There are some supplements I can recommend. One that works for sure is a protein drink after a workout. The role of protein in recovery is well documented.
Of course you shouldn't waste your money on any supplement until your diet is in order. Fortunately I have kicked my Krispy Kreme habit.
Not a supplement - and no I didn't eat the whole box
I know there is no magic bullet. Lets face it, most supplement ads are for suckers and uninformed idiots. There are a lot of uninformed idiots in Ironman - me being one of them. I have wasted a lot of money on fad supplements.
And I think I'm doing it again. Why do I keep getting suckered in? I'm not doing Ironman anymore, but I am weight lifting. I know that weightlifting buddies John and Kiven are taking Creatine and Arginine and they are getting stronger than me in the gym. I guess I am somewhat competitive and it drives me crazy when John can lift something I can not.
I think Creatine works and there is a lot of scientific data to show that it isn't harmful. Well that's a plus anyway. A couple of Canadian scientists have really interesting nutrition and supplement websites:
Dr. Dave Barr is a pretty cool guy and his website is very informative. And Dr. John Berardi.
Go Canada - we know our supplements. No Ben Johnson jokes please.
I am now taking Creatine and Arginine. Why am I taking them and do these supplements work?
Creatine is actually being used to treat a variety of medical conditions such as Muscular Dystrophy and Lou Gerhig's disease.
It helps restore ATP which is used up when the muscles fire. Unfortunately studies indicate that it will not increase my running or cycling ability.
But I believe it does allow my weight training exercises to be pushed further than without it. And thus allows me to lift heavier weights. There is no real harm in taking it other than the fact it is expensive and it irritates my stomach.
Arginine is more contentious.
Here is a quicky Biochemistry/Physiology lesson on Arginine:
Arginine -> Nitric Oxide -> Vasodilator -> Nutrient Delivery -> Muscle Growth and Strength.
Nitric Oxide eh? Why don't I just inhale deeply from a car exhaust pipe? Not quite the same. Anyway, the point is that it is a vasodilator and is supposed to increase blood flow to the muscles.
The bad side is it inhibits platelet aggregation and could potentially interfere with blood clotting mechanisms.
Does it work? I think it does. I get such a pump when I take it - a pump is when your muscles are enlarged and your veins are popping out. I'm sure women are really attracted to this look. ha ha
Anyway, it could very well be the placebo effect. I just paid $60 for the bottle of Arginine and I really want to believe in its effectiveness.
It's probably not going to hurt me but it isn't as proven as Creatine.