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CrossFit And Supplements

I’ve had many conversations with you Zoners in the last while on the subject of whether to supplement or not to supplement.  There are some interesting points made in the article below.  I’d love it if you folks would weigh in on your thoughts regarding this:

Original article from Mind &

“CrossFit is sweeping the planet and let me add my voice of affirmation (to the dismay of many of my peers) that I think it’s one of the best things to happen to the fitness industry in a long, long time. CrossFit is the real deal when it comes to the sport of fitness and helping Joe Six-Pack  and Soccer Moms all over the place discover what is really possible in/with their bodies and sometimes even more importantly the tremendous bounds of “strength” their minds are capable of. CrossFit has made extreme fitness a sport, and I am glad. Now let me tell you about one of the greatest Achilles heals that the CrossFit movement has today.

CrossFit is famous for its anti-consumerism approach to fitness and I find that refreshing…mostly. That said, the very real, tangible scientific research about supplementation and exercise is irrefutable, even for those of the CrossFit ilk of which I am now one. I love CrossFit. I have joined a great CF box and I look forward to really achieving new heights in the realm of fitness and strength that I have never achieved thus far. I am also a man of science and a devotee of truth who has over a decade of experience in pursuing the FACTS about what science has demonstrated as useful in the realm of supplements and supplementation in our quest for physical and neuro excellence.

CrossFit takes an approach that if you have excellent nutrition then you simply do not need to supplement your diet in any way. Scientific research says that’s simply not accurate and has held that position for years. Us CrossFitters are not special, supernatural beings to whom the evidence does not apply. On the contrary, because us CrossFitters workout so intensely and so frequently we are the prime examples of athletes who NEED to have the right supplements in addition to our excellent diet (for those of us who are actually eating clean Paleo diets) in order to perform, recover and progress at our absolute best.

When muscles are worked hard they require certain things to be their very best that are next to impossible to obtain through even the most diligent diet. Now in the CrossFit world PROGENEX has become the favored child among supplement companies to give the CrossFit nation its necessary supplements. The problem – and I have nothing against PROGENEX at all – is that they are not providing anything exceptional and some would argue that their pricing is steep for what you get. Sooooo, here is what I want to say in general about supplementation and CrossFit.

There are some GREAT products you can get that give you well rounded, effective supplementation towards you CrossFit fitness goals that research has suggested works and works well. Let me throw out some really fairly-priced supplements from MULTIPLE companies (not just favoring one company which always makes one wonder):

BCAA’s and EAA’s, the backbone of all muscular performance growth. The science behind BCAA’s and EAA’s has been well established for decades. In short, you should be consuming them both before, during and after. Some research suggests that there is real benefit in sipping a BCAA/EAA cocktail throughout the day. Amino Acids have been demonstrated as very safe and highly effective for a long, long time. Benefits include better performance while working out, faster recovery, and greater growth of lean muscle body composition while still losing fat.

Amino acids are essential (hence the phrase “essential amino acids”) to optimal health. The body uses amino acids to make many crucial substances in our bodies. Here is just a few things that Essential Amino Acids accomplish for the human body:

  • Our bodies use them to make enzymes that support biochemical reactions and hormones that influence the body’s metabolism. They also make hemoglobin that carries oxygen through the body, and antibodies that are infection fighters that help the immune system. They are GOOD for you!
  • Amino acids play a vital role in repairing muscles, ligaments, tendons as well as glands, organs and more.
  • Our bodies use several amino acids as neurotransmitters, chemicals in our brain, that play an essential role in transmitting messages within the neurons of the brain.
  • Amino acids also serve as leaders to vitamins and minerals to do their jobs in our bodies as best as they can.

There is not a CrossFitter anywhere that can not benefit from this.

Now specifically there is another supplement found in abundance in the supplement world called BCAA’s which is short for Branch Chain Amino Acids. What can BCAA’s do for people involved in CrossFit? Let me share just a few things that research suggests:

  • Research evidence suggests that orally consuming BCAA’s reduces muscle breakdown (catabolism) during exercise while simultaneously increasing protein synthesis! That’s good new for everyone but especially for extreme athletes such as CrossFitter’s.
  • BCAA’s have been shown to regulate blood sugar levels, aid in fat loss and have been studied for their potential role in delaying central nervous system (CNS) fatigue, especially in athletes.
  • Clinically, it is not just people who are healthy and exercise who benefit on BCAAs.  Branched Chain Amino Acids have been used to treat depression, diabetes, anorexia, irritability headaches and other physical issues that stem from a bodies deficiency in protein. The point is simple, every athlete needs BCAA’s!
  • BCAA’s combined with Glutamine have been shown to increase lean muscle mass and reduce muscle wasting while promoting recovery.

To finish this article off for now and with part 2 coming soon, the other absolutely foundational supplement that EVERY athlete needs is protein. Now, I am a huge advocate of Paleo eating and consuming massive amounts of protein via lean meat, fish, peas, healthy eggs and dairy and nuts. That said, again there is overwhelming research that suggests that consuming protein in a more bio available liquid form with other actives involved can lead to much higher bio absorption and benefit to your muscles in term of growth, performance and recovery. The CrossFit darling supplement company Progenex understands this and has just a few products of which one is a Hydrolyzed Whey Protein Isolate. I love Hydrolyzed Whey Protein Isolates and every CrossFitter should be using them. However, you don’t have to use the Progenex brand as if its magical for CrossFitters in a way its not for other athletes. There are some really great, cost effective proteins out there that deliver fantastic results while being kind to your pocket book.”

To read some of the product suggestions made, click here

And after you take a look at that, be sure to post in our comments section and let us know your thoughts and current practices (if any) regarding supplementation!

Today’s Workout:

Buy In  – Rope climb technique, then complete 5 ascents and 5 x 5 KB swings increasing weight and challenging yourself!  Break up as needed to take turns on the ropes


3 rounds for time of:
10 Front Squats 135/185 lbs
200 m Run

Zone 4 – 115/155lbs
Zone 3 – 95/135lbs
Zone 2 – 75/115lbs
Zone 1 – scale as needed

Cash Out – Couch stretch followed by rolling out your IT bands with a lacrosse ball

42 thoughts to “CrossFit And Supplements”

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    As for supplements, I recently had a bit of a revelation. The WLC rules require fish oil with 4000 mg of combined EPA/DHA each day. So, I took a look at the label of the omega 3-6-9 I've been taking, and I was only getting 522 mg a day. Then, browsing at the store, I was dumbfounded to see how much the fatty acid supplements varied on this. Some had < 100 mg per capsule, some had 900 mg per capsule! And it wasn't a matter of price. The most expensive one I found only had ~200 mg per capsule.

    The gist: read labels.

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