THE SUPPS I SPENT ON
This isn’t an article on what supplements are best for what. This is more on how silly I have been in the past in spending my somewhat hard-earned British Pounds, US Dollars and now Ringgit in the hope that I find that magical powder or pill. I mentioned somewhat hard-earned money because the obsession to buy these supplements began when I was still a student thus, I was spending daddy’s money.
To date, I have been working out for almost 25 years and the first purchase started almost immediately. I still remember the first time I walked into a GNC shop. It’s like a 3-year old walking into a candy store. So many brands. So many fancy words. Then come this buff dude in his tight red polo shirt. First, he would offer assistance then he will just willingly give advice and the only think running through my head as he was talking is I’ll have what you’re having. Like it or not, you will end up leaving the shop with something. And don’t forget the annual membership you just signed up for because guess what, you will be coming again. Congratulations, you have just become a performance enhancing supplements junkie.
My first ever purchase was an EAS Myoplex. It’s a meal replacement shake. It came in a box of 10 packs. Granted the shake was super yummy but still at that time I wasn’t quite sure what it was meant to do for me. Mind you at this time there was no Google nor YouTube. The only way to research is to hope that the product you bought is being reviewed by Muscle & Fitness, Flex or some other bodybuilding magazine at that time. Otherwise, the oh wise one, was your local GNC buff dude.
Typical of any noob junkie, you would want more. Not more shakes but more of whatever to complement your now habitual, I can’t-live-without Rich Chocolate shake. All of a sudden you stop gawking at photos of those bodybuilder models in the magazines and start reading the supplements section twice over. The next time I went to GNC, I didn’t allow the buff dude to smother me with a sales pitch. Instead I went in with a direct question. I asked where the creatine and glutamine were. And those were the two I went home with. Of course, the buff dude suggested which brand to buy but as much as I did spend a lot of time comparing the labels, I now know that they are all mostly comparable with each other. All that matters are the price and perhaps how cool the packaging is because they are like mantelpieces in your kitchen.
A few years went by and the consumption didn’t slow down. I did try a lot of different brands and thanks to the reward points earned, I stayed loyal to GNC throughout those years. Then the internet came about and researching for the next best thing is so much easier. This is when I started to be more adventurous. It was also the beginning of testosterone boosters and nitric oxide as pre-workouts. How silly was I to be going on testosterone booster at the age of 25. Did the buff dude stop me? No, sir. Between the ones I have been taking and these revolutionary ones I just bought, my kitchen top is beginning to look like someone who just had a triple bypass.
When I returned to KL, buying supplements weren’t that easy. Yes, there was GNC but the items they carry were fairly tame compared to what I was used to back in London. Thank God for bodybuilding.com. That supps purchase must also have been my first experience of online shopping and boy, can you really get carried away with it. You also quickly realise the supplements prices in Malaysia are highly inflated. If you know what you want then it is so much cheaper to buy directly from US even with shipping cost included. Just don’t import pills on your own. They will be confiscated by our Customs Deparrtment. I found out the hard way. Also be prepared to buy in bulk as the last thing you want is to keep ordering when it’s time replenish. Afterall there will always be those “Buy 2, Get 1 Free” offers anyway.
Nowadays, consumers are spoilt for choice when it comes to where to buy supplements. The uninformed will always go for GNC but they will soon realise they are super pricey hence are able to offer discounts north of 25% at every purchase. Ego Nutrition came around about 10 years ago and gave GNC a run for their money for a while but their obscure locations in shopping malls made them almost invisible. Then came the parallel importers and online shops. Now supplements are accessible at affordable prices. And with supplement reviews in the thousands on YouTube you are sure to be making an informed decision every time you walk into a supplement shop or visit an online shop but still there’s always that inclination to buy more than you should.
There was also a time when I discovered I was lactose and soy intolerant so I’ve decided to purchase one of the first few brands that came out with pea protein. Oh. My. God. Suffice to say I didn’t finish that tub. It was literally a supplement misadventure.
So with all the mistakes and misadventures I’ve had, what am I on now? Just multivitamins, fish oil, whey protein and creatine. Let me explain why? You need your vitamins to stay healthy. Remember, consistency is key to achieving your fitness goals. You can’t train if you’re not healthy. Nuff said. Fish oil is essential for brain and heart health. Some say it goes towards lubricating your joints too. Sure, I’ll take that. Whatever it is, your body can’t produce enough essential fatty acids so supplementation is required. Whey protein isn’t necessary but sometimes you just don’t have the time to be eating whole, natural protein at every single meal. I’ve dedicated drinking whey as my pre-workout and pre-bedtime shakes. Those are the two times I can’t be arsed to prepare something wholesome. Creatine is entirely optional and it’s the only “performance enhancing” supplement in my rotation at the moment for two simple reasons only. First, it has stood the test of time and has had thousands of research done of them and has been widely accepted to be legit. Second, its job is to preserve, repair and grow muscle in its own mysterious ways and that’s what anyone of the age 40 and above should be concerned about.
I am not saying the rest of what is available is bull crap. They have their purpose but sometimes it is an overkill for someone who just wants to lose a bit of weight or get toned to be taking way too much. The solution isn’t in what supps you take. It is in your perseverance and determination to achieve your goal. There isn’t a shortcut to it. I learnt this the expensive but interesting way.
At the end of the day, supplementation goes hand in hand with fitness training. Not because it is necessary but because it just is. Long gone are the days when taking supps is considered taboo. Brands like Herbalife and Isagenix have come into the market and directed their attention to the ones who are sceptical about the hardcore brands GNC are selling. They come in with their soft approach and appeal to the housewives. They even guarantee weight loss by just consuming their products without having to break a sweat. A jacked 21-year old dude may be bragging about his latest Muscletech whey protein shake but it contains just as much protein, carbs and totalcalories as the 45-year old housewife who’s drinking a Herbalife meal replacement shake.
The other thing they also have in common is the steadily growing collection of shakers. As do I.
Till next time, persevere and stay determined.