Disclaimer #1: The only supplement I ever take is Vitamin D. Because, Canada.

Disclaimer #2: If you do what I tell you to do in this post, I make money.

For those of you not getting the Canada reference, it’s where I live. For six months out of the year the sun doesn’t get that high in the sky, and so taking Vitamin D is probably a good idea.

I’ve written for the LA Times about how, unless you’re questing to pose on stage all hyper-muscled, waxed, oily and speedo-ed (and possibly taking anabolic steroids), then you probably don’t need to take a protein supplement.

I’ve also written for my syndicated Chicago Tribune column about creatine, and what it is, and is not, for. In that piece I explained that I tried the stuff years ago as a rookie weightlifter, but only for a couple of weeks. I’m certainly not against its use. Hell, there may come a day in the future when I decide to give it a real go. For now, however, I remain supplement free, except for the D.

It’s kind of a Zen thing with me.

Now I’m not saying this is the way you should be. I don’t judge people for anything they decide to put in their bodies, even anabolic steroids. But I am going to get totally unscientific for a moment to describe why I don’t take supplements.

I spoke of being Zen. It’s been over 20 years since I got in shape, and in all that time, my motivation for fitness has never floundered. In case you weren’t aware, this is rare. I’ve seen many supplement-scarfing friends wax and wane in the dedication to exercise and eating healthy. Since the day I saw that flabby vacation photo in September of 1993 and decided to start working out, my dedication to a fit lifestyle has done nothing but grow.

For me, I get a Zen feeling from knowing that 100% of my results come from hard work and real food. It helps me stay motivated. Oh, and drinking Gatorade during a marathon totally doesn’t count.

Anyway, I’m weird. I admit it. You wanna take supplements, you go.

But go the smart way. Go the educated, informed, scientific way. By the way, there are plenty of supplements with health benefits that have nothing to do with strength, size, physical performance, or leanness. I’m going to get to that.

Now is the part where we get to me making money.

Sol Orwell is the entrepreneur behind Examine.com. The company has a supplement reference guide to sell. If you click the link I provide at the end of this post to buy that reference guide, I get a commission. No, I’m not giving you the link yet. I want you to read a little more first.

First, a brief interview with Sol.

“I’m a computer engineer and very analytical by nature,” he told me. He explained that his motivation to create a repository of supplement information in regards to efficacy and safety on the web arose out of a sense of frustration. “You would ask about something on a forum, people would chime in, and then that information would eventually be lost. We wanted to build something that could be used as a reference for years down the road.”

“The #1 obsession was to be independent and neutral,” Orwell said. “There are no recommended brands or products. In the early days it was all about developing a reputation for reliable information. The main income source is selling the reference guide.”

And it’s a helluva guide. It’s over a thousand pages long, going into lots of detail on a long list of supplements. “It quickly lets you look up any supplement,” Sol said. It also lets you also look up health goals and see what works and what doesn’t.”

And that’s the important part of this message. “It goes way beyond sports and bodybuilding,” he said. You can look up health issues like what supplements are effective for sleep or diabetes or even polycystic ovarian syndrome.”

If you take any supplements, it’s worth your money to get this guide and be well informed about what objective science has to say in regards to their efficacy for a host of desired outcomes. You can find out how strong the evidence is supporting use, what doses are recommended, along with additional comments to clarify any issues of ambiguity.


For a super limited time though. And it’s started just a couple of hours ago before I posted this article and ends in only 60 hours.

Until midnight (eastern) on Thursday, March 19 reference guide along with their stack guides are available for up to 40% off.

So please use this link to buy the reference guide, and I get money too.

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James S. Fell is an internationally syndicated fitness columnist for the Chicago Tribune and author of Lose it Right: A Brutally Honest 3-Stage Program to Help You Get Fit and Lose Weight Without Losing Your Mind, published by Random House Canada. He also interviews celebrities about their fitness stories for the Los Angeles Times, and is head fitness columnist for AskMen.com.