011 : D1 Lab Human Performance - Supplements 101

Supplements 101

Supplements can play an important role in happy, productive, fun, and active lives. Education and awareness on what supplements to take, why to take them, how to take them, and when to take them are integral to helping consumers reach their goals and live the life they want to live. These principals and the awareness of industry limitations led to the creation of D1 Lab.

With the supplement industry often appearing as the “Wild West”, our mission is to provide dedicated athletes and fitness enthusiasts the tools to meet their physical and performance goals, while ensuring every easy-to-use product we offer consists of high quality, clean, safe, and effective ingredients. Any product with the ‘D1 Lab’ logo guarantees lab-testing and third-party certification against banned substances and contaminants of any kind.

We are a supplement brand built by former collegiate and professional athletes. We want to bring clarity to the supplement industry while making science-backed, low-risk products for the athletes that deserve big results. 

Here are some important talking points that we would like to expand on, in order to educate and to further awareness into the supplement industry:

  • The best results start with the basics: nutrition, sleep and recovery, and one’s training program

  • When to get started with supplements

  • The integrity of the supplement industry

  • Why Protein?

  • Why Creatine?

  • What about mixed supplements?

The best results start with the basics

The best way to realize positive physical results is to optimize your sleep, diet, and training program. Athletes and supplement consumers should first focus on those 3 things before moving on to advanced resources like sports specific training and consuming supplements.

Optimizing nutrition, sleep, and exercise will take individuals well on their way towards their goals. That said, when the individual is already perfecting the basics, supplements provide a greater advantage and give greater results. So, where do supplements come in? 

When to get started with supplements

Inherently, these products should “supplement” a thoughtful training regimen. Often they are improperly used as a buffer against eating well or getting good sleep. Just as a pyramid relies on its foundation for its height, peak performance cannot be achieved without nailing the foundational basics (nutrition, recovery, and training).

If used correctly, supplements can maximize the effort put into the ‘big 3’, as insurance for not getting all the micro and macro-nutrients needed, and by closing the gap in one's daily nutrition needs.

The answer on when to use supplements isn’t cookie-cutter simple. Each athlete should take the time to do the research, ask for help, and get perspective from dietitians, coaches, and elite athletes. The “right amount” of nutritional content depends on the individual's body type, their activity levels, physical goals, resting metabolic rate, and sport specific requirements. Empowering our athletes with education and awareness on how, when, and why to use supplements should be a cornerstone within the supplement industry. 

Dietary supplements and the FDA

A note on the supplement industry as a whole: The FDA doesn't regulate supplements like they do other food consumer products. What that means for the consuming athlete is that the athlete may not know how much of what is actually in their product unless the product is Third Party Certified.

The unlisted ingredients can include random fillers, banned substances, metals, and stimulants. It is imperative that the supplement consumer looks for Third Party Certification. The top Third Party Certifications are Informed Choice, Informed Sport, and NSF. These marks of approval on the product ensures there are no banned substances or stimulants, certifying that what the supplement company says is in the product, is in the product. 

So what are some go-to products?

Protein

Protein powders, like other forms of protein, have pros and cons. Certainly, the pros include its ease of use, the specificity - the concentration of protein per oz, the high absorption rates, its proven track record in muscle synthesis, its relative low cost on a protein/dollar ratio, and its ease of consumption (especially when the last thing an athlete wants to do is sit down and eat a meal).

The cons include the lack of other vitamins and minerals consumed in wholesome protein sources like lean meat, dairy, and dense vegan protein sources, and the cost per serving, which may be high for some budgets. Athletes generally require at least double the amount of protein the average human needs, and in elite athletes that number can reach as high as 2g per kg of body weight.

For dedicated athletes that care for their nutrition, protein powders are a part of an ideal post workout snack, in addition to being helpful in reaching daily macro goals. Imagine a 90kg high school football player. He has a time consuming schedule, a demanding physical load, and a high metabolic rate. In order to reach his 180g of protein a day (to maintain peak performance and recovery), he probably needs to spread his protein intake over 3 meals and 3 snacks, which need to vary in protein sources so he can digest and use the protein he consumes.

This is a daunting task for most people, which is why a flexible and concentrated product like protein powders are a wonderful tool for athletes. This same athlete could easily reach a daily metabolic burn rate over 4000 kcalories. “Gainer” protein shakes, which pack in dense calories through forms of carbohydrates, do provide insurance against caloric deficits, which would hinder this athletes performance, recovery, and ability to build muscle mass.

We encourage athletes in this situation to look for cleaner forms of carbohydrates, like oatmeal, quinoa powder, or fruit carbohydrates, as opposed to cheap forms like a corn-based maltodextrin, which have a high glycemic index. 

Creatine

As one of the most extensively studied supplements on the market, creatine monohydrate has a well established safety profile with numerous potential benefits. Many studies have demonstrated that creatine monohydrate ingestion can lead to increased total creatine and phosphocreatine concentrations in skeletal muscle tissue.

The increased availability of these compounds in tissue drives greater production of muscle ATP (cellular energy) through the phosphorylative capacity of phosphocreatine on ADP. More ATP leads to sustained improvements in muscle output in short-burst and resistance training.

For consumers with a thoughtful approach to training, sleep, and diet regimens, creatine monohydrate supplementation is a proven way to see enhanced force generation and associated physical performance. Over time, the accumulation of more training repetitions can compound into significant health and fitness changes, not to mention the potential competitive benefits for serious athletes.

Mixed supplements

Mixed supplements can be a great resource, if it meets your desired effect, and comes in the correct dosages. An issue with mixed supplements is that they may be filled with unnecessary or unwanted ingredients. To combat this, the collective industry needs to buy into having a high standard of product.

If the industry adhered to third party testing and only research backed products, the new normal would be effective, safe, and clean products. Individual supplement companies need to take responsibility to educate consumers about their supplements.

Lastly, individual consumers have the responsibility to be an agent of their long term health. This means choosing supplements that coincide with their goals, their regimen, and their training, without electing to trade results for long term health. 

We agree that the cocktail of experimental supplements thrown into many weight loss or pre-workout products is unacceptable because these compounds are not in the best interest of the consuming athlete or the integrity of the supplement industry. In the American population, stimulants - including caffeine - are the source of a significant amount of hospital visits and heart arrhythmias, especially for young, otherwise healthy individuals.

We advocate that if athletes are dependent on their pre-workout to give them the energy to workout, it indicates they have gaps in their nutrition and recovery (sleep). 

Closing

Adults, parents, coaches, and trainers all have a responsibility to understand what products they are taking or encouraging. Education and awareness on what supplements to take, why to take them, how to take them, and when to take them are integral to helping consumers reach their goals and live the life they want to live. Collectively, if we demand safe, tested, and research back products, we will ultimately bring a higher standard to the industry, and not sacrifice health for results.