Wrote this in 2010. 7 years later, what’s different? Not much. My recommendations and personal usage remain the same with one caveat. As far as fat burners go, there’s nothing legal left worth buying ‘cept caffeine pills.
Back in the day, you could still buy some pretty hardcore/grey zone thermogenics on bodybuilding.com, but those are all gone and replaced by inferior “Version 2’s” with the effective ingredient removed. One such example is Jack3d, which in the original formula contained DMAA, now a prohibited substance. Taken off the market because someone somewhere died overdoing it.
Other examples include products containing yohimbine which, at least in the EU, is a problematic substance. Again, because someone died overdoing it. Not to mention Craze – craziest fat burner I ever tried but not in a good way. In any case, for nostalgic reasons, I’ve left my reviews of the original Jack3d and others.
For your supplement research needs, I highly recommend Examine.com. They also publish a Research Digest that I’m subscribed too. Although there’s not much new or interesting under the sun, it’s good to know when it appears.
Now on to some supplements you might actually find useful.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you don’t need a long-winded rationale for this. Maintaining a good omega-3:omega-6-ratio is important. Take 2 g EPA and 1.5 g DHA per day.
Read: “Omega-3 Fatty Acids for Muscle Growth: Promising Potential.”
Recommended: NutraSea Balanced EPA & DHA Omega 3 Supplement or NOW Ultra Omega 3 Fish Oil.
Emerging evidence suggests people don’t get enough vitamin D and RDA is set too low. Of particular importance to us Nordic people. Good read this free full-text paper on vitamin D in health and disease.
Moreover, vitamin D may boost strength and athletic performance. 2000 IU/day is a conservative and safe dosage, but some go higher without negative implications. (>5000 IU)
Recommended:NOW Vitamin D-3, Structural Support 2000 I.U., 240 Softgels
If you’re not a regular coffee drinker, you’re missing out by not taking caffeine pills on your diet. It’s surprisingly potent if you dose 100-200 mg every other hour throughout the day – that’ll burn off an extra 150-200 kcal, amounting to almost half a pound of fat loss per week. Done a fair bit of research on this and those findings will come to light soon. For now, know that caffeine is the only worthwhile fat burner in town. Cheap, appetite blunting and thermogenic..
Recommended: Nutricost Caffeine Pills 100mg Per Serving, 250 Capsules or ProLab Caffeine Maximum Potency 200mg Tablets, 100-Count
Creatine is the only legal performance boosting supplement worth buying. Well, except for caffeine maybe, but creatine easily adds 1-3 reps to your lifts. Which is insane if you ask me. But I’m a non-responder myself, which sucks. In any case, creatine works and has solid scientific support, so this is a no-brainer if you’re looking for a boost.
Recommended: Optimum Nutrition Creatine Powder, Unflavored, 600g
BCAA or EAA
I use BCAA or EAA pre-workout whenever I train fasted. For any other purpose than fasted training, it’s overpriced protein powder and doesn’t fill a role beyond that. If you’re interested in the rationale, check the BCAA tag for articles in which I’ve explained it. Take 10 g pre-workout before fasted training.
Recommended: Scivation Xtend BCAA Powder, Branched Chain Amino Acids, BCAAs, Watermelon, 90 Servings
I recommend supplemental calcium to anyone who may not be getting enough through their regular diet, i.e. people who don’t consume dairy. You want calcium intake in the optimal range, as it increases fat excretion and boosts testosterone.
Adding a 500-750mg tablet everyday will do the trick.
Recommended: NOW Calcium Citrate,250 Tablets
Ideal use is pre-and post-workout. Beyond that, you’re better off with whole food sources of protein or casein. Whey is very fast absorbing and doesn’t leave aminos in your blood stream for long. To save money, you can replace BCAA or EAA with whey before fasted training. Don’t think it would make much of a difference.
Recommended: Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey Protein Powder, Double Rich Chocolate, 5 Pound
Casein is slow-releasing protein and serves well as an all-purpose protein powder. Have periods where I go through cans of this stuff, mainly mixing it up with cottage cheese.
Recommended: Dymatize Elite 100% Micellar Casein Slow Absorbing Protein, Rich Chocolate, 4 lbs
I’ve used Glucosamine for knee and elbow pain. Did it work? Well, I got rid of the pain, but hard to say if that’s thanks to the supplement, since I made other changes as well. It does have some scientific support and many people swear by it, so it’s worth giving a shot.
Recommended: NOW Glucosamine 1.1g, Chondroitin 1.2g, with MSM 300mg, 180 Capsules
Discontinued products from the olden days…
This stuff is nasty as hell. On the plus side, it has a quite potent stimulatory effect and works very well as an appetite suppressant.
If you can’t stand the horrid taste of Clenbutrx, VPX Meltdown is a great alternative. This one actually has legit scientific backing, which is a true rarity when it comes to fat loss products. You can read both (free full text) studies on Meltdown here and here. Note the effect on resting energy expenditure. Not bad.
This herb may be particularily useful for those trying to get rid of stubborn body fat – such as the fat covering lower abs and back in lean men and thighs and hips in lean women. Hokey as that may sound, there is a valid explanation for how this occurs. Lyle McDonald explains this in great detail in The Stubborn Body Fat Solution. In short, yohimbine inhibits alpha-2-receptors (and lower abs/back has a high density of a2-receptors) which aids with blood flow and fat mobilization from stubborn fat areas.
Yohimbine is another fat loss product that has been proven effective in clinical trials and this is perhaps the most widely cited study on the effects of yohimbine on body composition.
Pure yohimbine may lead to feelings of anxiety and even panic attacks in predisposed individuals. A better alternative can be found in Alpha Burn, and other supplements containing rauwolscine, which is a stereoisomer of yohimbine. Reg from Predator Nutrition recently sent me a box of these and I can vouch for it’s psychoactive effects not being as rough as pure yohimbine. While it won’t make you as jumpy and jittery as yohimbine, it seems to have a pretty potent appetite suppressive effect.
I’ve been trying a wide range of pre-workout supplements but I’ve never found something worth recommending. Some like the extra pump from NO Xplode and similar nitric oxide based supps, I just don’t any use for it.
I was pleasantly surprised by Jack3d. Besides the usual ingredients present in many pre-workout supplements, such as caffeine, creatine, arginine and beta-alanine, it contains 1,3-Dimethylamylamine also known as geranamine. This is a potent stimulant (as far as legal alternatives goes) and this is what provides the oomph in this product. Apparently Geranamine is used as recreational drug in some circles and banned in a few countries. I wouldn’t be surprised if we’ll see more countries banning it soon as everything that is mildly effective seems to get a ban sooner or later. Shortly after I wrote the supplements guide, Meltdown and Clenbutrx both got banned in Sweden.
Anyway, being somewhat resistant to stims, I started off with the maximum recommended dosage the first time (three scoops). After 5-10 minutes, I could tell that it was working as I got an intense urge to do the dishes. During training, I didn’t notice anything out of the norm besides a somewhat uncomfortable back pump after squatting. After training, I had to wait two hours before my appetite returned. I never have problems eating after training, especially not after fasted training, but the thought of food made me queasy. I also noticed some slightly panicky feelings at that point, the kind where you want to crawl out of your own skin. Nothing serious, but for those sensitive to CNS stimulants or prone to anxiety attacks, I would not recommend starting off with the highest dose like I did. However, it seems tolerance develops and within a few days I could use the maximum recommended dosage without any side-effects. Unfortunately, the stimulant effect is also lessened.
In my experience, Jack3d is quite effective, but less so for the purpose it’s advertised. I see it’s use mainly as an appetite surpressant or stimulant, much like ephedrine. The mechanism by which Jack3d exerts its effect is also similar to ephedrine in that it increases epinephrine/adrenaline, which in turn boosts lipolysis and leads to that “focused” feeling. Or that urge to do something, anything.
Either way you want to use it, for a pre-workout or motivational boost, or appetite surpression, Jack3d works, which is why it ends up on my list of recommended, but certainly not essential, list of supplements.
By the way, I haven’t found any studies to back the effectiveness of 1,3-dimethylamylamine for fat loss. If anyone knows of any human trials regarding its use for weight loss or improving cognition, alertness, or anything else for that matter, let me know. I always try to find some scientifical backing for the supplements I recommend but I’m at a loss for this one.
Adipoxil is a strange beast. It’s different from all other fat burners reviewed here in the sense that it has no stimulatory properties. At the same time, it’s a very potent appetite suppressant – at least as far as legal alternatives goes. I suspect this might be explained by the synephrine and the “lipolytic oxidation protocol,” which contains cayenne pepper and various other thermorgenic compounds. Synephrine and cayenne pepper are both known to suppress appetite.
There’s also a peculiar side-effect that’s noticeable shortly after ingesting the tabs; it alters taste, and specifically it made coffee undrinkable. I’m not sure how to describe it. I’m a coffee-fiend but that hot cup of goodness turned wretched after I downed the tabs. Also, be careful with the dosing and don’t go for double dose the first time you try it. I experienced nausea with two tabs and it wasn’t very pleasant.
Anyway, Adipoxil might be a good alternative for those looking for a supplement without pronounced stimulatory properties. I need to add a big disclaimer here however; Adipoxil does contain Yohimbine and caffeine, and should provide a stimulatory effect. I might just be a weird outlier to not have noticed anything. If you do try it, let me know in comments if you felt anything. I should also note that I only tried this three days in a row, so I’m not sure about tolerance issues. For the short time I ran it, it worked very well.
I also tried another supplement from iForce Nutrition, the makers of Adipoxil: a pre-workout supplement called “Maximize V2”. This was nothing special – pretty much the same as Jack3d, but less potent.