Essential Supplements


A Beginner’s Shopping List: Quality Food For The Best Results

5 Essential Supplements For Beginners: It’s Never Been So Easy To Choose! When it comes to supplements, it’s best to stick with those supported by science, both in terms of efficacy and safety. Keeping that in mind, below are the 5 most suitable for beginners. Email More SHARE by Kevin Neeld Apr 23, 2009 Typically, when people begin training for the first time, they are impressively enthusiastic and equally as impatient. They want results and they want them now. This mentality usually leads to the exploration of various supplements, of which there are many. A large number of products to choose from accompanied by an excessive number of so-called experts or spokespeople claiming they have the best product creates a bit of confusion. Unfortunately, most supplements aren’t worth the price of the neon colored bottle they come in. They flat out don’t work. Others may be effective, but aren’t necessary for a beginner, who will improve rapidly without what I’ll call advanced supplementation. In my mind, beginners need to focus on three things, in order of importance: Working hard. Ensuring that you’re using a well-designed training program geared toward your goals. Manipulating your diet to ensure an appropriate nutrient balance, and utilizing supplements to help you achieve this goal. The remainder of this article will focus on the supplementation side of things, but remember – that’s still number 3 on the list. You can supplement yourself to kidney damage and it won’t matter if you don’t have a good program and unparalleled work ethic. When it comes to supplements, it’s best to stick with supplements that are supported by science, both in terms of efficacy and safety. Keeping that in mind, below are the five supplements that are most suitable for beginners. 5 Supplements For Beginners 1. Protein: When it comes to supplements, none have received more attention than adding protein to your diet. Countless studies have been conducted with mixed results regarding improvements in muscular size and strength during short-term resistance training programs. In my mind, it all boils down to a few key points: Additional protein may lead to greater improvements in muscular size and strength. Drinking a rapidly digesting protein source immediately before, during and/or after your training session will help stimulate protein synthesis (read: protein building) and therefore facilitate recovery. Assuming you have a healthy liver and kidney and that you aren’t drastically over consuming poor quality fat sources, a higher protein diet will probably help you shed some fat. Regardless of what the research says (forgive me for temporarily neglecting my scientific background), people that train hard report feeling better while taking a protein supplement. A few other things to consider: Whey protein supplements are rapidly digested, so they enter the blood stream and “get to work” quickly. Casein protein digests more slowly, having a time-release effect. Whey may be a more appropriate choice around your training sessions, whereas casein may be more appropriate throughout the day if you don’t have time to cook and need a quick protein source. Research has shown that consuming the protein supplement BEFORE you train may be slightly better than after. You may want to make a shake and start sipping on it before you train and continue to drink from it during your session. Protein supplements are no replacement for high-quality protein sources from food. Food sources include various minerals that are essential for well-being that you won’t find in a supplement. 2. Greens Quite simply, a quality greens supplement can help minimize the negative effects of a diet lacking in fruits and vegetables. Notice, I didn’t say it could REPLACE fruits and vegetables, only minimize the damage. Academics within the field of nutrition will probably argue that you can get all the vitamins and minerals you need from food. I don’t disagree, but few people do. The rest of us will benefit from having a greens supplement on hand to help pick up the slack. Frankly, I don’t see a downside to taking a daily dose of greens in addition to a diet relatively rich in fruits and vegetables. Some products have undergone multiple scientific studies and seem to be the best bet with regards to this line of supplements. In addition to the added vitamins, this line of supplements will help neutralize your blood pH, which can become more acidic if you’re consuming a large amount of protein.

3. Fish Oils:

The super supplement! I can’t think of a person in the world that shouldn’t be taking a quality fish oil supplement. I was first introduced to fish oils because of their anti-inflammatory effect.

For those of you that pop ibuprofen like candy everyday, you may be surprised at how much better you feel after taking regular doses of fish oil for a few weeks. After a little research, I learned that fish oils have positive benefits on just about everything from cardiovascular disease to various forms of cancer.

They can also aid in fat loss. It’s important that you use a quality supplement though (>50% of the total fish oil is from EPA and DHA), as the lower quality ones can be high in mercury. I go with the liquid fish oils. A good place to start is with 3g of combined EPA and DHA.

4. Carbs/Pre-/Post-Workout:

A rapidly digesting simple carbohydrate source consumed before, during, and/or immediately after your training will facilitate protein synthesis and glycogen resynthesis. Basically this translates into muscle building, energy replenishing, and faster recovery.

Taking in a simple carbohydrate drink is especially important for people training at relatively high volumes and people that are looking to add muscle mass.

5. Creatine:

Creatine has probably undergone more scientific study than any other supplement. There is so much information on creatine that I devoted an entire article summarizing the research on it and addressing some of the misconceptions.

The take home message is creatine supplementation leads to greater improvements in muscular size and strength than training without it. Benefits have been noted for a wide variety of clinical and non-clinical (read: healthy and typically developing) populations.

I received a lot of email criticism for my article on creatine because I didn’t specify whether creatine was appropriate for teenagers or not. While there is apparently a large crowd that thinks creatine supplementation will lead to sudden death if taken by someone under the age of 18, the truth is that there is NO scientific evidence documenting benefits or harmful effects of creatine use on teenagers.

Furthermore, to the best of my knowledge there is no reason to believe that it may be harmful, if taken in the recommended doses. If you have information to the contrary, please send it to me. In the meantime, let’s not be so scientifically stubborn that we ignore the long list of benefits on health and performance that creatine supplementation offers.

With regards to dose, the debate continues on whether loading (25-30g/day for 5-6 days) is necessary or whether 5g/day is sufficient. I don’t have the answer, but creatine is one of the cheapest supplements you can get. If I’m taking in slightly more than I need for a few days and excreting the excess in my urine, I’ll sleep fine knowing I just peed out 1 dollar in wasted supplements that week.

Which Of These Beginner Supplements Do You Find Most Important?

Fish Oils.

Take Home Message

That’s a wrap. Taking these five supplements will help you get the most bang for your training buck. Remember, the first place to invest your money is in a coach that can design a quality program for you and show you how to execute it. Supplements can help you feel energized and allow you to maximize your training potential, but effort is required to create a stimulus worth adapting to. Keep training hard.

About The Author:

Kevin Neeld, CSCS has helped athletes of all ages fulfill their athletic potential. Through the application of functional anatomy, biomechanics, and neural control, Kevin specializes in guiding hockey players to optimal health and performance. To help hockey players and coaches develop their own off-ice programs, Kevin wrote Hockey Training University’s “Off-Ice Performance Training Course,” a must-have resource for every hockey program. For a FREE copy of “Strong Hockey Core Training”, one of the sessions from his course, go to To learn more about how Kevin can help you achieve your training and performance goals, contact him via email at



7 Supplements That Melt Fat

Want to lose more weight without eating less? Add these fat-burning nutrients to your diet and accelerate your weight loss by up to 70 percent

Published: September 19, 2012

Vitamin D
How It Melts Fat: Study after study shows that vitamin D helps to ensure body cells listen and respond to insulin, a hormone secreted from your pancreas. One of its jobs is to help glucose get into body cells, which burn glucose for energy. How well insulin pushes glucose into cells is called “insulin sensitivity.” The more sensitive your cells are to insulin, the better. The less sensitive they are to insulin, the more likely the calories you eat will end up in your fat cells.

When levels of D are low, levels of parathyroid hormone (PTH) rise. Higher than normal levels of PTH trigger a series of reactions that eventually lead to fat cells converting sugar into fat and hoarding fat rather than releasing it to be burned, explains Michael B. Zemel, PhD, director of the Nutrition Institute at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.

A lack of vitamin D may also interfere with leptin, a hormone that signals your brain to stop eating. Your body doesn’t know when it’s full, so you continue to eat.

How It Melts Fat: Calcium is a mineral that works in tandem with D to help you shed fat. Calcium is stored in fat cells, and researchers think that the more calcium a fat cell has, the more fat that cell will release to be burned. Calcium also promotes weight loss by binding to fat in your GI tract, preventing some of it from getting absorbed into your bloodstream.

How It Melt Fat: In addition to keeping hunger in check, eating protein at every meal helps to keep body composition–the amount of fat relative to muscle–in better proportion. Along with calcium and D, protein helps you to preserve muscle mass as you drop pounds. A recent study out of the University of Illinois found that women who consumed protein twice daily lost 3.9 percent more weight than women who consumed less of it on a diet. They not only lost more weight, they also got stronger as they did so, with their thigh muscles alone ending up with 5.8 percent more protein at the end of the diet than before.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids
How They Melt Fat: omega-3s enable weight loss by switching on enzymes that trigger fat-burning in cells. They also help to boost mood, which may help reduce emotional eating. And omega 3s might improve leptin signaling in the brain, causing the brain to turn up fat burning and turn down appetite. Fatty fish like salmon (which are also high in vitamin D) are one of the richest sources of this fat. Other foods, such as some nuts and seeds, contain a type of fat that can be converted into omega-3s after ingestion.

Monounsaturated Fatty Acids (MUFAs)
How They Melt Fat: One Danish study of 26 men and women found that a diet that included 20 percent of its calories from MUFAs, a type of fat found in olive oil, nuts, seeds, avocados, peanut butter, and chocolate, improved 24-hour calorie burning by 0.1 percent and fat burning by 0.04 percent after 6 months. Other research shows that MUFAs zero in on belly fat. Specific foods that are high in MUFAs–especially peanuts, tree nuts, and olive oil–have been shown to keep blood sugar steady and reduce appetite, too.

Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA)
How It Burns Fat: CLAs are potent fat burners that are found, along with D and calcium, in dairy products. They are fatty acids that are created when bacteria ferments the food in the first part of the stomach of cows, sheep, and other ruminant animals. The CLA that is created through fermentation then makes its way into the meat and milk of these animals.

When we consume these foods, the CLA helps blood glucose enter body cells, so CLA can be burned for energy and not stored as fat. CLA also helps to promote fat burning, especially in muscles, where the bulk of our calorie burning takes place.

Note: There’s a downside to this fat melter. Most of these studies involving CLA were performed using huge amounts of CLA–amounts that you’d only be able to consume if you ate 40 pounds of beef at once. (We don’t know about you, but we certainly can’t eat 40 pounds of beef for dinner.) While you might not be able to consume enough of it through food alone to melt off a huge amount of fat, but you can consume enough of it to help nudge your metabolism into a fat-burning state. And when you add it to the other fat melters–especially the D, calcium, and protein–you will create the perfect environment for total-body fat burning.

How They Melt Fat: Polyphenols are the antioxidants that give green tea its health-and metabolism-boosting punch. Research shows they boost resting metabolic rate by up to a whopping 17 percent, helping the body to burn more fat. One recent study done on rats found that EGCG, the polyphenol in green tea, blocked weight gain and prevented metabolic syndrome when rats were fed a high-fat diet. You can actually feel this effect after you drink the tea. Your body will literally heat up as your cells waste calories as heat. Green tea is a great winter elixir for that reason. Drink a cup whenever you feel chilled and are tempted to eat even though you are not really that hungry. The tea will warm and soothe you, reducing hunger and cravings.