Supplements I Like

evening vitamins

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.

evening vitaminsDIM

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.

Fred Flintstone Gummy Vitamins

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 🙂


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5 Responses to “Supplements I Like”

  1. Abi Ruscombe-KingFebruary 7, 2015 at 12:31 PM #

    Hi Rachael
    Thanks for this. There’s sooo much unsubstantiated nonsense out there about supplements that its good to hear a more science based opinion!
    Arginaid sounds intriguing. I’m not sure we have something similar in the UK.
    I’ve just started with Magnesium, but am unclear on dosage for lifting recovery? I’m a shorty like you, how much do you take?
    I like to take a high dose Vit B when I remember, for nervous system and energy support. And to offset the odd glass of wine….
    Love the site

    • Rachael KeilinFebruary 9, 2015 at 8:49 AM #

      Abi, thanks!!! Look for arginine supplements in the pill form at vitamin shops (in the US, I’d say GNC but I’m not sure what’s available in Europe). Arginaid may also be available via Amazon. I like it because it tastes like Tang which is kind of yummy 🙂 I take 500mg or so of magnesium per day which is well in excess of the US RDA but seems to work for me. If you take it in the citrate form, though, I’ll reiterate that you want to start low and go slow because the diarrhea can be….. impressive. I love the B vitamins, too! But I get mine from Monster (B3, B6, B12) so I don’t supplement additionally. But it’s a very good point!

  2. anjuliFebruary 12, 2015 at 8:20 PM #

    Thanks Rachael for this list 🙂
    I take the calmag like you but, I have to go slow with it. I remember last year I started with 1/4 tsp and soon switched to 1 tsp…it bloated me up seriously. I’m not sure if it was just me or is that a normal response to it. I stopped taking it for a while after that. I started it back again couple weeks ago to get my sleep back on schedule. I learned my lesson therefore, I’m going to very slowly increase my dosage this time :).

    About Zinc, do you recommend it for everyone? Certain time of the day? I’ll be 39 soooon. I’m going to look for Arginaid and get some.
    Thanks for this list 🙂

    • Rachael KeilinFebruary 13, 2015 at 10:24 AM #

      Definitely yes to the zinc for most people! Studies have shown that zinc helps with aromatase inhibition which keeps testosterone from converting to estradiol (so helps keep T levels up), helps convert the thyroid hormone T4 to T3 which is the more active form of the hormone, helps intestinal permeability (there was one interesting study with kids with diarrhea), helps repair acute alcohol induced liver damage (after the occasional Red Bull and vodka fest) and has a benefit for cardiac health as well. BUT all of those studies use a range of 15-30mg of zinc per day which is hard to get by diet alone. Lamb, spinach, oysters, cashews, beef, cocoa and pumpkin seeds all have “high” levels of zinc. But there are only 14mg in 6 oz of beef so to get 30-50mg you’d have to be eating a lot. Personally I take 36mg per day as supplements and the rest in my diet.

  3. anjuliFebruary 16, 2015 at 7:07 PM #

    Awesome!! Thank you 🙂 I’ll add zinc to my list.

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