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GUEST BLOG: Supplements, by Ben Grey

Really pleased to have another guest blog. Ben Grey is a (deep breath) Strength & Conditioning coach, an EIF Master Trainer, an EIF Certified Exercise Specialist, a Fitness & Motivation Coach (ACSM Endorsed), an EIF Certified Nutrition Coach alongside having a BSC (Hons) in Accounting & Finance (1st Class). Running a busy and successful Gym in North Swindon, Ben still manages to continually learn and develop, currently enrolled in the Body Type Nutrition (BTN) Academy.

I have trained with Ben, with great success, and highly recommend that you check out Ben’s website and facebook page – linked at the bottom.

Over to Ben!

I decided to write to you about supplements as I often receive questions about particular supplements from clients.  I hope you find this useful!

Firstly I would like to reiterate that I am not a nutritionist or a dietician and most PT’s and S&C coaches aren’t either.  I will not be prescribing or advising that you should or shouldn’t take something and neither should others without appropriate training and qualifications.  I am however a nutritional coach and as such I can offer you some information to consume and point you in the direction of good sources of further reading.  You are a grown adult and as such can make your own hopefully informed decisions!


So first off lets look at what supplementation means, the dictionary definition goes something like this:

“Something added to complete a thing, make up for a deficiency, or extend or strengthen the whole.”

The key thing to take from this is that it is a later step to help complete your nutritional approach not the first.  It helps to extend or strengthen an already sound fundamental approach.  I have written about this before and as a broad outline I would recommend getting the following things down before worrying about supplementation:

  1. Drink more water
  2. Eat more colourful vegetables (not talking about potatoes, chips, crisps here!)
  3. Eat more protein
  4. Eat healthy fats regularly
  5. Exercise more
  6. Manage your carbohydrates
  7. Cut down on fizzy drinks, takeaways and fast food

I realise these are broad and some may be more or less applicable to each person but for most people I have dealt with these things should come first before worrying about supplementation.

Now assuming that you are doing these things there can be a lot of benefits to supplementation for some people.  Today I will simply cover two of the most used and researched supplements.  If you have an interest in these or any other supplements two great resources that are free online are Precision Nutrition and Examine.

Precision Nutrition Blog



Creatine is one of the most researched supplements out there.  I would encourage you to have a look at some of this research at either PN or Examine if you are thinking about adding this to your diet.  The general consensus is that it helps with recovery and thus you can train more intensely and still recover in time for your next workout.  There is some research that suggests it can even increase brain function and may have positive effects relating to specific diseases.  Usually a dose of 3-5g a day is plenty.  This is something that naturally occurs in the body and what we are doing here is giving that naturally occurring dose some additional help.  Personally I use this every day in a protein shake.  Timing is often discussed, for most people this supplement can be taken any time throughout the day.  If you have a particularly hard training schedule say for example you are a professional athlete or looking to go to Rio then reading up more on timing may be worthwhile.  For the rest of us find a slot that works and see if you feel any benefits.  This in itself is a key point.  Whenever you are adding a supplement to your diet, know why you are adding it, see if you feel any benefits and if you don’t think about saving yourself some money and stop taking it!  If it works for you and you feel you are getting something then by all means go ahead……but try to avoid going with the generally accepted gym chatter and take some responsibility for what goes into your body!


Whey Protein is added to so many people’s diet I figured I had best talk about this as well.  Protein is one of the 3 main macro nutrients, alongside Fat and Carbohydrates.  The guidelines differ depending on your training volume and the source of the guidelines.  Again it is generally accepted that something between 0.8g/kg BW and 2g/kg BW is about right.  So if you weigh 100kg then you would be looking at 80g-200g of protein per day as a guide.  That is protein not meat!  So make sure you check the protein content of your food if you are trying to work out portion sizes.

If you are getting enough protein from real food then there really isn’t a need to supplement.  That said some people find it hard to get to their protein requirements for the day.  Especially if you have a high training volume, lots of muscle and/or lots of bodyweight.  Protein powder offers a pretty versatile to fit some good food into your diet in a quick and easy way that can support a hectic lifestyle.  I often add several handfuls of spinach, some avocado, a small amount of frozen fruit and some milk to my protein shakes for a meal in minutes…..usually for me this is something that fits in as a mid morning or mid afternoon snack, but I have clients who find this a good way to get breakfast in, especially if they previously didn’t eat breakfast.

With so many choices of brands and flavours out there I would recommend trying a few, buy smaller containers at first even if they work out a little more expensive per serving until you find one that you like.  Some people find that they don’t agree with certain brands or flavours.  Others find it doesn’t work for them at all.  If you are lactose intolerant for example this may not work as Whey comes from milk.  However some people who are lactose intolerant find Whey protein is fine.  There are many other forms of protein including Vegan options, pea protein, rice protein and all sorts of others.  Read the labels and see how much protein you get per serving.  Some will have different amino acid profiles as well so you may need to combine powders to get all the essential amino acids in.  Once again read up about this, decide on a brand and flavour that works for you, see if it fits with your lifestyle, training etc and make an informed decision that it is or isn’t for you!  

I hope this blog has been useful!  If you have any questions or comments feel free to get in touch!

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You Cubed Performance Website

N.B. There are no ‘one size fits all’ style quick fixes in most injury scenarios, so these article shouldn’t be seen as such. They are merely guides to a better understanding of how our bodies work.

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