I’ve often been asked by other women in lifting groups or in forums what supplements I take. Let me be the first to say that as an older female athlete I’m willing to try anything not on the WADA banned list if there is some proof that it will actually raise testosterone or growth hormone naturally.
Alas, the list of actually effective supplements is fairly short. So forthwith, my daily supplements.
Let me start with caffeine (and my utterly adorable photobombing fur baby, Taffy). I don’t really like pre-workouts because they make me jittery which makes technical lifts like the snatch harder, not easier. But I do like to drink a Monster about an hour before lifting which gives me a little caffeine boost. I prefer this sugar free version mainly for the taste (which is actually divine, like Fresca’s grown up grapefruity sister). It only has 140mg of caffeine which is less than a mug of brewed coffee. The perception is that Monster is one step away from meth, but this is absolutely not true. It’s basically two Coke’s worth of caffeine, not a crack pipe.
Either right before or during a workout, I’ll drink BCAAs (branched chain amino acids) to improve (hopefully) muscle growth especially since I often work out minimally fed.
Immediately after working out, I drink Arginaid. It’s 4g of arginine, an important amino acid in the nitric oxide pathway. I came to love Arginaid when I was working in a wound care clinic. I saw some really remarkable wound closures after starting patients on it twice daily – wounds that had previously failed to heal in months of therapy. My supposition is that since muscle growth comes from tissue injury (exercise) and subsequent repair, why not give the cells the building blocks they need for that repair? Subjectively it seems to have helped recovery tremendously, especially since I’ve upped the volume to daily training.
My evening regimen consists of fish oils to aid in recovery, boost mental prowess, prevent heart disease, make me leap over tall buildings in a single bound, etc. etc (insert all the magical claims made about fish oil in the past here). There’s a great t-shirt that says, “if it can’t be fixed with squats and fish oil, you’re going to die”. If a t-shirt says it’s good, it’s gotta be good for you, right?
Nighttime also means Vitamin D because I beat most vampires for lack of sun exposure. I wear SPF 30 every day and have for two decades. This is why I’m also mistaken for being 30. I’m not going to change, so I supplement with vitamin D.
Zinc and magnesium are two of the only supplements shown to help testosterone production so you bet I’m going to take them. The magnesium in the form of magnesium citrate as found in Natural Calm also helps sleep (which is why I drink it at night) and “regularity”. You’ve got to be careful with it for this very reason. Overdo it on the first day and the next day you won’t get out of the bathroom for very long. Start with a judicious dose and work your way up.
DIM is to help prevent breast cancer as it (in theory) helps shunt estrogen metabolism toward a “better”, less carcinogenic form of estrogen (there are three naturally occurring forms). It is found in broccoli in case you want to eat your supplements instead of swallowing them as pills. DIM has also been used by some women who have been diagnosed as “estrogen dominant”, i.e. their estrogen: progesterone ratio is off kilter causing a myriad of different symptoms. DIM is purported to help some of these symptoms.
Ibuprofen is my bestest friend. Let’s not kid ourselves here. I’m 46 years old and shit hurts. My shoulders take turns as to who wants to be the problem child. I think my knees have secretly called adult protective services behind my back. If I took time off for every ache and pain, I’d never lift. So I take my ibuprofen when I need it, sit in warm tubs or take hot showers and see a massage therapist regularly.
When I remember it (which isn’t very often, maybe twice per week), I’ll eat two Fred Flintstone gummy vitamins. They’re yummy and I figure they fill in any nutritional gaps I miss.
So there you have it. Looking at them all together, it seems like a lot. But they each have a purpose and it doesn’t take much time nor offer much risk, so why not try them?
What supplements do you take? Let me know! Let’s learn from each other 🙂