Co-Authored by yours truly, Heather of GF2 and my hubby Thaddeus of Eris Fit LLC. Basically, my husband wrote an article and I went and improved it with my own personal experience…. and possibly, just maybe changed a little bit, or ALOT of it to read better for all you fine readers of Get Fit. Go Figure! 😀
I stand by everything I say in this article and use these supplements myself. Several of the links in this article gives us a percentage of your sale as an affiliate at no extra charge to you. If you want to support this blog or Eris Fits’ blog, click on the links and buy the brands we stand by.
In This Post:
Having just finished a season of cutting calories, cardio’ing and competing, I wanted to share with you some of the supplements I took to help keep me sane, energized and focused.
You all know how you feel when you diet on low calories. You are low on energy and brain power. Multiply that 10 fold when you are super lean and your body thinks you are literally starving to death.
Your ability to pick heavy shit up gets so much harder. Putting out the same amount of effort you did 2 months prior becomes a very challenging activity. Not to mention the brain drain you experience, the tired unmotivated feeling day in and day out, the sleep issues, the irritability- all that because your body is stressed from a calorie deficit. These conditions are not ideal for building muscle … muscle is an energy expensive tissue and the last thing your body is willing to do is build extra muscle when in a calorie deficit.
You know the feeling of sitting in the locker room having a conversation in your head trying to get your ass up and working out! Maybe you even talk yourself into heading to the nearest Caribou for a extra grande chocolate mocha with caramel flavor and whipped cream on top of that coffee made from coffee beans harvested in the purest mountains of Narnia just because you totally deserve it!
Stop sabotaging yourself and find a way to renew your motivation, energy and focus. Even if you are not dieting but maintaining or trying to build muscle, you will find some serious benefits to the following supplements for recovery, rest and booty building!
These top supplements are not yet widely known in the bodybuilding community and will give you an edge on your competition. Unlike some performance enhancing substances that bodybuilders keep secret, and are likely illegal or banned by the US Anti Doping Association, these substances, while still underground, are not questionable in their legality and are associated with beneficial long term health markers.
We tested, trialed, threw out and then brought you our top 7 picks for the best bodybuilding supplements money can buy.
You can have more motivation, energy and focus as well as optimize rest and recovery. And, if you are like me… creepin in my late 30’s trying to compete with the early 20 somethings’ tight body and naturally lifted glutes, then you know you need every advantage you can get!
The first couple supplements I want to mention fall in the nootropic category. Nootropics are often called smart drugs and while most people don’t think about smart drugs when they think about bodybuilding, they should. Some supplement companies are starting to add nootropics to their pre and intra workout supplements.
Nootropics can help you dial in your workouts, energy, motivation and focus.
Nootropics are associated with the following beneficial effects such as:
- Allow you to spare or even build muscle while losing fat
- Massively Increase motivation (You can’t wait to get to the gym and move some weight)
- Increase perceived exertion (You can lift more and it feels like less work)
- Increase cognitive function (You sound smarter when hitting on Mr. Hottie 6 pack at the gym, okay, if you’re taken, just sounding smarter.)
- Increased focus (You focus on the workout and drop all the mind chatter about what you’re going to eat for dinner)
- Increased sense of wellbeing (You feel positive)
- Help you recover faster
- Decrease feelings of hunger
Nootropics are just a fancy name for what most people call smart drugs. These are over the counter supplements that increase the performance of our brains. Yes, you can purchase illegal or prescription substances that have similar functions and are touted in the tech and entrepreneurial community, but it’s best to leave those alone. Start with the widely used and studied nootropics that are available as supplements. One of my favorite nootropic stacks is Qualia.
1). Qualia – Focus, Motivation, Cortisol drop, critical micronutrients, Sustained Energy, Increased Nitric Oxide.
I LOVE Qualia. Hands down, this is the world’s first and most comprehensive nootropic stack to completely upgrade your mind and consciousness. Not only does it provide a handful of brain enhancing and athletic enhancing supplements like noopept, choline and Pureenergy®, but it also includes precursors, vitamins, minerals and adaptogenic herbs that work hand in hand to make this the most potent and effective smart supplement I have come across. Adaptogenic herbs help reduce the body’s stress response and increase immunity.
I cycle in Qualia 5 days a week as a key supplement in my program and, as my husband claims, Qualia was responsible for catapulting him, Thaddeus of Erisfit to the Paleo f(x) dead lifting record (72 reps of dead lifts in 2 minutes using his own body weight loaded on the bar. I also held the dead lifting record all weekend while having been hopped up on this stuff until this beast mode awesome women swooped in and killed it! 😀 But srsly, you have got to try this stuff.
Aside from taking this to help with performance and perceived exertion, I will time taking Qualia when I am working on my blog, as I am not the greatest writer. When I am able to hyper focus and get into flow state, writing becomes far easier, more efficient and eloquent (or as eloquent as my abilities are at this point). Qualia is also something I will time taking when I need to be in a room full of people networking or public speaking. Srsly, I mean, seriously. ;D
2) Cordyceps Mushrooms Cs-4 – Increased Energy, Stamina, Stress Relief, Immune Support.
Cordyceps Mushrooms are little known in the bodybuilding world but huge in the corporate and coaching world to help users increase energy and immune function. Used by some Olympic athletes to increase energy, endurance and reduce recovery time, cordyceps (unlike CBD, Qualia and Ketones) should be used in capsule form for about 4 weeks before effects on energy and recovery are at their highest. Just what you need for a pre-workout boost and post workout recovery all in one daily dose.
I take cordyceps with my morning supplement routine to reap the energy benefits. Contest prep is hard as hell, I needed every advantage to stay sane and my brain somewhat focused. I am continuing to take this supplement in my off season.
It’s important to find a quality source of mushroom extracts. Some companies will just grind up rice and mycelium (the stuff that makes the mushroom caps and bodies) after they have harvested the mushrooms to sell for food. You want a true double extraction with high potency to get the benefits. Cordyceps Cs-4 from Mushroom Science fits the bill. We spoke to the owner for over an hour to completely understand the mushroom supplement science and how important it is to use a high quality mushroom extract. There are also other high quality sources out there if you look.
3). Keto OS– exogenous Ketones – Energy, Focus, Less Hunger, Burn Fat and Build Muscle, Possible Health and Longevity Benefits.
Exogenous ketones is one of the least known and understood smart supplements but a powerful one that bodybuilders should get to know. Ask pro Bodybuilder Toney Freeman (See Pruvit with Toney Freeman here.)
Ketones are an alternate fuel source for your brain. Your brain can run off glucose or ketones. Ketones are said to be a preferred and cleaner burning energy source for the brain and have some very unique properties related to focus. Typically the body only produces ketones under two circumstances; 1) during fasting, and, 2) when eating a high fat very low carb diet. However, new research has shown that taking exogenous ketones (ketone supplements) allows the brain to make use of and obtain the benefits from ketones even while eating carbohydrates. Ketones are considered by some competitive bodybuilders to be a 4th macro.
Exogenous ketones are claimed to help the body spare muscle tissue and even allow muscle building while burning body fat. In addition, they can reduce cravings and hunger because the brain is getting high quality rocket fuel and isn’t calling for carbohydrates from the blood and muscles. Ketones are truly one of the up and coming secret weapons of the pros.
After my 2nd bodybuilding show this season, I started transitioning to a keto diet by lowering my protein and carbs and raising my calories from fat (Read more about that here). My calories were still lower at that point and I needed more energy before my workouts.
Knowing the benefits, I started taking Keto OS Orange Dream with caffeine as a pre-workout. I have got to tell you I really felt a difference. I had this sense of satisfaction as if I had just eaten a meal larger than I was actually allotted. It was pretty phenomenal and hard to explain. My body went from feeling near shitty from a calorie deficit to feeling content and my brain focused. Totally interesting and super cool!
Whether you are eating a low fat high carb diet or a balanced diet you can reap the benefit of burning ketones and glucose. Or, get the added benefits of exogenous ketones on a high fat low carb diet to get into ketosis faster and stay there once carbs are cycled in 1-2x per week.
The biohacking and longevity communities are already well aware of the benefits and have been experimenting with ketones for years. Try using a product like KETO/OS from Pruvit as your preworkout. It has caffeine and ketones to fuel your brain, your workout, keep you from feeling hungry and giving you what you need to blast into top gear (also available in caffeine free).
4). Pine Pollen – Potentially Increase Free Testosterone, Decrease Stress.
I know what you are thinking as a female… “ I don’t want added testosterone, I might grow chest hair and lose my female figure.” Wrong! (See also Lift Like a Man, Look Like a Goddess). Women have testosterone too and is an important hormone for us ladies.
We just have about 17 times less testosterone than men. And, pine pollen can help women maintain healthy levels of testosterone (T). When women are deficient in T, they can lose libido, feel fatigued, feel down or depressed, experience sleep disturbance and so on. So, Aside from reaping health benefits of pine pollen, this may help you maximize those booty gains and heavy shoulder days!
Alright, I’ll admit it seems like we’re getting down into the WOO WOO weeds here but, we know extracts from plants are the basis for almost all pharmaceuticals and supplements and some of these are completely natural and do not need to be processed to obtain the benefits.
Another supplement I have taken to help with hormone imbalance is called SupprEST. Works like a charm. My periods were extremely light and regular when they haven’t ever been before…. like never. And my hormonal acne was seriously improved.
If you are going to train hard and gain muscle, then you have to recover. Recovery is where muscle is built. In the gym you break down tissue. During sleep and rest you build back up.
Supporting your body in relaxing and recovering is critical, especially as you get further into a calorie deficit while dieting. It’s at this time when your body and mind are highly stressed and likely sending signals that you are dying and must eat!
Supporting your body with the right supplements can mean the difference between waking up feeling like you were hit with a ton of bricks and a good night’s sleep, faster recovery and more muscle.
No, this is not the illegal (in some states) form that contains THC from good ol Mary Jane, I mean marijuana. CBD oil comes from industrial hemp and contains cannabidiol oil that has been shown to reduce cortisol (and thus keep you anabolic-muscle building), help you relax and sleep better (ref 1). <<<< as if you need a study to tell you this has relaxing effects! Amirite?
I have got to tell you, I feel so relaxed and my body and mind significantly less stressed when I take this, especially before bed. Being that sleep is SO important to recovery, this is a go to relaxer, especially during contest prep when dieting down.
This is one of the best supplements you can take to relax and get better sleep at night. When you are in cut phase or prepping for a contest and your body thinks it’s dying, sleep may elude you. After experimenting with CBD oil, specifically BioCBD+ and Elixinol I have no doubt that CBD will help you relax and get you to sleep faster. I take this as needed and when I do I experienced deep relaxation and faster onset of sleep after supplementation about an hour before bed.
I have also used CBD oil spray from Jambo foods as well as a paste form from BioCBD+. The spray from Jambo foods I didn’t find as effective and the paste from BioCBD+ was the best! It is currently on back order! Boo!! I have yet to try the vape method although we have all the stuff.
With that, lock in gains and optimize your health by lowering cortisol and getting more sleep. Unlike THC from pot, the CBD oil can decrease appetite. Get your CBD from a clean source, like BioCBD+ or Elixinol to ensure you don’t run into any US Anti Doping Association or NCAA banned substance issues. It’s perfectly fine to use as long as you use a source that truly contains no THC. 10mg is the suggested usual dose, although some people go as high as 100mg to sleep like a baby on international flights.
These supplements are a great way to get to sleep. These were imperative for me to take toward the end of prep. My sleep quality through the night was declining rapidly and this helped me get to sleep and stay in a deeper sleep. This potent combo creates the 1-2 knock out punch you need to fall asleep. I like to use about 100mg of 5-HTP and 0.3mg-3mg of melatonin.
When you are hungry, stressed or your mind just won’t shut off, pop this combo to be asleep within a good 15 minutes. You can hack absorbing 5-HTP faster and using less by dissolving 1/3 of the 100mg capsule into a cup of water with a teaspoon of collagen protein and let it sit at least 30 minutes. The collagen helps solubilize the 5-HTP making it more bioavailable. Do this 30 minutes before bed, then drink it with a tablet of melatonin the get your butt in bed! When I do this extra step I better be ready to hit the sack, otherwise, I be stumblin.
7). BPC 157 – Massively Accelerated Recovery.
Okay, being that my hubby and I co-authored this, he put BPC 157 in here but I have no experience with it but it seems like a pretty sweet deal and has certainly gotten our attention. I could have used this when I sprained my ankle last May and just may have to try this on my shoulder tendons. At any rate, according to Ben Greenfield, this should probably be illegal or placed on the banned substance list, but it’s not (yet). See more of Ben Greenfields’ article on BPC 157 here.
BPC-157 is a peptide that is said to cause massive biological healing wherever you put it. Heal a sprained ankle, pulled muscle and more by either injecting this at the site of injury or squirting some into your mouth under your tongue. According to this article by Greenfield BPC 157 can “Repair tendon, muscle, intestines, teeth, bone and more, both in in-vitro laboratory “test-tube” studies, in in-vivo human and rodent studies, and when used orally or inject subcutaneously (under your skin) or intra-muscularly (into your muscle).” Try it at your own risk, but it sure grabbed our attention.
Get Out There and Get it Done
Get yourself a stack of smart supplements and recovery goodies. Get in the gym. Move some weight. Boost your progress!