starting any supplement regimen.
Green Tea – Right now, I take a Green-Tea, Alpha-Lipoic Acid supplement that I got at a dollar store on clearance. I will switch to Puritan’s Pride Green Tea Extract capsules after that runs out (and possibly take Puritan’s Pride Alpha-Lipoic Acid, 100 mg, with it). Green Tea has been shown in studies to increase the effectiveness (calories burned) of a workout. I don’t care for its taste, but drinking a few glasses prior to working out would likely be effective too. Green Tea contains caffeine, so if you experience any side effects of caffeine consumption, like rapid heartbeat, etc, stop exercising. Cut your green tea dose next time.
Vitamin C – Vitamin C has been shown to reduce inflammatory stress on the body during exercise. I am not sure if this is due to its antioxidant status or not, but regardless I am covered. I take 250 mg prior to a workout. I read somewhere that one study showed that taking 1000 mg or more may actually reverse the vitamin’s effect on workouts, so it is prudent to stick with around 250-500 mg. I currently take Healthy America‘s Vitamin C 500 mg tablets, split into two.
Movenzyme [Wobenzym] – This is a generic version of Wobenzym, a popular enzyme supplement overseas. It is available in the U.S. too. Unfortunately, Movenzyme is no longer made. UPDATE: A similar product (for a decent price) called Proteolytic Enzymes is available now, which I take. Wobenzym contains protein-digesting enzymes, which when taken on an empty stomach, do not digest food, but act as potent anti-inflammation agents. Studies have shown that enzymes taken this way have benefited arthritis sufferers, helped those with athletic injuries recover more quickly, and exhibited a very powerful anti-metastatic effect in rats with cancer (the last when taken rectally…eww…but it works). All of these formulas contains the enzymes Pancreatin, Bromelain, Trypsin, Chymotrypsin, and Papain. Enzymes may have a mild blood-thinning effect, so as with all supplements, consult with your doctor before using.
Bromelain – Bromelain is a mix of protein digesting enzymes contained in pineapple, particularly the root. I take it prior to a workout for the same reasons listed above, for the lessening of inflammation and related athletic injuries (studies show that the enzyme effect is the strongest when taken prior to an injury). I take Now Foods, 500 mg of 2000 GDU Bromelain. I buy it from Vitaglo for a good price. “GDU,” gelatin digesting units, is a unit of Bromelain’s strength. Most experts recommend a higher GDU, which basically means that 1 mg of 2000 GDU Bromelain will digest twice as much protein as 1000 GDU Bromelain.
Pancreatin – Pancreatin is basically hog or beef pancreas extract. It sounds kind of gross, but believe it or not, the pancreas of an animal is not only edible, but considered a delicacy by some (it is often called “sweetbread”). I take Puritan’s Pride Pancreatin 1400 mg. You may wonder why I take all these enzymes. Well, studies show that to have the desired effect, you have to take quite a few, since the absorption rate of enzymes into the bloodstream is relatively low (the anti-cancer effect in the rat study linked above was 45 mg of protein digesting enzymes for every kg of body weight).
Rutin – Rutin is a sugar, and is found in the rinds of citrus fruits. It exhibits an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effect, and is a source of Quercetin, one of the two nutrients (along with Resveratrol) that Drs. Oz and Roizen mention as having strong anti-aging possibilities because of their relationship with sirtuin. Rutin contains Quercetin, in that Rutin is a complex sugar consisting of Quercetin and Rutinose. I currently take 50 mg of Rutin before working out, from Puritan’s Pride, although it looks like they only sell the 500 mg tablets now (Rutin is dirt cheap, and I can split the tablets into fourths).
Acetyl L-Carnitine or DMAE– ALC is a form of the amino acid Carnitine, and is thought to help improve memory and enhance brain function. DMAE, found naturally in Salmon, is supposed to have similar effects, so I tend to take a half dose of one or the other before working out. A lot of people (including myself) notice an enhancement of vision, perception, and mental stamina after taking one of these supplements, usually about 30-40 minutes after taking it. I currently take 150 mg of ALC or 50 mg of DMAE (from Puritan’s Pride) before a workout, although to avoid any possible side-effects, I don’t take them together. I am not implying these nutrients are unsafe, but I play it safe with unproven substances. To take the half-doses that I do, I have to break open a capsule and empty half of the powder in a large spoon, and then reseal the capsule. I drip in a little water, let the chemicals dissolve slightly, and then its bottom’s up! ALC tastes sweet, and DMAE tastes awful. Acetyl L-Carnitine and DMAE can make a person jumpy, and if you get a rapid heart bear, etc, you should stop exercising, and cut back next time. Same for DMAE. Because of the mild mental effects, I wouldn’t take it near bedtime. Personally, I wouldn’t take more than the doses I listed at once.
Whew…Okay, that’s about it. I should note that for the enzymes to be effective you have to have an empty stomach when you take them. This means you must wait 2-3 hours after your last meal. I have tried to list the places I have found with the best prices, since supplements are often overpriced if you don’t buy them from the right places.