Stacking supplements: Does It Work?
QUESTION: Dear Tom: I’m using lipo6x for fat burning. I was wondering if I can stack lipo6x with size-on precontest formula and nitrix and creatine and triblus? Would the combination work better than each one individually? Any advice?
ANSWER: Advice? yes, be sure to flush twice so there arent any floaters left behind.
- Tom Venuto
PS Ok, ok, I’m partly joking. But seriously, 97% of supplements are either a complete waste of money, worthy of dumping down the toilet, or they do not perform as advertised (advertising exaggerates, etc).
The best you get out of todays crop of “fat burners” is a caffeine buzz (which admittedly might be worth something as
a pre-workout stimulant), a very mild thermogenic effect (not much), and possibly sometimes a bit of appetite suppression.
Abs dont come in a pill, never did never will…
Tribulus? If its real standardized extract it *might* do something in libido dept, (and for THAT, you might as well take the little blue pill instead), but I have not seen a shred of evidence suggesting this stuff boosts muscle growth. If anyone has such evidence by all means send it to me – I’ll examine the data and share the results if they’re noteworthy.
If you dig into the research you will find hardly anything on humans, but I thought it was amusing that most of the studies are on rabbits (not mice… rabbits… get it?… rabbits? oh nevermind… )
Size on? I heard of it, but I dont know what it is (If you want to put SIZE ON, try eating some more real FOOD!).
“Muscle Size supplements” often contain creatine and yes, creatine is worth taking – it’s the most studied sports supplement in history. I will do a write up on it, including a write up on why women should take it too, in the near future.
[NOTE: Will Brink is a great resource of info on creatine - it's one of his specialties. Check out his program at www.BrinksBodybuilding.com - supplement reviews are a major strong point of this product.]
The idea of stacking supplements might have some merit. The most famous example was ephedrine stacked with caffeine, AKA the EC stack. Actually that is a drug stack not a natural supplement stack, and ephedrine sales were restricted years ago, but when it was widely available, the addition of the caffeine was research-proven to enhance the effect of the ephedrine.
After ephedra was taken off the market, supplement companies were looking for alternatives and one they found was EGCG, the active ingredient in green tea extract. EGCG at a dose of 270-300 mg per day has been proven to increase metabolism by about 80 calories in 24 hours (not much, but enough to be called significant). Long term effects on fat loss are still unclear. However, like the EC stack, more recent research has suggested that adding caffeine might boost the effects of the EGCG.
Another example is creatine. We know that creatine works, so researchers have studied creatine when taken in combination (stacked) with other supplements such as beta alanine or whey protein. Sometimes the results are favorable but the research is mixed on how superior, if at all the two are in combination as compared to taken alone.
When testing stacked supplements, researchers have to do a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial with the individual supplement versus the two supplements stacked to see if there’s any true difference.
Otherwise, it actually clouds the picture because if you take something else with creatine and the study says “this supplement works!” well… no kidding, we already know that creatine works and creatine was in the supplement. The question is, does the additional ingredient have additive or synergistic effects and that is not always clear in every study.
One area I would caution you about is those “everything but the kitchen sink” products. These have been around for decades – it’s one of the oldest supplement company tricks in the book. Basically, they just toss in a little bit of everything, cross their fingers and hope for the best. There is seldom, if ever any research on these mixed products, only (sometimes) research on the individual ingredients.
The problem is, there is only so much room per serving unless you want to choke down handfuls of “horse pills” or bucketfuls of goop. So what happens is, sneaky supplement companies just sprinkle in a little bit of the supplement – a trick known as “fairy dusting.” Now they can say an ingredient is on the label, even though its only there in a tiny amount.
Here’s my question for you: even if that supplement has research evidence supporting its effectiveness, does that little dusting come even close to the necessary dose used in the research? The answer of course is no and therefore it is nothing more than label decoration. So even if there could be some synergy between the ingredients, there’s not enough in there to do anything.
Overall, there’s not too much to get excited about in the muscle building and fat loss supplement world today. Mostly a whole lot of hype if you ask me – and I DO pay close attention to the research.
For me to review all the individual supplement stacks or combinations could take pages, so looking at other product combinations will have to the subject of future columns.
One last thing: Guys (and gals), if you want supplements reviewed through my question and answer columns DO NOT send me brand names. Send me ingredients. You cant tell whats in the product just from the brand name and I just can’t keep track of all this crap anymore…
Although, I must say, the brand names can be pretty amusing these days. They usually sound something like this: “Nitro-methyl dianabel-clenbutrox cypo-nex5! The new frontier in anabolic activators!”
Bwaaaaa hahahahahaha!… yeah, I remember when I was a gullible 16-year old too.
Flush the junk, train hard and expect success!