Welcome back to our special two-part series, “Lowdown on Supplements”! In this episode, we'll continue exploring the fascinating world of supplements, focusing on the most commonly asked-about ones. Get ready to uncover the benefits, uses, and potential side effects of these popular supplements. By the end of this episode, you'll walk away with a wealth of knowledge that will help you make informed decisions about which supplements are truly worth your hard-earned money. So, without further ado, let's dive right in and unlock the secrets of these powerful health enhancers!
Find show notes at bicepsafterbabies.com/286
- Protein and Amino Acids 08:42
- L-citrulline Supplement Benefits 11:02
- Beta-Alanine Supplement Benefits, Uses and Side Effects 13:34
- Branded Chain Amino Acids aka BCAA 19:15
- Collagen Supplements 28:25
- Fish Oil Supplements 34:02
- Vitamin D Supplements 38:30
- All about Probiotics 42:28
- Multivitamins 45:07
- Greens as Supplements 48:08
- Fat Burners 50:04
- Supplements for Pregnant and Breastfeeding moms 51:20
You're listening to Biceps After Babies Radio Episode 286.
Hello and welcome to Biceps After Babies Radio. A podcast for ladies who know that fitness is about so much more than pounds lost or PR's. It's about feeling confident in your skin and empowered in your life. I'm your host Amber Brueseke, a registered nurse, personal trainer, wife and mom of four. Each week my guests and I will excite and motivate you to take action in your own personal fitness as we talk about nutrition, exercise, mindset, personal development and executing life with conscious intention. If your goal is to look, feel and be strong and experience transformation from the inside out, you my friend are in the right place. Thank you for tuning in. Now, let's jump into today's episode.
Hey, hey, hey. Welcome back to another episode of Biceps After Babies Radio. I'm your host, Amber Brueseke, and this is episode two of a two-part series all about supplements. So if you didn't listen to last week's episode, I recommend going back and listening to it. I talk in that episode about how to be a little bit better and understand reading research so that you can be a little bit more knowledgeable in that sphere and not just have to trust what somebody is saying on social media but actually be able to go and back it up with reading the research. I also talked about the lack of FDA oversight when it comes to supplements and understanding that when you're getting ready to spend your money on supplements and how to check and use third party testing to be able to do as much verification as you can before you're spending your money on a supplement. And then I also talked about the big three, these are the three supplements that everybody agrees, the research fully supports are effective, they do something, and if you're going to spend your money on any supplements, these are the three that I recommend, and that is protein powder, specifically a whey protein powder if you're looking to build muscle, caffeine and creatine. So again, those, nobody's disputing that research after research after research shows that those are effective, they produce a result, and those should be the three that you spend your money on first, because they work.
So, today I'm going to spend a little bit more time on some of the other supplements that are common in the industry that you'll hear people talk about, that you'll hear touted, that you'll maybe be tried to sold to you. And I want you to feel a little bit more comfortable at least hearing these words, hearing these names so that as you're reading through brands, as you're reading through what supplements you want to take, that you feel a little bit more confident in making those decisions. So that's what we're going to do this a little bit more rapid fire. I'm just going to introduce a supplement that's common that you may have heard about, and then we'll talk about the pros and cons of it and kind of give a recommendation as to if it's something that you should really consider or if it's something that you should save your money on.
Before I do that, I'm talking about a lot of supplements in these two episodes, and so to make it as easy as possible for you to remember these things and to have a guide as you're going out and making decisions about supplements, we put together a free guide that basically encapsulates the last two episodes in a PDF. So if you would like that, you can go to bicepsafterbabies.com/286. That's just the show notes for this podcast episode, and there will be a link on that page that will allow you to download that or you can go to bicepsafterbabies.com/supplements and that'll just put your name and e-mail in and we'll e-mail you that free PDF. That again is basically to take these two episodes and put it into a PDF for your easy reference.
And then last disclaimer before I dive into talking about supplements, I talked about this on the last episode, but it's really important for you to know that I am an affiliate for Legion Athletics. This is the supplement company that I have used since 2017. I recommend to my clients and they do a great job of more so than a lot of supplement companies are being very transparent with what is in their supplements. And if you heard last episode, you know that I said a lot of supplement companies will hide their supplement breakdown dosages, and even sometimes the actual ingredients under a “proprietary blend”. And this is shady business. It's a way often for them to save money and underdose things, and that's a big problem in the industry, underdosing, not being transparent, and even some supplement companies will put like fillers into their supplements and they won't actually include the active ingredients. I mean, there's some shady crap that's done in the supplement industry, which is why third party testing is so important and transparency is so important. And so that's something that's really big with Legion and as somebody who isn't based in science wants to make sure that what I'm taking and putting into my body is what they say on the label. That's something that I really, really, highly prioritize when I'm looking for a supplement. And that's one of the biggest reasons that I recommend Legion, plus their stuff just tastes really good. I actually wrote an Instagram post that posted last week. We did a giveaway of Legion product and I told this funny story that so I found Legion back in 2017 when I was getting more into. I was making the transition from a group fitness into more of a bodybuilding style and then I got into power lifting. And I'm starting to look into supplements and researching supplements and trying to figure out which I was going to take. And I tried Pulse, which is Legion’s pre workout, and I loved it. I tried a bunch of other pre workouts and a lot of them made me jittery or I felt like I had a big spike but then it crash, beta alanine which we'll talk about today, can make you feel a little like pins and needles and I didn't get that from this pre workout, so I just, I really liked it and I started using that in 2017 and so that was the first product that I used for theirs.
Legion’s Protein Powder 06:03
So then they I think they had just come out with a protein powder or at least I decided to try their protein powder and so I bought one bag a tub, it was a tub at that time but, one tub of their protein powder and it was not good. It was not good. It was chalky, like the taste was not it. One of the things is that they are all natural and they have no artificial sweeteners or ingredients. And you know how, like, there's just some foods that like, taste like they are all natural and have no artificial sweeteners and ingredients. And you're like, yeah, this is not it. It like, doesn't taste good. That was their protein powder. And so I tried it. I was like, this is not good. I really like their pre-workout. I do not like their protein powder and so I went and found another supplement company that had a much better tasting protein powder and I preferred that for a long time. Until they went under and I was like crap, I gotta like, people come to me all the time asking for my recommendations specifically for protein powder. But for, you know, supplements in general, and I want to have something that I can stand behind and promote. And so I spent the next year really trying out a bunch of products, trying out a bunch of brands and kind of seeing which one I liked and that I was able to see behind and because I believe in second chances, I tried the Legion’s protein powder again. So now it's 20, you know, 2022 and boy, have they worked on their formula, so good for them. Good for them for working on their formula. It is way better now. It's not chalky. It dissolves really, really nicely. It's really smooth and their flavors are delicious like, it doesn't taste, “like some all natural”, no artificial sweeteners or ingredients, products taste, it just tastes good, right. It just tastes delicious. And so, I'm glad that they upped their game. I'm glad that they put some money into revamping their formula and testing it and trying it and getting feedback and making it a lot better because I will tell you 2023 Legion protein powder is way better than 2017 Legion protein powder. So good for them. So, I tried their protein powder and loved it and loved everything about the brand and everything they stood behind. So, I am an affiliate for Legion and I think it's important to share with you under the guise of full disclosure, so if you want to save on your Legion purchase, you want to go and purchase any supplements or whey protein from them, you can use my code BAB, Biceps After Babies, stands for Biceps After Babies. So B-A-B is the code that will save you 20% off of your first order and then you get double points after that, so they give you like cash back on your orders that you can apply to other orders. So, if you use my code, you'll get 20% off your first order and then double the cash back points after that.
Protein and Amino Acids 08:42
OK, with that out of the way, let's dive into the supplements, now before I start talking about supplements, I do want to do just a little bit of education on protein and amino acids. I mentioned this last week when we talked about protein powder, but protein when we say the word protein that is the larger molecule structure and it is made-up of amino acids and there are different types of amino acids. There's actually 20 different types of amino acids, and how those amino acids are formulated and put together makes up the protein. And you may hear essential versus non-essential amino acids and it's important to understand the difference. Our bodies are able to produce or generate certain amino acids, and our body cannot generate other amino acids. There are actually 9 amino acids that our body cannot synthesize, it cannot make on its own. It means we must ingest those amino acids to get access to them. So, we call those essential amino acids because they're essential for us to consume in our diet. If on the non-essential amino acids, if we don't have enough of those amino acids and our body needs it, we can actually synthesize it, which is super cool, right? Our bodies are super cool. But then there's these nine amino acids that are essential. So, these essential amino acids are often ones that you will see placed in two supplements, because again, your body cannot synthesize them, and so sometimes people will supplement with them. So, I just want to list those nine amino acids so that you're just kind of familiar and you've heard that term before, so that if you see it on a supplement, you'll know, Oh, that's an essential amino acid, like, that's why they're putting this in here. Those nine essential amino acids are 1) Histidine 2) Isoleucine, 3) Leucine, 4) Lysine, 5) Methionine, 6) Phenylalanine, 7) Threonine, 8) Tryptophan, and 9) Valine. Now three of those are what we call the BCAA, or the Branched Chain Amino Acids, and we'll talk about this more in depth a little bit later, but I just want to highlight them here. Those are Isoleucine, Leucine and Valine. And so, when you hear about BCAA is the branched chain amino acids you can, they're just three of the nine essential amino acids.
L-citrulline Supplement Benefits 11:02
OK, so I first want to start with a couple of the ingredients that are more common in a pre-workout supplement. So, last week I talked about caffeine and how caffeine is a stimulant and it gives you an energy boost and it really helps you push harder in the gym, improves your workout performance and thus the results that you get. So, again, caffeine is, everybody agrees that caffeine has a performance, is a performance enhancer. And a lot of, most pre workout substance or supplements, if you're taking a, they have non stem pre workouts, so the non stem are non stimulant and so they usually don't include caffeine. But every other pre workout, if it's not a non stem, mostly includes caffeine, because it is super beneficial. But most pre workouts aren't just caffeine, they have other ingredients that are supposedly, supposed to help with performance. So, one of those is L-citrulline. So, L-citrulline, you didn't hear that in the essential amino acid list, but it's one of those non -essential amino acids that again can be created by the body. It can also be obtained by dietary sources, so those foods include watermelon. Watermelons actually has a high source of L-citrulline, cucumbers, legumes, meat and nuts. And you'll usually hear L-citrulline put into pre workouts either in the L-citrulline or the citrulline malate form and there is some evidence that supports that L-citrulline has some health benefits, but more has been studied with the athletic and performance benefits. So, what else L-citrulline does is it boosts your body blood flow and it boosts protein synthesis. And if you're boosting protein synthesis, that's helpful in building muscles. So, the idea is that L-citrulline increases blood flow. The blood flow helps to increase that protein synthesis, which is going to in turn help you to build more muscle. There is some evidence that it also helps with recovery, which means that again, you can push harder in the gym, you can go longer in the gym and then your body is assisted with that recovery process, probably because of that blood flow. But you know, we don't really know exactly, but that's what has been observed in some studies. So L-citrulline is actually a pretty common supplement. Again, that you know, most people don't take it separately, but if you take a pre workout, I would go and look at your pre workout and see does it have L-citrulline in it. If so, that's the reason why.
Beta Alanine Supplement Benefits, Uses and Side Effects 13:34
Another very common supplement that I would say is in like most pre workouts is beta alanine, so again beta alanine is another non-essential amino acid that can be produced by our body but it helps to aid in the production of carnosine, and carnosine essentially allows our muscles to go longer and harder before becoming fatigued. So, it's like an anti-fatigue amino acid and it's thought that the way that beta alanine works is by reducing the lactic acid buildup. So there's a theory that part of the reason that we get sore, part of the reason that our muscles stop being able to contract and work quite as hard and efficiently is because as they're working, they are generating the byproduct of lactic acid and that lactic acid is thought to build up into the muscle and prevent continued exertion and continued contraction. And so the idea is that beta alanine helps produce carnosine and carnosine goes basically goes into the muscle and reduces that lactic active build up, lactic acid buildup which theoretically is supposed to help you to work longer and harder before you hit that, hit that roadblock right, hit that roadblock of like, I can't do this anymore, I'm too tired, I'm too fatigued, my muscles aren’t contracting the way that they should be able to. There's quite a bit of research that supports these positive effects that beta alanine has on your muscles. And so again, this is a very, very common ingredient in most pre workouts is beta alanine.
Now, for those of you who take, have taken a pre workout before and you felt like super tingly like pins and needles or like, super tingly all over your body, that is usually you reacting to beta alanine, that's the ingredient that typically makes people feel that way. So that's helpful to know because some people really don't like that feeling. They don't like the pins and needles feeling. And then you can go, Hey, that's beta alanine. That's me reacting to beta alanine. Maybe I can try a smaller dose of the pre workout. Or maybe I need to try to find one that doesn't have beta alanine in it or under doses on beta alanine. Beta alanine is actually a little bit more expensive of a supplement, so honestly a lot of stuff like pre workout supplements were under dose on beta alanine, because the recommended the research supported dose is between 4 and 6 grams of beta alanine. But again, it's more expensive so some supplement companies will underdose on beta alanine. So again knowing that that's what is causing those pins and needles, or that tingly feeling can allow you to as a consumer, be a little bit more educated as you're making your decision about which pre workouts try. My recommendation with any pre workout that you take is always start low on the dosage. So, if a full scoop is a full serving, I would start with like 1/3 of a scoop or half of a scoop and see how you tolerate it. See how your body feels the worst feeling in the world is taking like, starting a brand new pre workout and taking like a full dose and having it hit you like a mack truck and your heart rates going high and you feel all these pins and needles and you just feel like you want to explode and you want to die. I've never actually had that experience, but I've had a friend who had that experience and it's like she still talks about it, like how terrible that experience was. So don't do that, like titrate it up, see how you tolerate. See how you feel. See how you like it. Then you can always add, you know, a bigger scoop next time around, but don't, don't make that rookie mistake of like going balls to the walls the first time you try to pre workout because you just don't know your body is going to respond to it and how you're going to feel with it. And everybody's a little bit different when it comes to pre workouts and how you respond to pre workouts. So keep that in mind as well.
Other very common ingredients in pre workout is obviously caffeine and again how you respond to caffeine and how much caffeine you need is very, very individual. Some people are super sensitive to caffeine. Some people can't have caffeine. Some people like 100 milligrams of caffeine and they're like wired. And some people don't feel the effects until they hit 200 or 300 milligrams of caffeine. And then you also can build a tolerance to caffeine, so people’s caffeine tolerance is very, very different, so understanding and figuring out your body and your tolerance to caffeine can be really important and then a lot of pre workouts will have creatine in them as well. So if you're taking a pre workout, go just go check and see what's in the pre workout that you're taking. If it does have creatine, then you don't need to supplement with other creatine, if it doesn't, maybe you want to consider adding creatine to it. The way that Legion does their pre workout, their pre workout doesn't actually have creatine in it. They have it in their post workout. So the pre workout is called Pulse and it does not contain creatine, it has beta alanine. It has the L-citrulline and it has caffeine and some other ingredients. They put their creatine in their post workout, so that's where creatine is at in Legion’s products. Then you may have some other like B vitamins or you have, may have some nitrates in your pre-workout. These are usually in smaller doses. There's less research to really fully back these up, but a lot of supplement companies will put some other stuff in that. In some studies, has been shown to be effective and so why not throw it in? You know, it may be helpful, but I would say that L-citrulline, beta alanine, creatine, and caffeine are probably the biggest parts of the supplement that are well researched and tend to do something and then enhance and improve performance in the gym.
Branded Chain Amino Acids aka BCAA 19:15
OK, so let's talk BCAAs. As I mentioned, there are three BCAAs. BCAA stands for, or as my mom, I love my mom, shout out to my mom. My mom calls these ba-cas. She's like, I love my ba-cas like, mom nobody calls them ba-cas. They're BCAAs. So BCAAs. But they kind of look like, ba-ca if you like, right out there anyway, whatever. She's hilarious, I love her. But the three BCAAs are leucine, isoleucine, and valine, and again, these are branched chain amino acids, so that is the molecule structure. They have these like branched chains. I don't know how much you remember chemistry, but you can have like these straight molecules. You can have these molecules with branches off of them, and so when you look at the molecular makeup of isoleucine, leucine and valine, they have these like branched chains. Hence, they're called the branched chain amino acids. And the reason that these three are often put in supplements or you'll hear them touted is because they really are the amino acids that help drive protein synthesis, and specifically like building of muscle, specifically, leucine. Leucine is like the one amino acid that we've really been able to identify that really helps to drive building of muscle. So, leucine is the big one that we see connected with muscle and connected with performance. So OK, so then we know that these three amino acids help in building muscle. And so then we make the leap in logic that says, well, if these three amino acids are important for building muscle, then taking them in a supplement basis will be awesome, will help us build more muscle, but as you'll see with a lot of several other supplements, we'll talk about a little bit later, sometimes that doesn't play out. Actually, in the research where eating something or ingesting it in a food form does one thing with our body. And trying to supplement it or generate it or put it in supplement form doesn't actually produce the same result. And so, there's a lot of mixed research on supplementation of BCAAs and if they actually do anything, if they're any better than just simply eating, branched chain amino acids. Again, these are essential, so our body can't make them. But if you're eating any complete protein, which is a good term to define as well, for those of you who are listening, a complete protein, you'll hear people talk about this. A complete protein is one that contains all nine of those essential amino acids. So, it at least has all nine of the essential amino acid we call it complete because it means you have now access to all the amino acids that your body cannot make in this one food source. So that's what a complete amino acid is. So if you're eating complete amino acids, anything that comes from an animal, any dairy product, any meat product, those are all going to be complete amino acids.
There are some vegan and vegetarian options that are complete amino acid. Soy is one that comes top of mind. Soy is a complete amino acid. However, many of the vegetarian and vegan options are incomplete. I mean, yeah, they don't, they're incomplete proteins. So an example of that would be beans. Beans contain amino acids, but it doesn't contain all of the essential amino acids thus it is an incomplete protein. People get really confused and really up in arms about incomplete proteins. And do they actually count and should I track them and especially cause we'll talk about collagen next. This is the question, does my collagen “count”? Should I track my collagen? Because collagen, you guessed it, is an incomplete protein and I always turn the question back on to people. And I say, hey, do you ever ask this question about beans like, I've never had anybody come to me and say Amber, do my beans count? Do my legumes count? Should I track my beans? No, we don't. We don't ask that question like, even though they're an incomplete amino acid. So the answer is yes. Track them, they do “count”. We just understand that we need to eat a wide, either eat a wide variety of protein sources or make sure that we're consuming some during the day that are complete proteins, that are, have all the essential amino acids. But yes, they count, yes, you track them and there's plenty of sources that you eat especially again when we go to plant sources. I'm pretty sure all animal sources are complete proteins, but many of this, the plant sources are incomplete proteins, so this is also where you'll hear people talk about complementary foods. So, beans are an incomplete protein source. Rice is an incomplete protein source, but when you pair them together, the two the amino acids that are in the two, now you have a complete protein because between the two items, they have the missing amino acids from each other and so we, it forms a complete protein. So if you eat your beans with your rice now you're getting a complete protein. So if you are vegan or vegetarian, understanding that is really important because you just want to make sure that you're getting access to all of those essential amino acids.
BCAAs’ claim to fame 24:32
OK, So what are BCAAs’ claim to fame? BCAAs’ claim to fame is that they decrease muscle soreness, that is what people will tout when it comes to why we should supplement with BCAAs. However, we talked about randomized controlled trials in last week's episode. I talked about that with my husband. The RCT's of BCAA supplementation are not clear. There's some that will say yes, there is an impact or an effect. There's plenty of them that say no, there isn't any impact or effect, and so it's just, it's, there's not a clear consensus with the research that supplementation of BCAAs does anything for us. Most people are not arguing that BCAA is like our enhanced performance. It's really in that recovery, like reducing soreness, recovering faster. That's kind of what most BCAA supplements will promote. Take this and it will help with recovery. Take this and will help reduce soreness. My take on it is, since the supplementation of BCAAs has not proven to be across the board helpful. And you can get BCAA from protein, from eating protein, I'm always a big fan of if we can get it from our food, let's focus there. Like, let's get our supplementation, let's get our, I mean acids from food rather than supplementation. And so, for me, I focus on getting protein in around my workout. I workout first thing in the morning, so I actually don't usually eat food. Sometimes I will eat some carbs before I go workout, but I don't ever eat protein before I go workout. That's just works, works for me because I work out first thing in the morning. But I definitely do make sure that I consume protein after my workout. So, I'm getting access. I do it in the form of whey. So, I get, I drink whey protein shake after my workout. And I'm getting access now to those amino, those BCAAs, amino acid inside of the whey protein shake. So, if you are consuming protein and specifically if you're consuming protein around your workouts, you're getting access to those amino acids. Now where, if there is a place that BCAA supplementation has, may have a place, it would be in the training fasted. Some people, there is some research to support, again not across the board. So this is not like, everybody agrees on this, there is some research to support that supplementation with BCAAs pre workout. If you are training fasted, can help stave off muscle wasting. Again, the research isn't super clear on this. I personally don't take them. I don't. I eat plenty of protein, I don't take BCAAs pre workout, I do train facet many days, not all days. I would say about, I'd say about 1/3 of the days. I eat some carbs beforehand. I go off of how I feel. And I go off of what the workout is for the day. So, if we're doing more heavy lifting or we're doing more cardio like heavier cardio, longer cardio, I will tend to eat some carbs usually like around 100 calories of carbs, so 25 ish grams of carbs pre-workout so that I have the energy needed to have access to energy during the workouts. But then you know there are 2/3 to half time. I'm training facet again, that's what works for me. It's not the best way. It's not the only way. I've personally tested it with my body multiple ways and that's just what feels good to me and I would encourage you to do the same, your body is different, you, it's just different. So you need to test it out. Try it out, try out training facet, try out training not fasted. Mess around with it and see how you feel and you'll find a good way that works for you.
Collagen Supplements 28:25
OK, I mentioned collagen. So let's talk about collagen because this has become a pretty trendy supplement. I feel like in the last couple of years, collagen for a long time has really just been found in topical ingredients because we know that our skin is made of a lot of collagen and so makes sense to, if you like, want to support and have healthier skin, put some collagen on it right, as like a topical. However, we've really found that it doesn't permeate really to the deep layers of the skin, which is like collagen is not like the epidermis, it's like down deeper and the collagen fibers themselves because they're larger, they don't actually permeate the skin pass like the outer layers and so we don't use collagen as much for topical ingredients. What you'll see now are like peptides like, a lot of like skin care products will tout that they have peptides in them. That's because they are smaller, they're littler and the idea is that they can go deeper into the skin, right, cause the skin is not just the epidermis. There's different layers of the skin. You have the epidermis, you have the dermis and it's a deeper. There's a lot deeper parts of your skin than just the part that you can see. So again, collagen is a larger, it's a pretty large molecule. So, then we realize, OK, so maybe it's not working to put it on our skin, but maybe if we ingest it that's going to be more helpful in getting it into our skin. You have to be careful when we like, make assumptions like this because in order for things to get into our body, they have to get outside of our GI tract. Right. So your GI tract is basically one long tube that starts at your mouth and ends at your anus, and things can go from your mouth all the way through this tube and out your anus or out your urethra and you know, some of the things don't even like make it out. Like make it into your body and so that's a, it's important to recognize that just because you ingest something doesn't mean you're actually, it's actually getting out into your body, it's getting out into your blood flow or even getting into your blood flow. It's not getting filtered out through your liver or through your kidneys. So just understanding a little bit of Anatomy, a little bit of Physiology can help you to more critically think through what supplements are worth spending your money on. OK, so with collagen it's become more invoked to now ingest the collagen. So then what does the research say? The research is pretty mixed there. It's not cut and dry, it's not completely clear. It does appear to help a little bit with signs of aging and improvement of skin elasticity. But that's kind of the extent, like nowhere in the research are we supportive of like gaining muscle or anything like that. Again, remember, collagen is an incomplete protein. It doesn't even have all of the essential amino acids in it, so it's an incomplete protein. Maybe it helps a little bit with skin elasticity. Like, that's the one that's the clearest. A lot of times people would be like, well, how’s with hair and skin and nails and again the like, there's just not enough research to actually say that it's research supported, that it actually promotes that. So, it's one of those things there's not really a downside to collagen other than the expense of it. So, if you like it, great like, it's not going to hurt you. But it's also not really doing that much according to the research.
Now some people are like, Hey, I notice a difference when I take it. Awesome. Love that. Keep doing it. In research, there's a saying of an N of 1. So, an N is the number of people in a research project. I talked about this last episode, where usually we're looking for the sample size to be very, very large. But, in the end of the day, you are an N of 1. And honestly, if the N of one has season effect, then that's all that really matters, like you as the N of one are what matters and the placebo effect is a real phenomenon, right? We have to control from placebo, it's not fake like, placebo effect is actually real, meaning, if you think something's going to work, it may work, and we don't really understand why other than like you believe it's going to work and so it does. And man, we could go down a whole rabbit hole with placebo effect and nocebo effect, which is the opposite of placebo effect. But like people who think that they get surgery but don't actually get surgery, those like sometimes get better, like it’s crazy. The power of the mind and the power of belief. I mean, there's research projects. Well, again, they'll like, do an incision on somebody so that they think that they got surgery. They'll give them all the post surgical care, but they didn't actually do anything in their body and people will improve and their health will improve and their symptoms will get better. It's crazy, right? So, placebo effect, nocebo effect. Those are real phenomenon. So again, as an N of 1, if you like something and it works for you and you feel like your hair, skin and nails are better when you start taking collagen, they probably are. And who cares if it's just because you believe that they're getting better, like the end result is still the same. They're getting better. So anyway, that's my little like step off my soap box, N of 1. If you think something is working well for you and you enjoy it and you don't mind spending the money on it, knock yourself out, girlfriend.
Fish Oil Supplements 34:02
OK, next supplement is fish oil. This is an interesting one because I grew up in the time when like, fish oil was like the bomb.com, like everybody and their dog took fish oil. I remember my mom took fish oil, like it was THE supplement. And everybody thought that it was like the greatest thing since sliced bread. And again, where this came from was this idea of Omega-3. We realized that Omega-3s are really important in our diet and most of us don't get enough. So, Omega-3s were found primarily in fatty fish, and so what we noticed is in regions where people ate a lot of these fatty fish, they ate a lot of Omega-3s. They had lower rates of heart disease and so we saw this, remember we talked about last week, we talked about these like correlation research studies. So, we had this like correlation research that showed people who consumed more Omega-3 had lower risk of heart disease. They had lower blood pressure and they had lower triglyceride levels. They had less plaque forming in their arteries and overall like lots of good results came, and so again we have brilliant humans are like, fantastic. We'll just package fish oil like this great source of omega-3 and this little pill, we’ll just give it to people. Done. And so again, there was like this phase of like everybody and their dog taking fish oil and fish oils nasty BT dubs. If you've never taken fish oil and you don't know what a fish burp is, count yourself lucky. But essentially, like a lot of fish oil supplements, you would like take it. And of course, you don't taste anything going down because it's in a capsule. But then you would get these like people get these burps and they would like, smell and taste like fish oil. They're nasty. It was like the worst part of taking fish oil supplements cause I took them for a while, cause again everybody and their dog, it's like this is something that's going to help reduce your risk of heart attack, your heart disease, like all good stuff.
OK. So then there was a huge research project that was conducted on fish oil. It was called the strength trial and it was published in 2020, and it was a giant research study with 13,000 adults, and they actually ended the research study early because there was that much evidence that taking fish oil wasn't producing the results that they wanted it to produce, and so they ended up ending the research study early. So, this threw a big wrench into what we've thought for a long time, which is that supplementing with fish oil is so good for our hearts and we're kind of left at the point where we don't really know why. Maybe supplementation doesn't work in the same way that eating fish works, but it seems like there's a difference. There's a difference in supplementation versus getting the omega-3 from our food and some further follow-up research has shown that maybe that there's a benefit for people who are post cardiac event or have been recently hospitalized with heart failure. There's some evidence that maybe for those patients, it can be protective of the heart, but the certainty with which we used to feel like we had around fish oil was really what raised into question with this really large, randomized control perspective research study that was done and released in 2020. So, this we're still kind of on the fence. We're the jury still out when it comes to fish oil and so of course this is really something that you should be talking to your physician about, your medical history, your risk of heart disease. And you know, your, whether or not you've had heart attack or you know anything heart related would be taken into account when deciding when to take this, but it's just interesting because fish oil used to be one of those things that was just like, yeah, everybody should be taking fish oil. Because we saw this correlation with people who ate a lot of fish and it just didn't play out in the same way, which again goes to show that, like, supplementing with something isn't the same thing for whatever reason, we don't really know why as getting that from food. So anytime that you can get nutrition from food, it seems like that's the way to go.
Vitamin D Supplements 38:30
All right. Another one that I've heard a lot about and people ask about a lot is Vitamin D. So, Vitamin D is not an amino acid, which we've talked about a lot of amino acids, but Vitamin D is actually a fat-soluble vitamin. It is essential for bone health. It helps to regulate calcium and phosphate absorption and bone metabolism. We, typically our body can generate Vitamin D in the presence of sunlight. So, the sun, when we are out in the sun, the ultraviolet rays hit our skin and that causes Vitamin D synthesis to occur. So, if you spend enough time out in the sun, your body can generate Vitamin D. The problem is, is a lot of us don't spend as much time out in the sun as we used to. And especially with the use of sunscreens, because yeah, we're worried about skin cancer and not wanting, you know, wrinkles and all of those things that a lot of people, more people now than used to be are deficient in vitamin D. On the far end of the spectrum, if you don't get a vitamin, enough vitamin D, it can cause a disease called Rickets, most people are not, so far to the side of having a problem with rickets, but it seems like more people nowadays than maybe 20, 30 or 50 years ago have lower levels of vitamin D than we used to have. Now the tricky thing with vitamin D compared to something like vitamin C, so vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin versus vitamin D, which is a fat-soluble vitamin. Water soluble vitamins are not very dangerous because if we have too much of them because they are water soluble, they just get excreted in our urine. My husband likes to say it just makes you have really expensive urine. People who come into his office who are taking, like bajillion vitamins and minerals and supplements. They just have really a lot of them have just really expensive urine because the body just gets rid of all the excess that it doesn't need through the urine for when we're talking about water soluble vitamins like vitamin C. Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin, which means your body can't excrete it through the urine, and so it can build up in the body and there, so there's a range, a good range, and if you go too high with vitamin D, that can actually be dangerous. So, it's important to understand that because again some vitamins, vitamin C being an example, you can't really overdose on it, like you could take way above the maximum allowance of vitamin C and your body would just process it and pee it out. No big deal. But for some, you need to be really careful of it because we don't want to be too low, but we also don't want to be too high, right? Like, it's like that sweet spot in between. So, there was a really big research study called vital that was done with 25,000 adults, remember looking at, like really large sample sizes over five years and it seems that vitamin D supplementation didn't help with invasive cancers or cardiovascular events which they were kind of hoping that it would be like heart protective or help with cancer. So, it appears that vitamin D doesn't necessarily help with those two things. But, if you are chronically low with your vitamin D, again, this is something that you can have measured. This is something that you can do a test for, then maybe your physician is going to want you to supplement to be able to get you in that to that, that sweet spot. Again, hopefully you're having a physician who monitors this, that is saying, OK, maybe you're low. Let's start you on a dose and then come back and make sure that we're in that range. We're not going too high, right? So hopefully if you're supplementing with vitamin D, I would be encouraging you to have regular checkups and regular blood draws so that you're making sure that you're not going too high with vitamin D. You just can't take a ton and just cross your fingers and hope that you're good. It should be something that is monitored.
All about Probiotics 42:28
All right, what about probiotics? So probiotics, the first of all, the GI tract has, I feel like has come into vogue as of late, it and honestly, it's something that we are learning a lot about in terms of the realm of science and our understanding of the GI tract, there's a lot of things that we don't understand and that we're starting to understand the more that we research it, there's a much bigger connection with hormones and the GI tract than we ever thought before. And I think we are kind of on the cusp of a better understanding of everything that goes on with the GI tract. So oftentimes when people are taking probiotics, they are doing it to improve GI symptoms. So, gas or bloating or constipation or these are uncomfortable GI symptoms and oftentimes, people will take a probiotic to hopefully improve those symptoms. This is again, another example of where an N of 1 is really the most important. If you're somebody who has constant bloat or gas or constipation and taking a probiotic really helps improve those symptoms, knock yourself out like, golly, that's definitely a great way to go. There is good research to support that probiotics are beneficial to the gut. The gut is composed of a lot of large flora of, large microbiomes. So, a lot of flora, a lot of different microorganisms are in our gut that play a role in digestion and in absorption of food and probiotics can help with supporting the growth of the good bacteria in our gut. There's also a question still, is taking a probiotic and a supplement form the same as getting it through food? Because you can get probiotics in things like yogurt, in Kiefer and fermented vegetables. So those are again more natural ways to be able to make sure that you're getting those probiotics. And it's always better to be getting nutrients from food and that's kind of where I stand with a probiotic. I feel like we have enough until we have research to back up that shows that a supplementation of probiotic does the same thing as getting those probiotics from food. I would always default to trying to get those supplements from food, so making sure that you're including probiotic sources, yogurt, Kiefer, fermented vegetables into your diet to be able to help you have access to those probiotics.
OK, what about just like a generic multivitamin, Amber? This is a tricky one. There is one aspect of a multivitamin that is very, very clear, for a very for a certain population, and that is folic acid for mumps, for pregnant women. There is a very clear research, well supported, that taking folic acid when you are pregnant helps prevent spina bifida in your baby, that's like cut and dry. All women of childbearing years, especially those who are trying to get pregnant, should be supplementing with folic acid. Hands down like close, end of story. So that is very clear. The research bears that out. A multivitamin of a ton of different vitamins, you know, trying to make sure that we're getting a wide swath of vitamins is a different story, and there has been quite a bit of research done on multivitamins. In fact, there was a big analysis of research. This is a meta analysis done and in the meta analysis it looked at studies that covered over 450,000 people, right. So almost almost half a million people and it was pretty clear that multivitamins did not reduce the risk for heart disease or cancer, so that's a big blow to support, like, to the fact that multivitamins don't actually help with reduction of cancer and reduction of heart disease. There's also a big randomized controlled trial in the US that had almost 15,000 participants and this also was the same thing revealed that multivitamin does not reduce cardiovascular events, so namely, heart attacks, myocardial infarctions, or strokes. This one was specifically in men so, you know, take that for what it's worth. But this is a pretty large randomized controlled trial with men that showed it didn't really prevent heart attacks or strokes. I think the moral of the story when it comes to multivitamin is that supplements, pills, medications are not the shortcut to better health. Like, I think all of us wish that we could just spend a little bit of money and that would just make us healthier. And I think that's the idea of a multivitamin. It's just like I'll spend a little bit of money and it will just like plug all the holes in my diet and it just doesn't bear out in the research. Eating a healthy diet with a wide variety of foods with enough fiber, with getting enough vitamins, enough whole foods is not the same as taking a multivitamin, and so we can't pretend that it's just going to be just the same, and I'll just plug all my holes with the multivitamin. A lot of times, like as my husband said, it's like people who are taking multivitamins, they're just creating really expensive pee. A lot of that is just getting peed out, and it's questionable as to whether it's really actually benefiting you in the long run.
Greens as Supplements 48:08
Greens are a very similar thing. Again, is eating green vegetables healthy for you? The research is pretty clear that diet high in fruits and vegetables is healthy for you, is protective of longevity. When you take that down and Micron ionize it and put it into a powder, and then drink it, does it do the same thing? We don't really know and again, I think if we can just come back to this idea of pills are not going to save us, supplements are not going to save us, powders are not going to save us. Really focusing on making sure that you're including those on a daily, you know, daily, weekly basis in your diet is going to do way, it's going to benefit you way more like, that $40 that you're going to spend on that multivitamin if you spend that $40 and ate fish a couple times a week or spend that $40 and eat more vegetables, that's going to be, that's going to get you further in your health journey than dropping $40 on a multivitamin, or on a green supplement. I don't know that either of those are going to be harmful or damaging for you, so if you have money to burn, knock yourself out. But I think we do ourselves a disservice when we feel like, oh, I've covered that base, I don't really need to eat spinach because I take my green supplement. That's a dangerous foul seed to fall into. And again, I would rather you take the $40 and spend it on some more vegetables. Figuring out a way to like green vegetables, you know, eating more fiber, again having more fish in your diet. Like use that $40 with things that have been shown to actually induce health and the supplements just don't have the research behind it to be able to justify in my mind doing that, unless you have money to burn and you just like it and you enjoy it, knock yourself out. But I don't know that the research backs it up.
Fat Burners 50:04
And I think it's the same thing for fat burners. I think again, most of your success is going to come from your diet and your exercise when it comes to burning fat. And there's just not a ton of research that is really super conclusive that fat burners make that big of a difference. I do know some competitors who swear by it, like, you know, when you're getting super lean, when you're trying to get as lean as possible for stage and for a competition. Maybe having that little extra boost of a fat burner, maybe does, you know, that last 1%. But for most people, we're not trying to get that last 1%. You want the like, 40%. You're trying to lose like 40 pounds. Not like that last one pound, when you're going from 14% body fat to 13% body fat, it's a completely different scenario. And so, for a majority of people, again spending 40, 50, 60, $80 on a fat burner. If you took those 40, 50, 60, $80 and put it into a gym membership or put it into a meal planning service or put it into, you know, all these other things that can actually promote health, you're going to be spending your money a whole lot more wise.
Supplements for Pregnant and Breastfeeding moms 51:20
All right, last thing that I want to address is for my pregnant and breastfeeding moms, because people always ask me about supplements combining with pregnancy and compliant combining with breastfeeding. It's important to understand that with research, in order to conduct research, your research has to be approved by the IRB, which is an Institutional Review Board. So, for any clinical research that's done, there is a board that determines whether that research can go forward or not. And so you as a program designer, you have to go and submit your idea to the IRB who you're going to be testing, how you're going to be doing that testing, how you're going to maintain the safety of everybody and the confidentiality of everybody in that test, and basically what the whole format and structure of it is you have to submit that to the IRB and then the IRB will decide and determine whether or not you can move forward with that research project.
One of the things that the IRB is looking at is who are you studying and is that a medically ethical population to be conducting research on. Last time my husband made the point that you couldn't, for some things you can only do like retrospective, looking back, studies on them because it's not medically ethical to take two groups of people and randomize them to, OK you guys are going to smoke and you guys are not going to smoke. We know that smoking is harmful, so it would not be medically ethical to put somebody in a group and making them smoke. So that would be an example of something that would never ever, ever pass an IRB because it's not medically ethical to randomize someone to that, to smoking. Similarly, pregnant women and breastfeeding women are a vulnerable population, and because there is another life at stake, it is very hard to get research approved to study pregnant women or breastfeeding women, it just is, it's really hard to justify, and especially we're talking about something like creatine, where the benefit of creatine is like you can lift a little bit more, you can build a little bit more muscle. The cost benefit just is not there to, with the potential harm to a fetus or potential harm to a nursing baby. When you're weighing that against the benefit is to like, eke out a couple more reps. It, you can't justify that to an IRB. So, because of that, most of the research will, most of the research in the supplement world is not done on pregnant and breastfeeding women, and that's not to say that it's not safe. It's just, you're never going to be able to do research on that vulnerable population, so for that reason it's always my opinion that it's better safe than sorry, when we're talking about a fetus, when we're talking about a baby. It's, and we're talking about the benefit being like you can push a little harder in the gym. To me, it's not worth it. It's not worth it to have a little bit more, build a little bit more muscle when we just don't know the effects that it has on a baby. So, in my opinion, when I'm pregnant, I stay away from supplements. Not because they're dangerous, not because they're going to hurt the baby. But we just don't know. We don't have research to back it up and that's important to know when making that decision.
All right, well, I mean, we could go on for hours and hours and hours more because there are lots and lots of supplements, but I feel like we've covered the most common ones, the ones that people have the most questions about and hopefully you're leaving this episode feeling a little bit more educated on research, on supplements in general and on maybe which ones are, you know, worth your money and which ones aren't. As a reminder, if you are feeling like maybe your head is swimming a little bit with a ton of information and you want a more condensed PDF version of everything that I've said today, you can go to bicepsafterbabies.com/286, which is the show notes for this episode and there will be a link, a little button down, if you scroll on the page, the little button where you can download the free PDF that goes alongside with this episode or if you go to bicepsafterbabies.com/supplements same thing, you'll be able to put your name and e-mail and we'll e-mail you that PDF so it'll be a little bit more condensed summary of the things that I said here. I hope this has been a helpful podcast series. I know there's a lot of questions about supplements. Hopefully I made you feel a little bit more empowered too, that if you have questions about supplements, I really encourage you go to Google Scholar, go to PubMed. Another one that's really good is examine.com and even just like a little bit of a search on some of those sites can give you some highlights of information of where the research is at, when it comes to that supplement. Alright, that wraps up this episode of Biceps After Babies. Radio. I'm Amber, now go out and be strong because remember my friend, you can do anything.
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