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The 3 Best Supplements for Weight Loss and Building Muscle

supplement pills spilled out of a bottleIf you’re a regular reader of my blog, you know by now that I take a no BS approach to fitness. There are a lot of supplements out there touting claims from extreme fat loss to extreme muscle gain. No supplement is going to give you these drastic results. I don’t care if they have study after study proving it. As I’ve said before, studies can be used to prove just about anything. If you are going to put your faith in a study’s claim, make sure it wasn’t funded by the supplement company itself. Look for independent studies from reputable sources like pubmed.

All that being said, I do take some supplements myself, and I’m going to show you which ones I do take. But first, I want to explain what a supplement is supposed to be, because over time they have started to be used as a replacement for good nutrition. If you are going to use supplements as a crutch, you will fail. If you use supplements for what they are supposed to be used for – to supplement a good diet, they can greatly complement your fitness program.

The Top 3 Best Supplements to Lose Fat and Build Muscle

The first supplement on the list is protein powder. I use whey protein once a day immediately after working out in my protein shake. Whey is a fast digesting protein with an outstanding amino acid profile. It will get the muscle rebuilding process started immediately.

I personally drink pure unflavored protein powder, but I realize that’s not ideal for everyone. Over time, try to wean yourself off of the flavored protein powders. As I talked about in The Only 2 Essential Macronutrients, protein and fat (specifically essential fatty acids) are the only two macronutrients that our bodies cannot manufacture, and need to be ingested from our diets. Which leads me into the next supplement on the list.

Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are the second item on the list. And as the name suggests, they are essential. Too many people lack the proper amount of omega 3s in their diets. You must be eating EFAs if you want to maintain your health, let alone optimize your fat burning potential. I like getting my EFAs from animal products because they contain DHA and EPA. Your body converts the EFAs it gets from plant sources and converts it to the longer chain fatty acids – DHA and EPA. I like to go ahead and skip this conversion process and jump right to the end product, because some people are inefficient at converting ALA into DHA/EPA.

Confused? Don’t be. Just understand that most people are deficient in essential fatty acids, and supplementing is an easy way to get what’s required. I specifically use Carlson’s Cod Liver Oil. I find that it’s the best on the market, and it has a lemon taste. I take 1 tsp everyday, and then I eat immediately after.

Last but not least on the list of top supplements are vitamins/minerals. So simple, yet so effective. More than likely your diet is lacking in valuable nutrients. Make sure you are taking your vitamins with meals. Many vitamins are fat soluble and need food in order to be fully assimilated. Fat soluble vitamins can be stored for a period of time, however, water soluble vitamins need to be ingested or supplemented daily because they are not readily stored.

Orange Triad has all the vitamins/minerals your body needs, and it does it without unnecessary fillers and food dyes. There is no replacement for a nutrient dense diet, but Controlled Labs’ Orange Triad does a great job at plugging the vitamin/mineral deficiencies in your diet.

So there you have it, my no BS guide to the top supplements for losing fat and building muscle. These are products I use myself, and I wouldn’t recommend them if I didn’t think they were valuable additions to your fitness program.

You’ll notice there are no fat burner pills, or special muscle building powders on this list. I don’t believe in these products. Maybe they work, or maybe they don’t, but they are not needed to achieve your results, and many of them can cause more harm than good.

The supplement industry is unregulated in the sense that they don’t need to show proof that there isn’t any harm caused to your body over time. So don’t take any chances, save your money, and stick to the supplements that your body needs, and use proper diet and exercise to achieve your wants.

  • Melanie

    Hi! I enjoy your site. I was wondering how to choose the best whey protein? Does it matter or are the basically all the same? I usually pick one sweetened w/ stevia but is there anything else I should consider?

    Thanks

  • Coach Calorie

    “Best” is going to vary based on opinion. I get mine from allthewhey.com I just get the plain unsweetened whey isolate. I find the prices to be good. They have sweetened ones too, but I try to stay away from the artificial sweeteners now and just use frozen fruit as a natural flavor/sweetener. I would go with whey isolate. The concentrate will be cheaper, but it’s not as pure, and some people will have digestive issues with it.

  • Bill

    Here is a list of supplements I take:

    Pyruvate
    Flaxseed
    Multi mineral
    Multi vitamin
    L-glutamine
    Tyrosine
    Carnitine
    CLA
    Fish Oil

    Any thoughts

    • Coach Calorie

      Hey Bill, I’ve tried all of them in my life with the exception of pyruvate. I would say they all have their purpose, but here is my recommendation.

      Drop the flax, and just stick to fish oil. The ALA converts to DHA in the fish oil, but in most people, it is very efficient.

      Multis are good.

      Glutamine is good, but you can also get it from whey protein – which is much cheaper.

      Tyrosine and carnitine are good adders for fat loss, but certainly not needed. There are some health benefits to carnitine.

      I’ve seen some supporting evidence for CLA, but not enough reward for the price.

  • http://fullfat.ca Octavian

    I take Vitamin D during the winter months as I work indoors and don’t get a lot of sun exposure. I take cod liver oil sometimes too, depending if my diet was overly rich in omega-6 FAs that day.

    • Coach Calorie

      Cod liver oil is a great source of Vitamin D

  • http://www.jacobpt.co.uk Personal Trainer London

    I thought that was quite interesting although I am not entirely sold on the EFAs.

    • Coach Calorie

      Are you not sold on the idea of EFAs, or just the supplementation of them?

  • http://www.genecigs.com.au Alisha

    Hi CC,

    I’ve enjoyed reading your posts for a while now. Thank you for all the valuable info.

    The time is fast coming where I’m going to get off the artificial sweeteners. You know how you just feel that major lifestyle change approaching? A sense of “this can’t go on any longer”. Last time I felt this the cigarettes were gone within a month, never to return.

    I think that quitting sweeteners will be even harder because I’m so massively addicted to them. Also doesn’t help I just invested in 2kg of Myofusion Choc Peanut Butter flavour, lol. I’m looking at unflavoured protein powders online and am wondering what you recommend as the best? My goals are muscle size gain and fat loss. Should I choose a pure whey isolate or a blend for the best results? Does the brand matter? Low calorie zero carb powders would be good because as you suggested I can get carbs and sweeteners through blending in frozen berries.

    Thank you again for your help. :)

    • Coach Calorie

      Thanks Alisha, and good job working on removing artificial sweeteners.

      I would go with a pure whey isolate. It costs just a little bit more than a concentrate, but I’ve found that I digest it much better. I don’t pay too much attention to brand. I usually just get NOW Foods Whey Protein Isolate, 100% Pure 5Lb from Amazon.com

  • http://www.genecigs.com.au Alisha

    Thanks! Will pick some up next round of protein … maybe I can resell the Myofusion to a less discerning friend. :)

  • Miikka

    Hey CC,

    What do you think about using creatine and beta-alanine? I do crossfit and i have read that this two supplements could be useful. Creatine increase your explosiveness and beta-alanine blocks lactic acids.

    What i am conserned about is that do these really work and are these supplements healthy?

    Also casein protein conserns me, what is your opinion?

    • Coach Calorie

      Mikka, I personally don’t think anything else is needed. You should be able to get these nutrients from your diet. That being said, if you are low on creatine, I have seen studies that show an improvement in performance.

  • Ken Galek

    I haven’t been a workout type person since I was in high school, my metabolism is gone down hill and Ive been gaining weight. :)
    I’m hitting 40 now and have started working out again every day, lifting weights and running a mile.
    I take:
    Fish oil
    Vitamin B, C, & E

    I want to take some other supplements that might help my metabolism, and build lean muscle mass and help to lose weight. I was thinking I might add Whey into my supplements. How many times a day to you drink the whey, and should you drink it before and after a workout? Is Creatine even worth buying, I hear good things about it.

    • Coach Calorie

      I try to get as much protein from whole food sources as possible, but I do still use whey protein after my workout. Pre and post workout are ideal times for whey.

      There is mixed evidence for whether creatine works in the scientific literature. I don’t think it’s necessary.

  • Zach V.

    I’ve been working out for about 6 months now and i’m not really seeing the results. i work out on a work 3 of 1 schedule. I take a prenatal and eat a healthy protein rich diet. I’ve lost a lot of weight for sure. but no matter how many core exercises, conditioning routines i do nothing is happening. can you help?

    • Coach Calorie

      It takes more than calories to build muscle. Are you taking body composition measurements? Is your strength increasing?

  • http://jamesl121@hotmail.com james

    hi cc
    im james just a few question u can help me out with mate, im weighting in at 100.8kg im 5ft 11 in height. i have good shoulder muscles but my beiceps let me down have a lot of fat around it and need to bulit muscle i have a lot of fat around my pecks (chest) I just want to Tone Up and bulk up on my arms and chest i feel down on my self can u help me out and tell my what exersices to do and how to lose the body fat i only have a bench at home nothing eles and dumbells Can u Help Me Please !!
    ..

    • http://jamesl121@hotmail.com james

      And What Supplyments would help me im putting in the work at home lifting weight but my recovery is slow and i feel weak when training after a few set off weights i need to tone up and lose the fat can u help me out please!!

    • Coach Calorie

      James, you need to focus on using compound exercises and good nutrition. Don’t worry about the supplements yet. Getting defined arms and pecs comes from dropping body fat. You aren’t going to “tone” those up with weight training. You can still get a great workout from bodyweight exercises. Here are 10 of my favorite – http://coachcalorie.com/best-bodyweight-exercises/

      • http://coachcalorie.com harsh

        hey cc doing great job
        this is harsh from india,want to ask u certain questions. I weigh 86 kg at 5″11′ after loosing 22 kg in 4 months
        using 2 fat burmer and a whey protein.But stiil have belly fat .how to loose it for 6 pecs? should i continue with which supplements? is there any long term side effects?As an engineering student i can only train
        for 3-4 day.need ur help.
        thank you
        harsh

        • Coach Calorie

          Harsh, the supplements I recommended in the article are the only ones I use. If you can’t get all your nutrients in with those, then your nutrition is lacking. No need for fat burners.

  • ben

    Coach Calorie,

    I am a 6’0 170 athlete (basketball) I have a specific lifting regimen i follow. I was curious to see if you can help me with a performance stack because I feel like I am wasting money at GNC buying vitapaks and clas and all that stuff. I am a pretty lean kid, with a descent diet. Obviously diets most important, but I am not fat what at all, but want to stay lean, and lose more fat and gain muscle. what should I use throughout the day?

    1. gnc amp wheybolic protein
    2. BCAA
    3. Ripped Vitapaks

    I was wondering if you can help me figure out another performance stack, which includes building muscle, and losing fat and having a nice lean look still.

    Thank you

    • Coach Calorie

      Hi Ben, I wouldn’t waste my money at GNC. When I was younger I tried all the supplements. Some worked and some didn’t, but what I found later in life was that all those supplements were being used as a crutch for a sub par diet.

      The 3 supplements I recommended in the article are all that I recommend and use. Unless you have a hormone deficiency, you should have no problem reaching the physique you want.

  • http://coachcalorie.com harsh

    and yes i am complete vegetarian not even egg.

  • Carol

    Tony, Thanks for the constant Motivation and Education!
    Happy Healthy New Year!

  • http://www.coachcalorie.com/ Coach Calorie

    Sure thing Carol. Thanks for reading!

  • http://www.facebook.com/katie.guth Katie Guth

    Is taking women multi vit better then taking an overall vit. Or should I just buy the centrum. Is that all I should take a day or is there a group of vit. I know I lack in the right nutr. all day so I want to buy vit to help as I am working on getting healthier food in my diet. Some people take like 4 dif vit a day. So cunfused

  • http://www.coachcalorie.com/ Coach Calorie

    Hi Katie, I think that’s overkill, and if someone feels they need that many different vitamins, then I think they should take a closer look at their nutrition. One regular centrum vitamin should be plenty for anybody. Everything else is just marketing. Ideally, you wouldn’t need it at all, and you would get all your nutrients from whole foods.

    • http://twitter.com/MadMamaof4 Melissa Madorma

      My question is small intestine absorption and free radical creation. Centrum has not denied that they create free radicals, and cannot say how much of their product is actually absorbed into the blood stream. How can you suggest a product with these issues?

  • http://www.facebook.com/stacey.purnellmckinney Stacey Purnell McKinney

    Calorie Coach you are seriousy recommending centrum vitamins????? I love your information but WOW! Have you read the ingredient list of Centrum vitamins? If you haven’t please do so! Why do we need hydrogenated palm oil, talc, Blue #2, Yellow #6, etc, etc, etc in our vitamins??? Might as well take NONE

  • http://www.coachcalorie.com/ Coach Calorie

    Stacey, you know what, you’re right! Honestly, it never even crossed my mind that a vitamin pill would have “anti-vitamins”, but they do.

    That was a great catch, and I’m going to edit the article. It just goes to show you that you have to check the ingredients of EVERYTHING these days.

    • Luanne

      Alive vitamins are supposed to be good and good value too.

  • JustStarting

    How do you consume the whey protein? What do you mix it with?

    • http://www.coachcalorie.com/ Coach Calorie

      I put it in my protein smoothie and mix it with water frozen banana, and oatmeal. Really though, any combination of fruit mixed with it works well.

  • http://thesoapboxblog.com/ Neel Joshi

    Usually women’s multivitamins contain iron, while men’s/general health multivitamins don’t. You can of course supplement the iron separately, or just make sure to get enough in your diet. It’s possible women’s vitamins also have more calcium/vitamin D to promote bone health but I’m not sure on that.

  • http://www.coachcalorie.com/ Coach Calorie

    Melissa, you’re never going to get full absorption from any multi-vitamin. In regards to centrum, that has been removed from the list because it contains food dyes. Do you have a product to recommend?