My Pre and Post Workout Supplements Review

Someone on Facebook recently asked me what supplements I recommend before and after a workout.  Since pre-workout powders and drinks seem to be all the rage right now, and everyone is also talking about what supplements to take during and after your workout to optimize recovery and maximize “dem gainz”, I decided to shoot a video discussing my own peri-workout recommendations:

Pre-Workout Supplementation

First of all, my pre-workout supplement routine is a little different now than it used to be. In the past I used to like consuming fast-acting carbs before training, along with caffeine or other stimulants. But I’ve found that I respond better to the following:

Coconut oil is a source of MCT’s (Medium Chain Triglycerides) which is a fat that is very easily used as a quick energy source. Coconut oil also has many other health benefits worth looking into. Now I usually leave my carbohydrates until after my workout.





Carnitine plays a key role in muscle glycogen metabolism. Supplementation with carnitine increases muscle glycogen storage and improves ATP production, which improves muscular strength and endurance and delays the onset of fatigue. Check out the diagram below to see how L-Carnitine in Fat Metabolism as well as improving strength and energy during your workout:







Creatine is one of the most well researched “natural” ergogenic supplements. It is a proven performance enhancer and studies prove that it supports strength and hypertrophy. It does this by increasing the amount of creatine phosphate stored in your body, which is readily converted to ATP for short duration strength effort. It has also been shown to be completely safe.

Creatine HCL has been shown to be far more easily digested, more bioavailable, and more effective.



Dendrobium (Pronounced: den-DROH-bee-um) is a member of the orchid plant family and is one of the 50 fundamental herbs used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), where it has the name Shihu. The plant is native to southern Asia, and Dendrobium nobile is by far the most widely used species because of its well-known medicinal properties.

Dendrobium has been used in China for over 1000 years as a tonic and strengthening medicine. It contains a variety of chemical alkaloids that are thought to be responsible for its beneficial effects.

As far as caffeine goes, I hope I don’t have to explain to you the benefits of taking caffeine pre-workout! But I do recommend minimizing the use of caffeine throughout the rest of your day. One powerful pre-workout caffeinated supplement I also really like is called Super Freak… check it out HERE.



Whey protein is a very bioavailable source of complete protein derived from dairy. It has been show to support muscle building, fat loss, as well as other potential health benefits. According to some studies, whey protein may reduce the risk of developing certain diseases.

Research has found that whey protein may have anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties, as well as possibly acting as an effective supplementary treatment for diabetes and heart disease.


 Pre-Workout Stimulants You Should AVOID (What NOT to take!):

Now, admittedly there are many different pre-workout supplements you can use from different brands, and many of those supplements will be very effective… some will be more effective for increasing your workout intensity than what I have recommended above. But I am also looking at reducing any negative impact with my supplementation, as well as improving recovery and supporting my body in growing stronger AFTER the workout (not just pounding myself full of stimulants for a short term boost). The short video below demonstrates the effects of one very powerful yet equally dangerous pre-workout supplement that I suggest you avoid using… even if your training partner offers to let you try it for free (as in the video):

Supplementation During Workout:

If I do take a supplement during a workout (I don’t always) it would be BCAA’s (Branched Chain Amino Acids).



A countless number of scientific studies show the positive effects that BCAAs have on protein synthesis (muscle growth). BCAAs stimulate protein synthesis through multiple pathways. Several human studies show increased protein synthesis and decreased protein breakdown when BCAA’s are supplemented before, during, and after exercise.


BCAAs have a glycogen sparing effect and help maintain muscle and liver glycogen stores during exercise. By sparing glycogen, BCAAs can increase fuel supply to working muscle during exercise, resulting in greater performance!

Post-Workout Supplementation

The supplements I take after a workout are directed at improving recovery, optimizing an anabolic environment, and improving nutrient partitioning and replenishing my muscles nutrient stores. These are as follows:


I already discussed Whey protein as part of my pre-workout supplement stack. After a workout I mix it with a source of simple carbohydrates (fast-acting), such as a carb drink / powder (ie: maltodextrin) or I’ll just eat a couple of bananas. Typically I’ll aim to make it 60% carbs and 40% protein post-workout.

The high-GI carbs will spike your insulin which will help you take in and store nutrients more quickly. Insulin is a great storage hormone and is actually very anabolic… however, if it is elevated for long durations it can lead to increased fat storage, especially if you are in a caloric surplus.

The other post-workout supplements are Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA), high Allicin garlic, and EGCG (Green Tea).  Each of these has it’s own health benefits and strong anti-oxidant properties, but my main purpose for taking them together after my workout with carbohydrates is to improve insulin sensitivity and nutrient partitioning. It is basically a modified version of the PAGG Stack that Tim Ferriss talks about in his book the 4 Hour Body.  Essentially these supplements are meant work synergistically to support the transport of nutrients into your muscle cells rather than into fat cells.

Find out more about the PAGG Stack in my blog post about how to Manage Your Cheat Meals.

Learn more about the other incredible benefits of GARLIC in this Gym Chat expert interview: The Amazing Benefits of Garlic!

My Favorite Brand

I get most of my supplements from a company called SD Pharmaceuticals. The main reason I like this brand is because they only produce and sell single ingredient supplements that are backed by recognized third party research.

This is why their tag line is The Cutting-Edge Ingredient Company. This is also the main reason while I pursued a sponsorship opportunity with this company. They produce higher quality dietary supplements with more effective, standardized ingredient dosages, based on up-to-date scientific research.

I do use some supplements that my sponsor SD Pharmaceuticals doesn’t produce, but even in those cases I still look for the same thing… is it backed by legitimate studies, and do they use quality ingredients in the effective dosages.

Learn more about my sponsor by clicking the image below:



Here’s a Gym Chat interview I did a few weeks ago with competitive bodybuilder, trainer, and fitness expert, Paul Teixeira formerly with SD Pharmaceuticals, where he discusses how to create an effective supplement stack by using certain supplements together that have a synergistic effect.

Want to learn how to get more out of your nutritional supplements by stacking them for faster fat loss, strength or muscle gains? Check out this Gym Chat!

 I hope that gives you some ideas on what supplements to use around your workouts to fuel your energy, intensity, and recovery. Keep in mind that your priority should be on following a solid nutrition plan and training program first, before getting into using too many supplements. Only once that is in place will you notice an optimal effect from your supplements.

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