It seems like every day, there’s a new superfood or hot new nutrient combo that promises youth, fitness and better overall health. Keeping up with the latest nutritional trends and recommendations can be daunting—to say nothing of taking multiple supplements every morning, noon and night.
Supplement stacking is the answer to this problem. Instead of taking ten different supplements at any given time, you can reduce the number while increasing overall effectiveness. The key is finding synergistic supplements, or nutrients that enhance each other’s properties. Some supplements even combine different nutrients to achieve that goal, while other people may choose to use a few separate ones.
Here's your crash course in supplement stacking.
What kind of combination do I need?
To decide which kind of supplement stack you need, first, you need to consider your goals. Why are you taking supplements? Popular reasons include:
- Weight or fat loss
- Building muscle and stamina
- Boosting cognitive function and focus
- Preventing disease and improving immune function
- Easier workout recovery
- Better sleep
- Mood and mental wellness
It’s usually best to focus on one goal to start your stack. Once you’ve decide what your priorities are, it’s time to find the right synergistic combinations to enhance your overall performance.
Finding the right stack for your needs
Here are a few popular combinations that you can try—and don’t forget to do your own research. Some supplement stacks are dependent on timing for maximum efficacy.
- Building muscle mass and stamina: Creatine, beta-alanine, whey and casein protein can help you guarantee muscle mass gains. These proteins and amino acids work together to build up your muscles while increasing your overall stamina as a result.
- Strength goals: Betaine, taurine and wheat germ work together to build strength. The wheat germ is a slow-digesting carb that can help you power through your workout, while betaine and taurine builds up muscle fiber and boosts muscular contractions, increasing strength.
- Weight loss: Evodiamine, green tea and caffeine are your keys to better weight loss. Evodiamine boosts your metabolic rate and fights hunger cravings, while green tea’s antioxidants improve your immune system and burn fat. Caffeine is also great at burning fat and reducing fat storage—plus, it’ll wake you up just in time for that early morning workout.
- Increased energy: Feeling tired all the time? Combine caffeine, CoQ-10 and tyrosine to get going. CoQ-10 produces ATP, which helps muscle cells contract (like when you lift weights). Tyrosine helps produce a number of hormones and neurotransmitters, including dopamine—that “reward” neurotransmitter that can make working out or staying awake feel a lot better. And, of course, you already know what kind of benefits caffeine offers.
- Mood booster: When your mood plummets, stacking beta-phenylethylamine, rhodiola rosea and 5-HTP can help. Beta-phenylethylamine can boost your dopamine and serotonin production, while rhodiola rosea increases resistance to different kinds of stress. 5-HTP is a byproduct of tryptophan (yes, the same ingredient in turkey that makes us all fall asleep before the dishes are done on Thanksgiving). It goes straight to the brain and is converted into serotonin and melatonin, which regulate mood and your sleep cycle.
A word of caution
As always, when you’re adding new supplements to your routine, it’s important to talk to your doctor first. Some supplements may cause allergic reactions, drug interactions or otherwise be inappropriate for your individual needs. While the scientific benefits of these stacks are well-researched, it’s always smart to consult a professional.
What about superstacking?
“Superstacking,” or taking multiple stacks of multiple nutrients, is popular in bodybuilding circles. Again, this is a good time to talk to your doctor about your overall goals, your fitness routine and your diet. In some cases, you might be getting too much of one nutrient, between the stacks and your diet. When these nutrients are water-soluble, they’ll be purged in urine—but if they’re not, you’ll want to make sure they don’t jeopardize your overall health.
The bottom line
Generally, stacking your supplements is safe and effective. Whichever supplement stacks you try, we think you’ll find them a smarter way to boost your body and brain’s performance. Whether you’re trying to get some sweet gains, bro, or get a better night’s sleep, these nutrient combinations will help you achieve your goals.