Which Supplements Should You Take?

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Podcast, Supplements

If you have additional questions, please leave them below this post!

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I'll admit it. I've been accused of making things “too complex” when it comes to taking supplements, and generating tons of questions. So I answer all those questions and try to make things simpler for you in today's free audio download, in which listener Graeme asks me about nutrition supplement topics such as:

Which supplements should you take?

Should you take creatine?

Should you take glutamine?

Should you take fish oil?

What is a greens supplement?

Do fat burning supplements work?

Are liquid vitamins better than solid vitamins?

Who needs a multivitamin?

Do women need to take different types of supplements than men?

Which supplements are best for recovery?

What is the difference between amino acids and branched chain amino acids?

Which supplements are best for the immune system?

How do you choose a supplement protocol that is right for you?

During our discussion, Graeme and I reference the supplements at http://www.pacificfit.net (will open in a new window).

If you have additional questions, please leave them below!

Ask Ben a Podcast Question

29 thoughts on “Which Supplements Should You Take?

  1. Hannah Osterheim says:

    Hi Ben! I absolutely LOVE hearing about your routine & this podcast was so amazing to hear you talk about what you believe in most. With that being said, I was wondering if on a future Q&A podcast if you could talk about the best routine for someone who works out in the morning. Working the way I do, commuting, etc., it’s not really feasible to have a consistent 4pm workout schedule. Questions I have been wondering is how someone who works out in the morning should control carb loading? Or if they should at all? If so/if not, when to eat the most carbs, what do you do for the other meals? How to schedule out the supplements? etc etc. Thank you so much! Hannah

  2. waynesh says:

    Hi Ben, Are you able to fix the link to this podcast? I would really like to listen to it.


  3. Dayana says:

    Hi Ben, I would really love to listen to this podcast, but it is not working. Do you have a link where I can listening to it?
    Thank you !

    1. Hi Dayana,

      It looks like the link is broken, we'll get it fixed asap. In the mean time, everything I recommend is here: https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/ben-recommends

  4. Nathan says:

    Ditto what they said.. Would love to hear this podcast, or know which number transcript to download for the info! Thanks so much!

  5. Ben, did you ever get this problem fixed. Tried to listen to this podcast because I wanted to get your thoughts on Creatine before calling in and asking a question that you've already discussed many times. But, I can't get the episodes pre-142 either. Please advise. And your advice is always a huuuuge help in my training. Thank you!

  6. Alan Nelson says:

    Hi Ben,
    I'm a new listener and really enjoy your podcast, and was searching back to find some specific topics I was interested in hearing. This one would not play (computer and phone-file could not be found on either) and so I checked a few more and it looks like anything from Episode 142 and previous are not available. I was really hoping to hear this on, and episodes 139-142.

  7. I'll look into this ASAP!

  8. Ben,
    The podcast isn't playing?

  9. Steve Waller says:

    I saw that Chris McCormack and others are taking colostrum with good results. Any personal experience?

    1. Yes, I use it. I can't say I've noticed a HUGE difference yet. This is the stuff I've tried: http://www.pacificfit.net/supplements.php#colostr…

  10. High-Fiber Supplements

    Many triathletes utilize superfood blends or “greens” supplements, which contain ingredients like powdered broccoli, spirulina, kelp and inulin. While these can be beneficial nutrient-dense energy sources, the high fiber in these supplements will significantly slow gastric emptying, and may also cause gas, bloating or bowel movements. For this reason, their use prior to a workout or race will necessitate eating the pre-workout meal 1-2 hours earlier than usual, or taking much earlier in the day. Since fiber can decrease the absorption of fat, you may also benefit from taking a greens supplement at a different time of day as a fatty acid supplement. Finally, since many of these nutrients are stored by the body, it is fine to simply use a green supplement before bed, provided it does not contain caffeinated compounds like green tea or yerba mate extract.

    Take-Away Message: Take high-fiber containing supplements with the main pre-workout or pre-race meal, but move meal 3-4 hours prior to competition or exercise or take the high-fiber supplement early in the day prior to an afternoon or evening workout.

    Proteolytic Enzymes

    Proteolytic enzymes like bromelain, papain, trypsin and chymotrypsin are found in many recovery capsules and pills, and for recovery and anti-inflammation will work best on an empty stomach. If taken with a meal, these supplements simply serve as digestive enzymes, but will not significantly enhance muscle recovery.
    Take-Away Message: Take proteolytic enzymes on an empty stomach in the mid-morning or mid-afternoon, preferably after the day’s workout has already taken place.
    Probiotics like acidophilus and lactobacillus are important for a healthy digestive system and useful for treating Candida (a big problem in high-carbohydrate consuming triathletes) and for replenishing the intestinal flora, especially after taking prescription antibiotics. They should be taken on an empty stomach.
    Take-Away Message: Take probiotics at night, prior to bed, 2-3 hours after final meal of the day.


    The antioxidant family includes compounds such as coenzyme Q10, bioflavonoids and phytochemicals, quercetin, resveratrol, and Vitamin C and E (although the levels of Vitamin C and E in a typical multi-vitamin is relatively low compared to an antioxidant supplement). Interestingly, several studies have observed that antioxidant intake prior to exercise actually decreases insulin sensitivity and eliminates activation of the body’s natural defense mechanism against oxidative damage. By shutting down the body’s need to for natural antioxidant activity that helps adapt to stress and respond to exercise, antioxidant consumption can actually blunt the workout benefit. For this reason, antioxidant beverages and capsules should be consumed only in moderation, and not as a consistent part of the pre-workout or during workout nutrition protocol.

    Take-Away Message: Take antioxidants with a pre-race meal, and only before very difficult workouts. Otherwise, limit antioxidant to low to moderate intake only, and attempt to consume as far as possible from an exercise session.

  11. Multi-Vitamins:

    The most commonly used supplement among both athletes and the general population, a multi-vitamin compound typically contains the major fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K and water soluble vitamins B and C. Compounds that contain fat-soluble vitamins should ideally be consumed with food that contains fat, since you absorb these vitamins best when animal or vegetable fat is present in the stomach.

    The B and C vitamins will often cause some mild nausea or acid sensitivity when taken on a light stomach, so they should also be consumed with a meal. However, a heavy, greasy meal can interfere with absorption of these vitamins. While this may seem this a paradox, since you just learned that fat soluble vitamins should be consumed with a fat based meal, the type of meal that would interfere with absorption of water soluble vitamins would be a butter soaked omelette served with gravy and sausage – a meal most triathletes aren’t consuming on a typical day.

    One exception, vitamin B12, is actually best absorbed on an empty stomach. So if you are taking an energy powder or energy drink, which usually contain high doses of B12, you’d be best served by using it in the mid-morning or afternoon on an empty stomach, or mid-training session or race.

    Take-Away Message: Take a multi-vitamin with your main meal of the day, unless that meal is directly prior to a workout or race, in which case you should take your multivitamin with dinner.

    Fish Oil
    The beneficial cardiorespiratory effects of fish oil are proven, but fish oil, or any other omega-3 fatty acid supplement, doesn’t need to be taken immediately prior to a workout or race for this effect. As a matter of fact, while carbohydrates empty from the stomach 30 minutes to 2 hours after consumption, protein can take 1.5 to 6 hours, while fat can take much longer, since only 10 grams of fat can be processed by the digestive tract each hour. For this reason, fatty acid supplements like fish oil may actually cause gastric distress and indigestion when consumed immediately prior to a workout or race. For this reason, you should take a fish oil at the same time you take your multivitamin, with your primary meal of the day.
    Take-Away Message: Take fish oil with your main meal of the day, unless that meal is directly prior to a workout or race, in which case you should take your fish oil with dinner.
    For many endurance athletes, and especially female athletes, iron may be a necessary supplement. It should ideally be taken on an empty stomach for the best absorption, and taken separately from other supplements that may interfere with absorption, especially calcium and vitamin E. Some individuals experience nausea or upset stomach with iron intake, in which case a very light meal would be acceptable.
    Take-Away Message: Take iron in the mid-morning or mid-afternoon on an empty stomach, and include a light snack if you experience stomach upset.
    Calcium and magnesium are the two most common and beneficial minerals for active individuals. During exercise, energy is produced by the conversion of fatty acids and amino acids with calcium-dependent enzymes, and magnesium should always accompany calcium in an approximate ratio of 1:2 prior to a workout. Since absorption of both minerals is enhanced by consuming with meals, your pre-workout meal is the perfect time for mineral intake. Both calcium and magnesium can also assist with sleep and muscle relaxation, so prior to bed or with dinner, additional magnesium supplementation can be beneficial.
    Take-Away Message: Take minerals with the main pre-workout or pre-race meal, and take magnesium again before bed.

  12. Joe Blalock says:

    Ben, can you comment on the timing of when to take the various supplements? I'm training for a 70.3 and have been listening to your podcasts to help out with nutrition in general and with training. I've decided to start with a few of the supplements you suggest but I'm not sure if there is a specific time to take them.

    I almost always work out in the morning. I'm thinking on a harder workout day I'd have a 5 MAP capsules, a banana & some water pre workout: Gu Roctane & water during: and 5 MAP, Whey, Recoverease with some carbs like oatmeal & berries post-workout.

    The other supplements I'm planning on starting are Enerprime, Vitamin D & Fish Oil, and Solar Synergy Antioxidants, and Natural Calm Magnesium (before bed). Where do the rest fit in time-wise relative to meals or workouts? Are there any that shouldn't be taken together?

    Also, would I need to take Enerprime on a day that I used the Living Fuel Supergreens as one of my meals? I think there's enough overlap that I wouldn't need the Enerprime.

  13. David says:

    As someone who has a heart for the wellness of others just like yourself, I would like to share the following information. From listening to a past podcast, I know you understand the importance of glutathione in the body (anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and detoxifier). I would love to share with you and your listeners a scientifically proven supplement that has been shown to increase GSH levels by 276% in 60 days. This was done with a randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled cross-over study. This product is not glutatione itself, but rather the building block for your body to make it naturally. I believe in the body's ability to heal itself and facilitating it to do so by the nutritional choices we make each day. Thank you for your consideration.

  14. Gerry says:

    Hi Ben,

    Can you do a similar audio interview for your nutrition and hydration regimen and what products and dosages you use during a 70.3 race and for a 140.6 race?

  15. Chris says:

    Great Show! Thanks! I just decided to try Enerprime, Recover Ease and Lean Factor, (as well as some Oil Of Oregano, Living Fuel Super Greens, and delta E under the "Why not" rationale)…

    I have another couple of questions, what are your feelings on some non Pacific Fitness Supplements? Creatine, ZMA, and those Tim Ferris recommends experimenting with (Alpha Lionic Acid, Garlic Extract, Green Tea Extract, and Policosanol)?


    How much damage am I doing by drinking alcohol heavily ~once per week? I am 29, I've seen large fat loss improvements of late (I am down to ~7.9% BF from ~20%), but have not seen the muscle growth I would like to see.

    Similarly, how much damage am I doing by not sleeping enough?


    1. Lots of questions here, Chris…

      Over at http://quickanddirtytips.com/health-fitness/exercise do a search for muscle building supplements. I cover creatine and some more "Tim Ferriss esque" supplements in those podcast episodes. I've also got a good one on fat burners over there.

      I used to "binge" once a week, usually Fridays, when i was in college. When I started cutting for a bodybuilding show that was the first thing I cut out and my body fat dropped immediately. Tons of reasons, but mostly that alcohol can be very acidic and very catabolic.

      And not sleeping enough holds you back in many aspects of life, from memory to focus to muscle. An entire book could be written on it, but just start right here on this site and type in "sleep"

  16. Jeff Hoening says:

    Informative show, Ben, thanks. Suggest that you organize your products a bit more clearly at Pacific Fit. Specifically, highlight those supplements that you recommend for EVERYONE, EVERY DAY (e.g. greens, fish oil, vitamin d). These should be highlighted and organized as such. Other categories: athletic-specific (Recoverease, etc.). Weight loss/fat loss. Condition specific – joint health, imune system boost, prostate health, pain mgmt. Thanks for the great content. When you open your mouth, I'm listening. Best to you.

  17. feerlessfood says:


    I recently heard an interview with a doctor who a strong proponent of Krill oil over fish oil, stating that much greater benefits and healthy nutrients. Do you know anything about this and which would be better to take?

    1. Jeff Hoening says:

      Just my two cents but when was the last time you sat down for a big plate of krill? Quite simply, krill is not designed as food for humans, unlike fish, flax, coconut or other oils. Krill is food for whales. Your doc likely fell for the hype with companies trying to get in on the Omega-3 freight train with something different. Stick with what's proven clinically and just makes sense, a high quality fish oil.

      1. feerlessfood says:

        Nice though Jeff, I agree.

    2. I agree with Jeff but there is more to it then whale food!

      As you will see you have hit a sore point with me about the supplement industry and the exact reason why Bioletics was founded! Krill oil is the poster child of why it is important to assess your levels to insure optimal ranges!!

      I was very intrigued initially when trying to decide which EFA product we should use. On the surface, Krill makes a lot of sense, most likely sustainable, up the food chain so less potentially toxic, contains astaxanthin and it is "more absorbable" than commercial fish oil.

      Makes for great marketing copy. The part they leave out is the dosing. And since almost nobody measures their levels, nobody knows that they are getting very little ultimate benefits from the recommended 1 to 2 caps daily of Krill.

      The big problem that get's overlooked is the dosing!

      A recent study did show that Krill is 35% better absorbed than ethyl ester molecularly
      distilled fish oils. (98% of all oils on the market) but the total EPA dose per capsules is only

      If you look at the Krill industry promotional stud you can see that the omega 3 index elevation. It went up from 5.9 to 6.6 as opposed to 6.3 . Sort of like saying my VW Bug is faster than yours in a race against a Ferrari. The data proves what we have found. For most people whose Omega 3 index is between 3 to 5%, it will take 12 or more capsules a day to get levels above 8% which is the base optimal level!

      The other thing they did not mention is that if they compared Krill against a natural forms of oil such as in Pharmax or Whole Omega the absorption of the krill might have been worse..

      Dr Dyerberg his Danish co-workers reported &lt http://www.nutraingredients-usa.com/Research/Omega-3-bioavailability-Scientists-lift-the-lid-on-which-forms-work-best> that the bioavailability of omega-3s in the triglyceride from was 50 percent higher
      than omega-3 in the form of free fatty acids or ethyl esters (Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids, Vol. 83, pp. 137-141).


      And most importantly, the real world data confirms all of this.

      In our extensive testing of athletes, we have found that it takes at least 2000 mg of a high quality low processed fish oil (Pharmax, New Chapter and a few others) to raise the omega 3 index above 8% the optimal levels. So while it takes 3 caps daily of Pharmax to achieve this for a monthly cost of $30. It would take 12 to 17 caps of Krill oil a day to do this at a cost of $150 to $200 per month!

      And for the Astaxanthin in Krill. Sure it is nice to be in there. But at only 0.6mg per capsule it is negligible. The effects of astaxanthin require dosing of 8 to 16 mg daily!! So better to just get some Astaxsnthin capsules at take 2 daily!

      With regard to base nutrition. Our testing of hundreds of athletes show less than optimal levels of all of these core factors!!

      Vitamin D
      Fish Oil
      Antixoidant (Astaxanthin)
      Whole Food Supplement

      Get a baseline, supplement in 4 months and then reassess to insure you are on the right path and dosing. If you don't assess, you waster your money. A new concept for all but
      it is nutrition for the modern times.

  18. glen fletcher says:

    Hey, Ben interested in the 395.00 gi tract test for my wife who for years has dealt with all stomach issues that have not required treatment, but have caused her untold distress from bloating, gas, diarrhea, and constipation. Whereas I go regularly 3 times a day or even more, she goes sometimes 5-7 days without elimination. Only medication she takes in synthetic thyroid medication. She stated tonight that since she started eating more like me, the health nut in the family, her issues have settled down some, but personally I know she still has major gi issues. I offered to purchase this panel for her 60th if she follows through with the recommendations. My main question is how do you pull up the consumer reviews, supposedly 32. Any additional info or help please advise. Thanks, Ben.

    1. Glen, are you referring to the "star" ratings left by site visitors for http://pacificfit.net/items/expanded-gi-panel/ ? If so, those are ratings, but not comments…

      1. glen fletcher says:

        yea, Ben. Just curious why they have only 3 stars out of 5. Anything you can add that you did not talk about on podcast to convince my wife. Thanks, Ben

  19. Mer says:

    podcase question: I'm a little confused. you mentioned a few podcasts ago that you no longer accept email questions, except when I click "ask a question" in my droid app, it takes me to your email addresses. huh?!

    supplement question: so in relation to this episode specifically, I started taking Udo's oil. I feel like it's making my skin break out a bit. Is this possible. It has happened to me when I increased fish oil intake as well, but I thought it was an old wives tale that using more oil would make your skin break out. I haven't really changed anything else and I swear it seems like a trend.

    1. I'll answer this on the podcast. The only way to ask a question via e-mail is the iphone app or android app!

    2. from Udo:

      Occasionally, people have skin break outs when they begin to take good oils.
      We believe that this is usually a reaction of toxins moving out through the skin.
      Oil-soluble toxins can build up in tissues when there is not enough of the kind of oil that migrates to the skin present in their diet. Omega 3s appear to move toxins more effectively than omega 6, 9 or saturated fats.
      This reaction usually stops within 2 to 6 weeks.
      It is also possible that use of too much soap or other chemical, used on skin that now has oils in it that wash off rather more easily than before good oils were used, can lead to skin irritation. One would have to be quite perfectionistic (obsessive) with cleanliness for this to happen.
      I hope this is helpful to you.
      Warm regards

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