Imagine this scenario —
“I survived the week-long school trip without getting sick like last time.”
“Wow – with all those kids? Good hygiene, I bet.”
“Maybe, but I safeguarded with echinacea, zinc and high-dose Vitamin C.”
“Didn’t you tell me you started probiotics beforehand, too?”
“Yep – my trifecta plus one! I just needed something to make a difference.”
“Uh, okay. But how do you know which ‘thing’ did the trick?”
— silence —
Immune-enhancing products are akin to a muscle-building arsenal because many weightlifters try everything all at once like the first person in our story. Starting a thermogenic, pre-workout formula, creatine, NO booster, and recovery drink at the same time is like a “throw everything at the wall and see what sticks” approach.
To enhance the effects of rigorous training and a nutritious diet, many people use ergogenic aids to reach top shape or peak performance. And the most popular ergogenic aids are dietary supplements. The term “stack” 15 years ago referred to a product with combined ingredients that had similar effects, such as herbal stimulants or androgens.
Now, it’s about stacking multiple supplements (often with proprietary blends) within the day. Most often targeted for gaining muscle and losing fat, stacking various supplements is promoted for gains in the weight room. The idea is that by grouping supplements together there may be a synergy of certain ingredients that combine to create greater advantages.
For single-ingredient preparations, it makes sense to take more than one dietary supplement, as they have different methods of action and are useful at different times. But by starting several compound supplements at once, it’s more difficult to determine which are effective – particularly if there are 6-8 products on the list! I recommend taking no more than four while ProResults® Master Trainer Geoff Fox advises avoiding performance-enhancing supplements (your wallet will thank us).
For those of you that are stacking your supplements, here are some tips for evaluating product effectiveness and safety:
- Continue your normal diet and exercise routine.
- Maintain consistency with your multivitamin/mineral, fish oil, protein, and other basic dietary supplements.
- Wait at least two weeks before adding another supplement to your stack. Take the time to observe for any side effects.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Continue step-wise until your stack is complete.
- Follow all safety guidelines on each product’s instructions for use.
- If stacking supplements with the same ingredients, check for guidelines on absolute maximums. (e.g., 400 mg caffeine/day per U.S. Food & Drug Administration, Health Canada, and European Food Safety Authority)