I am often asked about supplements, so let me explain my thoughts on the subject and my reasoning.
Firstly, a supplement of any kind should only be considered if you have a good, clean, healthy and nutritionally-rich diet. You can’t (or shouldn’t) use supplements to counteract too much pizza, chocs and alcohol. But if your diet is good anyway, isn’t nature so designed that it provides all the nutrients naturally?
I don’t take supplements as I think I get what I need from my diet – but I have taken creatine and BCAAs in the past, mainly in the run up to competitions. These are times when I want to be ahead of what nature provides (but doing so as naturally as possible).
Did they make any difference to me? Honestly? I have no idea. I looked good on stage, but was that the supplements or was that the extra effort I was putting in on the nutrition and gym in the last eight weeks prior to the event? No way of knowing.
In any case, I wouldn’t take anything stronger than creatine or BCAAs. Remember we do this thing to get healthier, not less so. I have never tried banned substances – and never will; they have proven detrimental effects on the health of a 20-year old, imagine what they could do to a naturally more fragile body getting on to three times that age.
I do use protein shakes – which I don’t consider a supplement as they have calories and are basic nutrition for me (at breakfast and post-workout). And the calories get counted from the shakes of course.
I also take high-caffeine zero-calorie drinks (sugar-free Monster and similar) 30-45 minutes before a workout as the science says caffeine helps sharpen the brain, stimulates effort and delays fatigue. I find that to be the case with me, and I do get a better workout having taken my Monster than without. But not late at night of course, I also need a good sleep!