Update: Supplements – What to Take, and Why

Supplements are common ways that athletes increase their benefits from exercise. They can make the difference between a fit, lean physique, and a slightly doughy one (for lack of better words). But they can also help improve general nutrition and healthy eating. With this being said, keep in mind that nothing beats a clean diet and exercise. Supplements should be used to assist with goals, not take the place of healthy eating and physical activity.

A common question, is whether to take supplements in liquid form vs. a pill. Your body will absorb 98% of a liquid supplement, while sometimes only absorbing 3-20% of a pill. However, pills can be great if you can’t stomach the liquid, or for a grab and go type lifestyle. If opting for pills, look for those that come in capsules (think those clear plastic pills that are 2 halves joined in the middle, versus the hard pills with no coating).


A multivitamin should be taken first thing in the morning. I like to take mine after my first couple bites of breakfast, because I get stomach pain if I take it on an empty stomach. Your body needs13 essential vitamins to function, and adding a multivitamin to your daily routine assures that you get everything you need. Remember – it’s always best to get all your nutrients from whole foods, but a multivitamin is a good SUPPLEMENT to aid in your diet.

Fish Oil:fish oil

Taken in the morning, and/or with meals. Fish oil is comprised of essential fats (aka – fats that your body can’t produce on it’s own). Fish oil helps stabilize insulin; so that dietary simple sugars are stored as energy instead of fat. Fish oil can also help preserve muscle (ie – if you don’t work out daily, you will maintain your gains through your off days). The recommended dose of fish oil is 220 mg of EPA and 220 mg of DHA per day. Fish oil is sensitive to sunlight/oxygen, so look for a dark glass bottle, and a smaller bottle if possible (the more you open it for a serving, the more oxygen gets in). Krill oil is less sensitive to oxygen/light so it’s a great option.

bcaaBCAAs (Branch Chain Amino Acids):

Helps growth of muscle, fatigue, recovery. Last longer. BCAAs are great for helping maintain muscle mass while in a caloric deficit (help lose fat but maintain muscle). They may also help improve mood and increase workout intensity, because they compete with tryptophan, which is converted to serotonin in the brain. Serotonin can increase the feeling of fatigue (think turkey day naps), so BCAAs can combat that. The current suggested ratio is 2:1:1 (2 parts leucine, 1 part isoleucine, 1 part valine).


Key roll in metabolizing protein. Helps body release HGH which helps metabolize body fat, increase muscle growth. For non-weight lifting individuals, glutamine also plays key roll in immune system – used by white blood cells to fight off infection.


Take in the morning on empty stomach. It acts as natural fat burner, and transfers long-chain fatty acids, such as triglycerides, into cell mitochondria, where they may be oxidized to produce energy. L-Carnitine has also been shown to reduce fatigue and serve as an appetite suppressant as well.


There are multiple types of protein, the most commonly known being Whey – a fast acting milk-based protein that is best at supporting muscle gain. Other types of protein include casein (longer acting – perfect for that late night protein boost to get you through the night). Try to get protein from food sources, versus a protein shake or bar. Protein shakes are good additions but females should try to stay to 1/day at max. Any more than that may add fat as well. The average recommended daily intake for women is 1g per lb per day.


Creatine monohydrate is converted into creatine phosphate in the body to keep ATP levels up. This increases the muscles energy availability, enhancing the bodies ability to do more high intensity work. Creatine’s chemical properties mean that it carries a hydration shell. This increases the amount of water in muscles. Therefore, it’s recommended that extra water is consumed when taking creatine. If all the creatine isn’t absorbed, it floats around in body (bloat) until it’s removed in urine. Take before you exercise.


CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) is a fatty acid that has been shown to cause fat loss. It is found in dairy and red meat. CLA can help increase metabolism, and enhance muscle growth. Research does, however, show that the effects of CLA are most pronounced during the first 6 months of supplementation, and slowly plateaus for up to 2 years. CLA should be taken with each meal, and recommended doses range from 3.2 to 6.4g/day.

Fat Burners, pre-workouts, etc.

These are a category all their own, and I will go more in depth in my next post about them. Check out my post on Epiburn Pro, the newest fat-burning, appetite suppressant from USP Labs here.

Supplement Review: Epiburn Pro

Epiburn Pro is USP labs newest “weight management” supplement, being released about a year after Oxyelite Pro was taking off the market because it contained DMAA which the FDA deemed unsafe. I checked multiple websites for prices/availability of Epiburn Pro, and not surprisingly, the Vitamin Shoppe had it in stock, and for the cheapest price. I love the Vitamin Shoppe (and not just because I used to work there) because it’s always a great price, and they almost always have what I need in stock, unless it’s a rare product.

So, what is Epiburn Pro? 


Screen Shot 2014-08-07 at 7.10.10 PM100mg of caffeine: Research shows that 100mg-200mg of caffeine provides optimal levels for turnover in the body, speeding up metabolism. Research shows that 400mg of caffeine provides the same effect as 200mg, so more is not necessarily better here. Epiburn Pro uses caffeine as sort of a “jump start” to get the body revved up, so to speak, so the other included ingredients can work better.

Withania Somnifera (root) extract: This is also Screen Shot 2014-08-07 at 7.10.31 PMknown as ashwagandha root. Some studies have been done on this herb, and it’s ability to improve cardiovascular health as well as decrease anxiety. These studies have also seen a decrease in the weight of the people taking the supplement, even though they weren’t focused on their diet.

For you athletes out there, ashwagandha has been shown to improve sprint power output and velocity, as well as increase VO2max

Screen Shot 2014-08-07 at 7.10.48 PMOlea Europaea (leaf) extract: also known as olive leaf extract. helps oxidize LDL cholesterol, lower total cholesterol, lower blood pressure, increase insulin sensitivity, and lower overall blood glucose levels. These are the same reasons that olive oil is good for you, but the leaf extract contains more of the compounds, and therefore has a more profound effect

Screen Shot 2014-08-07 at 7.11.32 PMYohimbe (Pausinystalia Johimbe) (Bark) Extract: stimulates, burns fat, suppresses a
ppetite, AND is an aphrodisiac! It boosts lipolysis (the breakdown of fat), and increases the amount of free fatty acids in the blood during and after exercise. 

Screen Shot 2014-08-07 at 7.11.47 PMColeus Forskohlii (Root) Extract: This herb has become very popular in the weight loss community recently. It’s been shown to help reduce BMI (body mass index), assist in regional fat loss (which I don’t know if I necessarily agree is possible, but we’ll move on).

Nelumbo Nucifera (Seed) Extract: This ingredient is a little weird. It’s been shown to trigger the “fight or flight” resScreen Shot 2014-08-07 at 7.12.11 PMponse in your body. This may been a good thing for right be
fore a workout, because it gets your body revved up. It also releases free fatty acids for use as energy. 

While most of the ingredients don’t have exact amounts given on the bottle, there is little research that has been done to determine the optimal amount of each. Therefore, we have to assume that USP Labs put an ample amount of each in this product.

A lot of people will compare this product to Oxyelite Pro, however it is a different type of product.

Epiburn Pro boasts the ability to both block fat uptake from the digestive system, as well as promote the release of fat from fat cells to be used as energy. The majority of the ingredients are meant for this purpose. Other than that, there is caffeine, and then ingredients that promote an increase in thermoregulation temperature, and ingredients that provide focused energy (unlike the jittery energy you might experience from too much caffeine).

Let’s get down to it:

What I think: I have taken Epiburn Pro for 6 straight days now. I quit drinking all other forms of caffeine, as suggested… So, no coffee, soda, tea, etc. I did have a decaf coffee one night, but other than that, I went cold turkey. I am used to drinking a solid 16oz cup of coffee a morning, and replacing that with Epiburn Pro seemed to keep the caffeine headaches at bay. The energy I have is much more focused and “useful” vs. the sometimes jittery caffeine energy I sometimes get, especially if I don’t eat anything.

The first day I didn’t notice much difference in energy or appetite, but after the 2nd day, I started having fewer cravings for food, and really only felt hungry when I was truly hungry, vs. just being bored. I have been eating smaller meals, and feeling fuller sooner as well. Now, this may all be mental, and just a placebo effect, but if it works, it works.

Update: I’ve been taking Epiburn Pro for a few weeks now. I am starting to feel a little tired throughout the day, but have still not upped my dose to 2 pills in the morning. I will begin taking 2 this week, on a day I’m not working (just in case). I still have no headaches or jitters, although I feel as though the affects might be decreasing, and I feel myself needing a higher dose.

Overall, I loved my Oxyelite, and this will never be that, but it is the best alternative I’ve found so far. It costs roughly $39 for a bottle of 90 pills, and at this time I take 1 pill a day, every morning 30 minutes before breakfast with a large glass of water. This means I am paying less per day than buying my usual coffee, so I’m also saving money which is awesome! Would I recommend this product to a friend? Yes. Do I think it’s a godsend product and everyone should try it? Maybe not, but I think I’m still comparing it to Oxyelite in my head.

Just for comparison, these are the other supplements I’ve tried as well:

Who SHOULDN’T take Epiburn Pro? Anyone who is caffine sensitive, or allergic to any of hte ingredients found in the product. Anyone who is on a blood pressure medication, a heart medication. Anyone who is pregnant or nursing. 

All information comes directly from personal experience, EpiBurn Pro bottle, or this blog post: https://blog.priceplow.com/supplement-news/epiburn-pro