Supplements that don’t suck part 2

Oh hey there. In the last installment of this series, we covered the current state of the supplement industry (a disaster), and why taking creatine is a good idea. In this installment, we’ll be looking at two more supplements that are easy on the wallet, but give huge rewards. If you’ve not read the first post, go give it a look.


Forget what Chest Day Mcgee down at the GNC told you about whatever bug based protein that the kipping muscle-up crowd is in to these days, and save the hemp protein for the vegans. Whey is the king of proteins.

How can I make such a claim? Let me count the reasons.

  • Whey protein increases more satiety more than any other protein supplement, even casein.1
  • Whey protein has more of the BCAAs that drive muscle protein synthesis, like leucine, isoleucine, and valine than other protein supplements.2
  • Whey protein has a higher concentration of essential amino acids than other protein supplements.3
  • Whey protein increases satiety for longer than other protein supplements, leaving you feeling fuller for longer.4
  • Whey protein is cheap

So what can whey do for you?

Quite a bit, actually.

For most of us, hitting daily protein can be a pain in the ass. If you manage to do it with whole foods, more power to you, but for we mere mortals, having a way to quickly and cheaply supplement your daily protein needs can be a godsend. Whey bought in bulk from an online retailer runs as cheap as 1 pence per gram of protein. Barring foods like liver from non-organic cows (which you shouldn’t be eating for health reasons), canned tuna (which you shouldn’t be eating for ethical reasons), and battery farmed chicken scraps (both, plus ew gross), there is no cheaper form of whole protein on the market.

Whey is also a time saver. 1.5 scoops of whey and a flapjack has been my go to road meal for a while now, netting 45 grams protein, 53 grams carbs, and 18 grams fat, not bad for 2 minutes work and a pound or so.

You can also get fairly creative with whey. Proats should be one of your go to breakfasts, and if you’ve not tried them, you really haven’t lived. Simply make porridge, leave it to cool for a little while, and then add 1-2 scoops of whatever flavour whey you choose (chocolate works best). Whey goes well when mixed with a bit of not too hot coffee, and you can even add it to cold cereal.

People with lactose intolerance can have issues with whey concentrate, so I would suggest they get their hands on whey isolate. A bit more expensive, but still does the trick. Those unfortunate few with an allergy to beta-lactoglobulin, alpha-lactalbumin, or bovine serum albumin are shit out of luck though. Your best bet would be to play around with finding a good rice/pea protein mix. The amino profile isn’t as good as whey, but it’s not bad compared to all your other options, and pretty cheap to boot.

Finally, a note on whey farts: they happen. The best way to avoid them is not to take whey on an empty stomach, or to get whey isolate rather than concentrate.


Vitamin D, though a little pricier than the other supplements we are covering, is on this list because of how beneficial it is, and how much it sucks to be deficient. Vitamin D deficiency has symptoms including:

  • “Rickets, a childhood disease characterized by impeded growth, and deformity, of the long bones.”5
  • “Osteomalacia a bone-thinning disorder that occurs exclusively in adults and is characterized by proximal muscle weakness and bone fragility.”6
  • “Osteoporosis, a condition characterized by reduced bone mineral density and increased bone fragility.”7
  • “Muscle aches and weakness (in particular proximal limb girdle).”8
  • “Muscle twitching.”9
  • “Light-headedness.”10

Worse still, “pilot studies and regional monitoring suggests that vitamin D deficiency is likely to affect at least half the UK’s white population, up to 90% of the multi-ethnic population, and a quarter of all children living in Britain.”11

While it is tempting to blame the UK’s “unique” weather for these rates, the problem may have more to do with our current lifestyle and less with the fact that it’s always cloudy. Given that vitamin D deficiency rates are high in Miami,12 and that more than a third of Australians 25 years and under are deficient,13 the problem may stem more from staying indoors all day than from the local climate.

But really, who could blame us?

So what will supplementing do for you, asides from preventing rickets? Quite a bit. Before reading this list, please keep in mind that the evidence presented below merely shows a correlation between vitamin D levels in serum and the effect noted, not a causal link between supplementing and the effect. There is a chance that any one of these studies could simply be noting a coincidence. Or, it could be the case that raising your vitamin D serum levels will confer these benefits. Given the data, I think the latter of these possibilities is more likely, but the caveat seemed like best practice. In any case, vitamin D:

  • Reduces all cause mortality (the chance that you will die, for any given reason, at any given time)14,15
  • An increase in testosterone and a decrease in sex hormone binding protein, “even after BMI, smoking, alcohol, beta-blockers and diabetes were controlled for.”16,17
  • Inversely correlated with risk of breast cancer.18
  • Reduces symptoms of depression in teenagers.19
  • Protects against multiple sclerosis.20
  • May improve sleep quality.21
  • Reduces the risk of cardiac disease.22

Further, low vitamin D is hypothesized to increase the risk of obesity, though the link is pretty tenuous.23


Vitamin D, like fish oil, should be taken with a form of fat to improve bioavaliability, or as part of a meal containing fat. Though the current USFDA recommendation is to get 400-800IU/day, this is barely enough for maintenance, and those with suboptimal levels need to supplement more aggressively. The upper limit for safe supplementation is 10,000IU/day, and the lowest effective dose range is 1000-2000IU/day.24 To be honest, pull a number out of your hat, on the high side between those ranges, and go from there. I have personally taken 35,000IU/day, twice a week, since I generally do what Charles Poliquin tells me to, but since I can’t find any hard data on it, I wouldn’t suggest it to others. I’m mentioning it simply as a way to tell you that you shouldn’t worry about going up to 10,000IU/day. Do not go wild and start taking 35,000IU/day every day though, overdosing on vitamin D is no fun.

When buying vitamin D, make sure you’re getting cholacalciferol, and not ergocalciferol, since you get more bang for your buck with the former.

There is anecdotal evidence that taking vitamin D before bed may disrupt sleep,25 and since placebo has a 50% success rate, and you’ve just read this whole sentence, you should probably take it in the day.


In the next installment of this series, we’ll be looking at another two supplements before opening up to reader suggestions, which you can post on our facebook at

Thanks for reading!


Works Cited:

1, 2, 3, 4: Feigenbaum, Jordan. MD:
5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10: Retrieved March 9th, 2015
11, 13: Blair, Mitch. PhD: Action needed on Vitamin D
12: Gonzalez, Diana: Are People Short on Vitamin D in Sunny South Florida
14: Melamed ML, et al. 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels and the risk of mortality in the general population. Arch Intern Med. (2008)
15: Ford ES, et al. Vitamin D and all-cause mortality among adults in USA: findings from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey Linked Mortality Study. Int J Epidemiol. (2011)
17: Wehr E, et al. Association of vitamin D status with serum androgen levels in men. Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). (2010)
18: Garland CF, et al. Vitamin D and prevention of breast cancer: pooled analysis. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. (2007)
19: Högberg G, et al. Depressed adolescents in a case-series were low in vitamin D and depression was ameliorated by vitamin D supplementation. Acta Paediatr. (2012)
20: Salzer J1, et al. Vitamin D as a protective factor in multiple sclerosis. Neurology. (2012)
21: Gominak SC, Stumpf WE. The world epidemic of sleep disorders is linked to vitamin D deficiency. Med Hypotheses. (2012)
22. Wang L, et al. Systematic review: Vitamin D and calcium supplementation in prevention of cardiovascular events. Ann Intern Med. (2010)
23. Foss YJ. Vitamin D deficiency is the cause of common obesity. Med Hypotheses. (2009).

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