6 Supplements That Have True PowerAug 24, 2023
by Phil Kaplan
OPENING NOTE: As I release this blog post, I want to announce the Introduction of a new service at Infinite Impact. We’re calling it a Drug and Supplement Review and Assessment. The intention is to assess and provide clarity as to the value of the pills, capsules, and formulas you’re taking. I’ll share additional details at the end, or email me at [email protected].
On with the Blog . . .
Some of my usual readers got mad at me when, in my previous blog post, I identified Sunlight as the #1 Supplement (although I meant everything I said).
“Phil, you’ve been my trusted resource since the days of your Mind & Muscle radio show, so when I saw you had new info on supplements, I was excited to read what you had to say. Sunlight? C’mon bro. You used to share the hardcore stuff, now you’re using click bait to sell your Reboot and Red Light.”
Everyone is certainly entitled to their opinion and when frequent readers or long-time followers react, I pay attention. In this article, I’ll share my picks for “The 6 Top Supplements That Have Power” in terms of delivering the most commonly desired outcomes. Nutritional supplements, not rays of light. Capsules, powders, and OTC pills found in Nutritional Supply Stores. Compounds that play a quantifiable role in improving function, cognition, sex drive, and body composition (fat loss).
I’m about to deliver as promised, but I have to begin with a bit of a disclaimer. Tackling the theme of nutritional supplements with a promise of identifying “which ones work” is an impossibility as there are too many individual variables to consider in objectively assessing what “work” means.
Knowing that, I can, after working with a few thousand people and assessing outcomes and results, identify 6 nutritional supplements that I’ve seen contribute to a “wow” effect over the course of 8, 12, or 24 weeks. Not every one I discuss will necessarily apply to YOUR specific goals, but somewhere on the list I suspect every reader will find insight and benefit.
Here we go . . .
THE SUPPLEMENTS, THE BENEFITS
While two common goals are weight loss and muscle gain (some favor one over the other) and there isn’t a single supplement that can, in and of itself, demonstrate reduction of fat or increase of lean body mass, I have to start with Creatine Monohydrate as, in assessing a single compound’s ability to increase the size and performance ability, it stands alone.
POWER SUPPEMENT #1 IS A MUSCLE BUILDER
It’s hard for me to get into a discussion on Creatine without going on and on . . . and on. It was first introduced to me by Sports Biochemist, Anthony Almada. I remember the phone conversation as if it were yesterday (it was likely 1995).
“and Reggie Jackson’s using it and he just added 10 pounds of muscle.”
“Send me some.”
At the time I was focused on physique and strength and had never exceeded 190 pounds. For the first time in my life I got up to over 200 (thanks to creatine monohydrate), in a matter of weeks, and I set a new personal record on the bench press, 370 for a single rep. Easily!
I had never used any anabolic drugs. I didn’t make any changes in my training or nutrition. I just started taking 5 grams of creatine monohydrate powder per day, and from that day forward, I could answer the creatine question with two words, “it works.”
Since then lots of product manufacturers have released “creatine formulas” with hyped up marketing and scientific jargon, the rumor mills poured out “the dangers,” and the naysayers did what they do. Here we are 30+ years later and I still say, “it works.”
(by the way, for those who don’t know, Reggie Jackson was a professional baseball player, a famed NY Yankee, who was a Home Run leader year after year after year)
#1 – Creatine Monohydrate
Benefit: Muscle Volumizing and Performance
Creatine, a natural compound found in red meat, has a multi-faceted effect valued by hard-training athletes. It increases phosphocreatine content in muscle cells. Phosphocreatine is a “phosphagen.”
Phosphagens are energy substrates stored in muscle tissue allowing for supply of energy in a state where aerobic energy substrates are exhausted. Think of them as a reservoir of fuel stored in muscle cells.
Along with ATP, phosphocreatine creates energy for muscle contraction. When supply is increased, it also tends to activate protein synthesis pathways allowing for enhanced potential for muscle growth. It further appears to increase production/activity of IGF-1 and the increased transport of creatine / phosphocreatine draws additional water into every muscle cell.
Because muscle is predominantly water, this muscle volumizing effect results in more muscle mass. Although some of the volumizing effect will diminish when creatine is discontinued, the other benefits can allow for significant maintainable muscle gain.
Buford T, Kreider R, Stout J, Greenwood M, Campbell B, Spano M, Ziegenfuss T, Lopez H, Landis J, Antonio J. International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: creatine supplementation and exercise. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2007;4:6. doi: 10.1186/1550-2783-4-6.
While I will, a bit later, address some compounds, that together can increase fat loss in conjunction with a sound exercise and eating program, I can’t identify a single compound as a true fat burner. If I’m beginning by identifying six stand-alones in terms of benefit, I’d have to move out of the realm of body composition and into the realm of health and immunity.
So let’s do that.
POWER SUPPLEMENT #2 OFFERS AN IMMUNE BOOST
NAC is the winner. I’ve spoken at length about the value of increasing Glutathione in the blood and cells and in any such discussion I’m inclined to mention NAC. Intravenous Glutathione has been a mainstay in my personal health program (especially after suffering environmental illness that led to some challenging compromise). IV has always been the preferred delivery system since oral ingestion of glutathione is typically destroyed by stomach acids and never makes it into the cell. Enter NAC.
#2 – NAC
Benefit: Reduce Oxidation and Boost Immune Function
N-Acetyl Cysteine is a precursor of Glutathione. When you swallow NAC, it gets absorbed through the gastrointestinal tract and sent to the liver where it is converted into cysteine. The body uses cysteine to manufacture glutathione which is delivered through the bloodstream to find its way to cellular absorption. Increasing intracellular Glutathione has a profound effect on the strength of the immune system and the management of cellular oxidation (cellular aging).
POWER SUPPLEMENT #3 Reverses Inflammation and Prevents Oxidation
When considering our food supply, common nutritional habits, and a quest for optimal health, next on the list would have to be the Omega 3’s commonly found in fish oil. Among the great many options for fish oil in supplement form, the winner that rises above the crowd is Krill oil.
#3 - Krill Oil
Benefit: Heart and Brain Health
We know that Fish Oil is widely regarded as a nutritional wonder for heart health, brain health, and managing or mitigating inflammation, and its reputation is justifiable. Marine sourced fats contain the wonderful combination of DHA and EPA, Omega 3’s that are vital for every cell and system in the body with particular value to the heart, brain, and nervous system.
While we can source Omega 3’s from salmon, sardines, and mackerel, the best source of all might be the miniscule crustaceans that make up the dietary staple of the gigantic Blue Whale. Krill.
Krill provides every benefit of fish oil supplementation with a few additional factors. Let’s start by identifying why Krill oil appears red while most fish oil supplements have a yellowish color.
The red color indicates the abundance of a carotenoid called astaxanthin, an antioxidant with 5,000 times the free-radical scavenging power of Vitamin C. That’s a biggie. In fact, I might have chosen Astaxanthin as one of the “top 6” were it not already present in Krill Oil.
If we’re looking for a list of reasons to elevate Krill Oil above all others, it’s worth noting the reduced risk of mercury ingestion. Because the sole food supply of these tiny red shrimp-like organisms is algae, and they are so low on the feeding chain, there is virtually no bioaccumulation of mercury (which can’t be said of larger fish.
POWER SUPPLEMENT #4 May Mimic Insulin and Calm The Gut
The next one I would add to the list is fast gaining ground in the world of natural medicine although it isn’t “new,” not by a long shot. Berberine can be extracted from medicinal plants such as Goldenseal and it’s been used as a remedy in the Americas native cultures for centuries.
In a world where statin drugs are the prescription du jour and Ozempic is more sought-after than gold, if a supplement truly had an ability to optimize blood sugar, reduce high cholesterol, and had proven benefit in reducing elevated blood pressure and reversing gut inflammation, it would have to make the list. And so, Berberine makes the list.
#4 – Berberine
Benefits: Assist in Blood Sugar Control and Improve Balance of the Microbiome
As research continues to zero in on the potential human benefits of this plant compound, the focus on gut-health is becoming a prominent proving ground. Berberine is not only an anti-microbial, but studies in mice have demonstrated an ability to improve “bacterial balance” within the gut. There’s almost an innate intelligence that allows Berberine to drive propagation of probiotics and hinder growth of the potentially harmful bacteria. Not only can this serve to reduce “gut issues,” but the far reaching benefits of a well-balanced microbiome include alleviating risk of immune compromise, depression, and chronic disease.
Another buzz that’s emerged around Berberine is the result of scientifically validated evidence suggesting it may improve glucose transport serving as an insulin-mimic. This can help regulate blood sugar and work to reduce risk and impact of insulin resistance.
Liu YF, Wang HH, Geng YH, Han L, Tu SH, Wang H. Advances of berberine against metabolic syndrome-associated kidney disease: Regarding effect and mechanism. Front Pharmacol. 2023 Feb 6;14:1112088.
Research continues to unfold revealing Berberine’s benefit in restoring liver function, controlling hypertension, reducing LDL, and maintaining heart health. It might even pan out to be a legit aid in enhancing a weight loss program to ensure maximal fat reduction.
Here's an excerpt from the study referenced above:
The “one-drug with multiple mechanisms and multiple targets” property of Berberine enables its applications in obesity, IR, hypertension, hyperglycemia, hyperlipidemia, and hyperuricemia. Among these abundant mechanisms of Berberine anti-inflammation and regulation of gut microbiota seem to be the common mechanisms.
This one’s a winner!
POWER SUPPLEMENT #5 is a More Powerful Anti-Inflammatory Than The Best-Selling NSAIDs
The next one is a near-miraculous anti-inflammatory compound proven valuable in alleviating symptoms (including pain) of inflammatory disease. While the intention is to list single compounds here (which would guide me to simply call Power Supplement #5 Turmeric, the root, I’m inclined to mention it in harmony with a second complementary compound Boswellia. Together they take the anti-inflammatory process from near-miraculous to a true miracle.
#5 – Turmeric (Curcuminoids) with Boswellia
Benefit: Powerful Anti-Inflammatory
With its roots (no pun intended) in 4,000 year old Ayurvedic medicine, Turmeric Root has been used as a spice and a medicine for millennia. In the world of plant-derived fruits, edible vegetables, marine life (I mentioned Krill earlier) and herbal “medicines” direct from nature, color often represents the presence of flavonoids which often have beneficial value in the arena of natural medicine.
The Turmeric root is a deep yellow (as is the curcumin spice in your spice rack). It is curcumin and related compounds found in turmeric (curcuminoids) that give the root its color and offer the anti-inflammatory and healing benefits to humans.
A massive body of evidence exists connecting turmeric with pain relief, reduction in inflammation, healing symptoms of digestive disorders, and more. On its own, it’s an anti-inflammatory powerhouse, but what if we can further enhance its power?
It appears we can.
The tree from which we can extract Frankincense, an oil long-used in varied religious practices and healing traditions also provides us with the compound we refer to as Boswellia. On its own, its been well documented to reduce pain associated with arthritis, to reduce cytokine activity in cases of inflammation, to help mitigate over-activity of the immune system in cases of immune dysregulation or autoimmune disease, and to help facilitate healing in the cases of wounds or infections.
Science reveals that the combination of these two miraculous compounds, turmeric and Boswellia, significantly amps up the power of each.
For anyone experiencing chronic disease, inflammatory issues, or embarking upon a path of extraordinary health, adding these two compounds into your daily regimen seems to not only make sense, but offer a great assist in restoration of balance and human excellence.
I’ll add that when it comes to these two compounds, as well as anything else I mentioned, check labels for dosages, check with your doctor to identify potential drug interactions or contraindications, and self-monitor your results and outcomes by implementing only one of these 6 highly regarded supplements at a time.
Did I save the best for last? No, I can’t call it “the best,” but, if we’re looking at Longevity, the scientific community will rally behind me as I share the most remarkable outcome in applying a supplement to longer life.
POWER SUPPLEMENT #6 May Double Lifespan. Yes, Double!
Remarkable outcomes are rare in legit supplement research, but when a compound in a peer-reviewed published study suggests it can near-double lifespan, it gets attention. C60, a fullerene, is getting attention.
This isn’t a supplement you’ll “feel,” nor is it likely to reveal a thrilling outcome in a matter of days or weeks, but based purely on the science, I include C60 because it appears to be the most novel and promising supplement of our time.
#6 - C60
Benefits: Anti-oxidant Life Extension
Carbon 60 is a fullerene, a molecular carbon cage that when magnified looks like a hollow soccer ball. Since the 1990’s C60 has been proven to be a powerful antioxidant. Various studies examined its anti-tumor properties, its immune system benefit, and its topical benefits for reversing or eradicating eruptions on the skin.
While it clearly had promise, it wasn’t until the 2012 study titled The prolongation of the lifespan of rats by repeated oral administration of fullerene that it drew the eyes of every anti-aging scientist on the planet. The rats using C60 (in olive oil) doubled their lifespan as compared with expected norms and a control group.
Tarek Baati, Fanchon Bourasset, Najla Gharbi, Leila Njim, Manef Abderrabba, Abdelhamid Kerkeni, Henri Szwarc, Fathi Moussa, The prolongation of the lifespan of rats by repeated oral administration of fullerene, Biomaterials, Volume 33, Issue 19, 2012,
If we consider that oxidation leads to aging, and a super-powerful antioxidant counters free-radicals, reduces inflammatory response, and has a cellular preservation effect, it makes sense that lifespan could be extended. But doubled? Check in with me when we’re 130 years old. I’ll confirm its power then.
BONUS POWER SUPPLEMENT
Worth mentioning although this shouldn't be mistaken for a recommendation.
There are some supplements that can improve sex drive and performance, some significantly. In fact Turmeric, Curcumin, and Boswellia have been studied for their potential role in this area (the results are not definitive but suggest they may be part of a supplement program aimed at improved sexual activity and frequency.
Yohimbe and AAKG
Benefits: Increased Blood Flow and Sex Drive
Yohimbe (active compound Yohimbine Hydrochloride) has demonstrated value in increasing erection hardness, sustainability, and sensitivity. Arginine Alpha-Ketoglutarate has the ability to increase blood flow making it a powerful aid. Note that the research indicates relatively safety for healthy adults,, but dosages should be modest and you're encouraged to check with your doctor for any drug interactions before experimenting with this combination.
OH . . . and while this combination seems to work for MEN (some may suggest if it works for the man it works for the couple), Damiana has shown promise as a sex drive amplifier in WOMEN.
There they are. 6 Supplements That Work (and a bonus).
I said at the onset I’d share a bit of reference related to supplements that have some value in a structured and sound fat loss program. Here’s a short list. Perhaps in a future blog post I’ll expand on each one.
METABOLIC FAT LOSS MENTIONS
These are not in any specific order, nor are they recommendations. They are simply supplemental compounds that based both on research and anecdote appear to have some value as adjuncts to a fat loss plan grounded in exercise and supportive eating.
- Green Tea Extracts
- Caffeine (time release or modest dosages) from Kola Nut, Green Tea, Guarana
- Coleus Forskolin
- Hydroxy Citric Acid (garcinia cambogia)
- CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid)
While, as I mentioned, there is some efficacy to the products I listed above (none of them work to burn fat without a synergistic program), I want to also provide a few cautions important for anyone who seeks to amplify fat loss by incorporating stimulant or appetite suppressing supplements. For now, I’ll simply share a short list of the purported fat burning compounds that I’ve seen have ill effects or bring uncomfortable adrenal or digestive reactions in the clients who used them.
Rather than discouraging you from using them, I’ll urge you not to randomly “stack them,” and further urge you to learn precisely how the supplements purports to deliver a metabolic jolt or a fat burning kick.
THINK TWICE BEFORE RELYING ON THESE PURPORTED WEIGHT LOSS AIDS
- Appetite Suppressants
- More than 250 mg Caffeine per dose or over 700 mg per day (or caffeine plus other stimulants)
As bears repeating, I can’t address every valuable supplement in a single article, but I feel obliged to add a short list of other compounds I’ve found to be valuable in improving performance, recovery, balance, or overall health. This is not intended to be a complete list and over time I’ll provide far more insight related to both top-selling and little-known supplements that find their place in health, fitness, and fat loss programs.
OTHER “THUMBS UP” MENTIONS
- Bovine Colostrum
- Colloidal Silver
- Blue Green Algae
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
- Electrolyte Formulas
- Collagen Peptides
- Branched Chain Amino Acids
- Glucosamine, Chondroitin, MSM formulas
WRAP UP NOTES
- Protein powders are a mainstay for most pursuing physique development or positive shifts in body composition.
- NAD+ is novel and finding its place as a worthwhile anti-aging “supplement” although to date, slow drip IV’s seem to have the most promising result.
- NAD precursors (i.e. NMN) are gaining a fair amount of evidence of value over time.
The truth is, while all of the people who visited with me for a supplement assessment were committed to spending, swallowing, and spending again, few were able to pinpoint any direct quantifiable value of any of the individual supplements.
No article can truly address all of the available supplements in relation to all of the conditions they may play a role in treating, but a personal medical consult and evaluation can do a pretty good job at ensuring three things.
- That you’re taking things that may offer benefit in your personal circumstance
- That you aren’t taking any compounds that may negatively interact with others
- That you’re set up to sensibly evaluate outcomes and make shifts accordingly
Set up a full Drug and Supplement Review with me and Dr. David Blyweiss. It runs about 45 minutes, you’ll complete some forms in advance, and we’ll do our best to ensure we leave you with the three certainties above. For those who have an arsenal of pills and capsules mixed into a semi-daily regimen, the $185 price is a bargain and is sure to save you money on unnecessary purchases in the near future.