The supplements I use are not technically Paleo, but that doesn’t really matter.
There are a few reasons for this. One, is that Paleo is not a reenactment. We aren’t trying to reproduce EVERYTHING that Paleolithic human beings did. We don’t live in caves and wear loin cloths. What we are trying to do is emulate perfect health and do the best we can in this modern world.
The second reason I allow certain supplements into my body is that they are all natural, or are naturally contained in many whole food sources. Some of them are even synthesised in our own bodies. Creatine, for instance, can be found in large amounts in red meat.
The third reason I supplement is simple: it makes muscle-building and fat-burning easier to accomplish.
Basically, taking 5 grams of creatine per day is like eating a whole shit-ton of steak, without all the excess nutrients. So I get all the muscle-building benefits of eating a whole food, without putting on extra body fat.
Now, what exactly do I supplement with?
Creatine is a nitrogenous organic acid that occurs naturally in vertebrates and helps to supply energy to all cells in the body, primarily muscle. This is achieved by increasing the formation of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Creatine was identified in 1832 when Michel Eugène Chevreul discovered it as a component of skeletal muscle, which he later named after the Greek word for meat, κρέας (kreas).
Extensive research over the last decade has shown that oral creatine supplementation at a rate of 5 to 20 grams per day appears to be very safe and largely devoid of adverse side-effects, while at the same time effectively improving the physiological response to resistance exercise, increasing the maximal force production of muscles in both men and women.
Arginine (abbreviated as Arg or R) is an α-amino acid. Arginine plays an important role in cell division, the healing of wounds, removing ammonia from the body, immune function, and the release of hormones. Arginine taken in combination with proanthocyanidins or yohimbine, has also been used as a treatment for erectile dysfunction.
The benefits and functions attributed to oral supplementation of L-arginine include:
- Precursor for the synthesis of nitric oxide (NO)
- Reduces healing time of injuries (particularly bone)
- Quickens repair time of damaged tissue
- Helps decrease blood pressure
Branched-chain amino acid (BCAA) is an amino acid having aliphatic side-chains with a branch (a carbon atom bound to more than two other carbon atoms). Among the proteinogenic amino acids, there are three BCAAs: leucine, isoleucine and valine. The BCAAs are among the nine essential amino acids for humans, accounting for 35% of the essential amino acids in muscle proteins and 40% of the preformed amino acids required by mammals.
Caffeine is a bitter, white crystalline xanthine alkaloid that acts as a stimulantdrug. A number of potential mechanisms have been proposed for the athletic performance-enhancing effects of caffeine. In the classic, or metabolic theory, caffeine may increase fat utilization and decrease glycogen utilization. Caffeine mobilizes free fatty acids from fat and/or intramuscular triglycerides by increasing circulating epinephrine levels. The increased availability of free fatty acids increases fat oxidation and spares muscle glycogen, thereby enhancing endurance performance. In the nervous system, caffeine may reduce the perception of effort by lowering the neuron activation threshold, making it easier to recruit the muscles for exercise.
Whey protein is a mixture of globular proteins isolated from whey, the liquid material created as a by-product of cheese production. Research indicates that the use of supplementary whey or soy protein combined with resistance training offers some benefit over no protein supplementation.
Beta-Alanine is a naturally occurring beta amino acid, which is an amino acid in which the amino group is at the β-position from the carboxylate group. Supplementation with β-alanine has been shown to increase the concentration of carnosine in muscles, decrease fatigue in athletes and increase total muscular work done.
Carnitine is a quaternary ammonium compound biosynthesized from the amino acids lysine and methionine. In living cells, it is required for the transport of fatty acids from the cytosol into the mitochondria during the breakdown of lipids (fats) for the generation of metabolic energy.
Tyrosine is a precursor to neurotransmitters and increases plasma neurotransmitter levels (particularly dopamine and norepinephrine) but has little if any effect on mood. The effect on mood is more noticeable in humans subjected to stressful conditions (see below).
Citrulline is an α-amino acid. Its name is derived from citrullus, the Latin word for watermelon, from which it was first isolated in 1930. Citrulline malate is sold as a performance-enhancing athletic dietary supplement, which was shown to reduce muscle fatigue in a preliminary clinical trial.
A number of studies have found tyrosine to be useful during conditions of stress, cold, fatigue, loss of a loved one such as in death or divorce, prolonged work and sleep deprivation, with reductions in stress hormone levels, reductions in stress-induced weight loss seen in animal trials, improvements in cognitive and physical performance seen in human trials