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Basic Supplement Buying Guide
Get The Best Bang For Your Buck By Shopping Intelligently
(Note: None of these are affiliate links, these are all products I trust and have personally taken myself, I have zero affiliation with any products — simply high quality supplements)
There are many supplements out there that can improve your performance in the gym, your general health, and help expedite the process of fat gain or muscle growth, depending on your goal.
There are so many in fact that spending $500+ dollars a month would be what you were looking at if you bought them without thinking about what ingredients you actually need, and sometimes a formula can eliminate the need to buy multiple supplements.
Fortunately, many high quality supplement brands put together formulas, so instead of getting one ingredient, you are getting multiple for a much better deal for your money.
I’m going to list some of my favorite supplements I take regularly, and a cost effective way to get them without breaking the bank.
Buy In Bulk Or By Formula
The two ways we’re going to be able to save the most money is either buying in bulk, or finding formulas with what we need in effective doses.
We have to look at what we’re taking and if it’s feasible to get in a formula or if we need to buy it in bulk.
Something like protein powder will need to be bought in bulk, and the bigger the order, the cheaper it is (especially useful if we are experiencing supply line issues and meats and other proteins aren’t on the shelves at stores.”
I used to buy creatine in bulk until I started taking Gorilla Mode pre workout—at 5g a serving, and 5g in my post workout recovery supplement, I no longer have the need to order creatine on its own.
Something like fish oil is probably going to be an individual purchase—I’ve never seen it in a formula and you probably don’t want to buy it in bulk.
I will do my best to capture every product and its cost feasibility for either formula or bulk purchasing, but for some items you will need to do a little bit of searching on Google to see if it makes sense.
There are a few supplements I think everyone should incorporate into their daily routine:
Fish/Krill Oil—We simply need this for brain and metabolic health. Also extremely good for your cardiovascular system. The formula I use is from Nordic Naturals—this is because it is a very high quality product AND has vitamin D3 included. LINK Cost - $28
Multivitamin—This is to ensure we are covering our basis for micronutrient health. The formula I have listed here is Thorne Basic Nutrients 2/Day. This product is high quality and has a large amount of vitamins/minerals that others don’t. Things like boron, zinc, magnesium, lutein, etc. LINK. Cost - $28
ZMA—Zinc and Magnesium are huge for pretty much all levels of functional health, from hormones, immunity, metabolism, sleep, you name it. We want to ensure we’re getting a good ZMA (Zinc Magnesium). The brand I’m recommending is actually ZMO, Zinc, Magnesium and Oyster—this is because this brand has the best forms of magnesium (glycinate) and zinc (picolinate). LINK. Cost - $24
These three supplements will more than cover your basis for general health. It will also cost you under $100—$80 to be exact—and these brands run 10-20% off promos pretty frequently.
Now we have our basis covered, the next thing we’ll dive into is actual supplements that will boost your workouts:
Protein Powder—The number one thing I’ll recommend? A protein powder, first and foremost. For some, this will be a convenient way to get protein into your diet and is extremely efficient to have after a workout. Where you get it matters and it doesn’t, as long as the source is good and high quality, it’ll work. On a budget I personally use True Nutrition ($13.99 per pound $27.98 for a month’s supply) LINK. If not, I use Granite Supplements which is more expensive, but a more versatile protein (whey, casein, beef, and egg protein. $44 for a month’s supply. LINK. Of course you can always get protein through real food, so this is obviously very optional.
Pre-Workout—This should come as no surprise to anyone who has followed me—I love Gorilla Mode Pre-Workout. It is the highest dosed pre-workout and has absolutely everything you’d need for a good product with the additions like creatine. LINK Cost $49 (expensive yes). If you do not like stimulants they have a great stim-free pump product Gorilla Mode Nitric. LINK Cost is $59 (extremely pricy). Again, this is optional, though I do love a good pre-workout for pump and/or energy.
Essential Amino Acids (EAA’s)—Some people—myself include—like to take EAA’s during cardio or during their workout to keep the body in an anabolic state—for this I use True Nutrition. LINK. These are much cheaper than other brands at $27.99 for 50 servings. (Note: unflavored, so use something like Mio to flavor your drink).
Creatine—If you decide you don’t want a pre-workout powder, but still want creatine for the benefits on both your muscles and cognitive function, again True Nutrition for creatine. LINK. The creatine is $19.89 for 250 servings at 2g a serving, so about 100 servings is 5g a serving.
This will cover your basis for supplements for your workouts. All of these are optional, but if you were to only add the preworkout, your grand total a month is $129, $150 if we add in the protein. Like the others, these companies run promos all the time so you can easily get 10-20% off these products as well.
Other General Health Supplements
We’ll break down the major ones I think someone could use for health, then I will give you formulas based on what makes sense. These can all be viewed as “bonus items”. You won’t necessarily need all of these, and these could absolutely run up the bill on your supplements per month, but we can still do this in a cost efficient manner.
Ubiquinol for heart health.
Citrus Bergamot for lipid profile.
Boron for free testosterone.
Tongkat Ali for testosterone.
Astragalus for kidney health.
Greens Powder for micronutrients and gut health.
NAC for mental, immune, and gut health.
Ashwagandha for cortisol and stress management.
We’ll start with a total heart formula. For specific formulas, for particular purposes, I use Revive Supplements—they have a good Heart, Lipid, Stress, Kidney, you name it formula—issue is the cost, if you only want a single ingredient it can be relatively high.
Heart Health—For general heart health, I personally use Revive Heart Formula LINK. This supplement has ubiquinol, vitamin D3, curcumin, among other ingredients. This alone is going to cut out your need for vitamin D3 while having curcumin for heart health. The cost is $59.99, but we also don’t need a D3 supplement as well as curcumin for inflammation.
Lipid Health—For lipids, a combination of fish/krill oil and citrus bergamot is going to be huge for improving our lipid profile. For this it’s more cost effective to use the ingredient itself than a formula by about 50%. I like Jarrows Citrus Bergamot LINK. For a cost of $26.97.
Boron—Boron is great for increasing free testosterone and is great for bone health. The best place for this is going to be NOW Brand LINK. Which can get you a 90 day supply for around $12.
Tongkat Ali—Tongkat Ali has been shown to increase testosterone pretty substantially—it also provides an energized nootropic type of feeling. Solaray has the best Tongkat Ali LINK. It is very cheap for $11.59 for a month’s supply.
Astragalus—If you’re taking any type of anabolics, or have less than optimal kidney values, astragalus is a must for kidney health. The best and most trusted brand is actually the Vitamin Shoppe brand LINK. A 30-60 day supply cost $8.99.
Greens Powder—If you do not like vegetables or struggle with gut health, a greens powder can be highly beneficial to you for getting your micronutrients, and pre-probiotics. I use Garden of Life Super Greens LINK. Cost is $32, but is set on auto-delivery so around $25.
NAC—NAC is a powerful antioxidant and precursor to glutathione, which can help remove toxins from our guts (where 90% of our serotonin is made) and improve cellular and immune health. NAC was recently removed from Amazon, but can still be found online. Life Extension has a high quality NAC supplement LINK. Cost is $10.50 for a 30-60 day supply.
Ashwagandha—Ashwagandha helps lower the stress hormone, cortisol. It promotes a nice feeling of relaxation and even well-being. I like to use ashwagandha after a lift to help my central nervous system calm down. Vitamin Shoppe again, has an extremely great product LINK. The 60 day supply comes in at a whopping $8.99.
If you bought every single item from this list, you would spend a whopping $170 dollars and this is without doing things like finding a single deal or giving your email for 10% off like all companies do.
There are plenty of formulas, but what I’ve found is the formulas typically cost more for the efficiency in some cases, or in others can actually be cheaper for what you need.
If you bought this entire list, then yes, you’d be spending $500 a month on supplements. However, aside from the basics, most of these are rather optional. For example, if you eat a lot of veggies, you don’t need a greens powder.
My Personal Musts
If I had to boil this list down to the products I consider essential for me to take it would look like this:
Which would come out to a whopping $209 and I typically get for around $150 after discounts and promo codes.
You do not need to break the bank to buy supplements, you also do not need to take a supplement if it’s already covered in your diet. They are, after all, “supplements”.
There are plenty more that have benefits you could take, but the main takeaway is we can buy supplements intelligently without going to the local supplement shop and dropping $300 a month on 3 things when we can get an abundance for a better price.
Saturday, on the Paid Substack, we will be going over methods of getting a quick, yet extremely effective workout. I will break down methods that can get you in and out of the gym in 30-45 minutes (even 20-30 if you manipulate your training split).
As many of you know BowTiedOx.com is now live LINK. This website is for all paying subscribers and gives you access to a week by week training program, workout library, calorie calculator, archived substacks, and even a video library coming soon.
Monday will be another episode of The Strong As An Ox Podcast, we are working on getting all future episodes on Spotify as it is the most used streaming platform for podcasts.
Sunday at 2:00pm EST I will be hosting a Twitter Spaces for all fitness and health questions and discussions, episodes will be recorded and put on Youtube and the website.
Until next time, keep after it and do whatever it takes!
This is not Legal, Medical, or Financial advice. Please consult a medical professional before starting any workout program, diet plan, or supplement protocol. These are opinions from a Cartoon Ox.