When it comes to supplements for BJJ, or any other sport for that matter, almost everybody giving you advice is lying to you. Or at the very least, deluded by wishful thinking. And just to alienate even more people, by the term ‘supplements’ we’re including most vitamins, minerals, ergogenic aids, pre-workout drinks, post-workout shakes, homeopathic medicine, herbal concoctions, chinese medicine, and all the other products offered by the supplement-industrial complex.
Many of the supplements used by grapplers and MMA fighters originate in the bodybuilding world. But bodybuilding books, magazines, and websites are a horrible place to get information about supplements because there’s a ton of money to be made pandering to the dreams of skinny adolescent boys.
Remember inosine? There was a time when the magazines were full of 300 lb steroid gobbling monsters with 5% bodyfat swearing high and low that inosine was the key to their immense bulk and shreddedness. Nobody takes inosine now. The list of where-are-they-now supplenents grows longer every year: Inosine, Dimethylglycine, Trimethylglycine, Selenium, Hornet Juice, Turtle Blood Soup etc.
The main strategy of the supplement industry is to stay one step ahead of the science. It’s easy to make wild claims about the miraculous properties of fermented Siberian horsetail.
For anyone else to test or debunk those claims requires multiple double blind randomised trials. But doing multiple, double blind, randomised, peer-reviewed trials requires a boatload of time, money and academic brainpower. Setting up proper experiments is a huge and very complicated undertaking. Is it actually in best interest of the supplement companies to spend the time and money to do this research? Do they really want to take the risk that their product doesn’t work, or isn’t safe? We think not!
The built-in delay that occurs between the release of a new supplement and its debunking gives the promoter/manufacturer/distributor/retailer of fermented Siberian horsetail a couple of years to profit from their foul-tasting capsules. A couple of years to fleece unwitting customers. And a couple of years to line up their next wunderproduct that they can promote once people become disillusioned with their last supplement.
Basically supplement manufacturers spout false claims based on bad science faster than anyone can possibly debunk them. Whenever someone tells you about a hot new supplement, follow the money! Ask yourself who’s benefiting from sharing information about a given supplement with you? The ancient Roman orator Lucius Cassius said it best, “cui bono?” – who benefits?”
For example, take those big, shiny bodybuilding magazines. Did you know that subscription and newstand revenues don’t even come close to covering the production costs of those magazines? The profit in those magazines comes from selling advertising space, and those advertisements are mostly to sell supplements.
And then there are the fake blogs which rant and rave about the magical effects of a given supplement. Fake, fake, fake! Google has cracked down on this a little bit, but we’re still dealing with a multi-billion dollar industry sot the same rats who were doing this originally have now found different tricks.
The sad truth is that elite bodybuilders get that way because they combine good genetics, heavy lifting, and enormous amounts of chicken breasts with anabolic steroids, insulin and growth hormone injections.
And it’s no different when it comes to other sports.
Cyclists winning the Tour de France doped to the gills. Once upon a time they thought that smoking cigarettes before a race ‘opened up the lungs’, but things have come a long way since then. Now they’re using EPO and stimulants for endurance, steroids for recovery, and a dog’s breakfast of other illegal drugs. A top cyclist may credit their admittedly incredible achievements to hornet juice or kale shakes, but it’s all a smokescreen. The reality is that legal supplements have very little to do with it.
Most UFC fighters are currently on steroids. Or, at the very least, have done steroids at some point in their training cycle.
Consider that there have been quite a few fighters have been busted for steroids. The most shocking thing is that many of them actually had quite average physiques. So if these guys are on the sauce then what does that tell you about the guys who could respectably compete in a bodybuilding competition?
And it’s not just MMA: More and more BJJ and submission grappling competitors are doing the same thing. In the defence of these athletes it’s not all about getting huge and cut – often the steroids are mostly to help them recover from the beating they take during training.
In the context of this discussion, it doesn’t actually matter why elite athletes use illegal doping agents. But when your favourite UFC fighter says that Xyience Xenergy allows him to train for 8 hours a day and then pretends to sip from a closed can at his post-fight interview he’s misleading you. You could start his training camp in fantastic shape and drink Xenergy by the caseload, but unless you were also using all his other illegal supplements your body would fall apart within a couple of days.
Yes, some supplements do work. But if you’re ingesting chemicals produced in a lab then there’s always the possibility that you’re doing yourself short term or long term harm without knowing it.
Remember Thalidomide? This drug was distributed in the 1950’s and 1960’s as a cure for morning sickness, but ended causing up to 20,000 horrible birth defects in newborn children. Whoops! Keep in mind that Thalidamide and other medical drugs go through a stringent regulatory process before they’re released on the market. But despite safeguards, tests, and clinical trials there are STILL mistakes, accidents and occasional nation-wide recalls.
Now, considering that the regulation of supplements is a joke compared to medical drugs, how many more mistakes would you expect? Sure, there’s testing. And maybe the supplement in its pure form is safe. But what if the actual supplement that’s on the shelves was produced in some Chinese factory that reuses industrial sludge from a neighboring computer-chip manufacturing facility? Or forgot to extract some carcinogenic solvent at the end of the process. Or added God-knows-what to your creatine powder.
The supplement aisles are full of giant containers of preworkout drinks and supplements right now. And at some gyms that at least half the ironheads pound back scoopfulls of this stuff before hitting the weights. SuperPump Max. NO XPlode. Jack3D. Cell Tech Super-Pump 5000 Max with multiple proprietary intra-cellular nano-peptide trans-lysosomic activation factors. Blah, blah, blah.
These preworkout formulas emphasise their unique ingredients (“…now with even more L Citrulline…“) but the reality is that most of them are absolutely loaded with caffeine and sugar. Weird, huh?
My contention is that most of the effect of these preworkout drinks comes from the caffeine and sugar, and has nothing to do with the molecularly distilled trans-lysosomic activation factors so proudly advertised on the front of the bottle. If you were to slam down four espressos before training you’d feel pretty pumped too. Not to mention that damn placebo effect!
Even more worrisome is that the long-term effects of taking L citrulline, L-leucine, L-taurine, L-ornithine-L-aspartate, L-carnitine-L-tartrate or any of the other proprietary formulations that go into these energy drinks is completely unknown. If one of those compounds ends up being nephrotoxic and sends you into kidney failure 10 years down the road then it’s likely the company that sold it to you will fold its tent and you won’t even be able to sue anybody. But you’ll have a lot of time to sit and think about those stupid proprietary supplements when you’re hooked up to the dialysis machine.
When it comes to performing well in a sport like BJJ (and living a long, healthy life) it’s important to think about the things that you keep out of your body as well as what you take in. Some people have crappy diets and try to compensate for this with lots of supplements, but this is backwards thinking.
If you’re eating at McDonalds more than once a year then worrying about which supplements you should be taking is stupid – it’s like a smoker worrying about the carcinogenic effect of pesticides on their tomatoes. If you’re eating trans fat, or ingesting tons of sugar, or using artificial sweeteners then there’s no point in taking any supplement until you clean up your diet.
Take the low-hanging fruit first by cleaning up your diet, because your diet is your biggest, most important supplement! However, here’s a short list of
Ready? Here goes:
The biggest effect of most supplements is to make your urine more expensive. The few supplements that do work may not be safe. Most new supplements are backed up with shoddy science at best. Supplements have nothing to do with the performance of elite athletes who are mostly using illegal drugs. The placebo effect is real. The benefits of diet, hydration and rest far outweigh the effects of any legal supplement.
Feb 08, 2016 0
Mar 08, 2016 0
Oct 01, 2017 0
Jan 19, 2016 0Kimura lock is one of the most effective and brutal submission holds in...