Supplement Interview: Darren Beattie

Supplement Interview: Darren Beattie

By on September 23, 2022

Darren Beattie is a Fitness Coach and Tech Entrepreneur based out of Vancouver, BC. He is the former Head Strength and Conditioning coach for the University of British Columbia’s Football team, an accomplished multi-sport athlete, and an active fitness and nutrition contributor to Quora. Presently he divides his time fairly evenly between coaching in person and working on his fitness tech startup — Fitnack. Presently in Beta, Fitnack is an online fitness and nutrition coaching app built from the ground up to provide the accountability of a real coach, combined with practical applicable advice, delivered at a much more affordable cost than in-person coaching.

 

He also blogs semi-regularly at Skill Based Fitness, on various training and nutrition topics. You can follow him on twitter @darren_beattie or Quora.

 

1. What is the reason you’re taking supplements?

 

To supplement my diet on occasion. I have no strong reason to supplement and to be honest, I’m not very big on it. It largely just makes things a little bit easier, until you can help someone get their diet a little more balanced and in order. It’s also an unregulated industry, so you never really know what you’re getting. I’d personally feel better if it were regulated but who knows if that will ever happen. Stick with well known companies/brands, and I generally favour brands that use some kind of 3rd party testing procedure like Biosteel or Inner Armour.

 

2. What current supplements are you taking?

Nothing consistently. I use a high quality protein supplement on occasion for convenience and to add to shakes on training days. Mostly only when I’m in a rush, I prefer a good meal over a shake.

I use a powdered/flavoured BCAA during workouts or just before workouts on occasion, more for the low calorie energy it can provide than anything else. I’m more likely to reach for this option if I feel dehydrated or hungry and I’m too close to a workout period (I often train between clients because cancelations happen). These days I’m probably more a victim of Placebo effect here but an increased total intake of BCAA’s probably isn’t going to do any harm either and helps me keep my protein intake at around 1.8 grams per kg.

I occasionally take a Greens+ supplement as insurance for my veggie intake, which sometimes feels lower than it should be, for instance during the winter when not as much good quality local produce is available and I’m stuck with mostly root vegetables.

I occasionally take a probiotic, when I’m not eating yogurt, sauerkraut, or kimchi regularly (which I almost always am).

I occasionally take a moderate dose Vitamin D3 supplement in the winter because it’s grey, not a lot of sun during the winter in Vancouver.

I have used fish oil in the past, but now I just try to eat more fish, more free range eggs, and more pastured raised meat. Typically I have fish most days of the week, especially sardines/anchovies/mackerel and salmon.

I have used Creatine in the past but only when I have a very rigorous training schedule and I haven’t been doing really rigorous training in a few years, given that I have a full time training business and an internet start up to worry about.

I used sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) to increase my time to fatigue when I played sports, however, that’s not really a ‘supplement’ though it is something few people seem to know about, at least for athletic training. It basically lets you stay in a game a little longer and maintain a higher power output. It doesn’t work for weight training FYI, unless you have marathon level sessions.

 

 

3. What’s the most recent supplement you’ve recently added? Why? Have you noticed a difference since you added it?

 

It’s been years since I added anything really, but probably Vitamin D is the most recent. I have a lot of vitamin D in my diet already but the winter here can make me feel sluggish, some added Vitamin D and a daylight lamp seemed to help improve my mood and energy levels (as I write this we’re closing in on the shortest day of the year — Dec 21st) and so I manage to get more done probably. 

I generally try not to rely on ‘feeling’ a difference for any supplements. Research shows that being told something is effective can make it mildly effective, it’s called the Placebo effect and it plagues the supplement world. There are really very few good supplements out there worth taking and most of them should really be prescribed by a medical practitioner of some kind after blood work is done. My blood work has always been good. I checkExamine.com for the latest research on supplements and few are worth the money, or have very limited uses like Ashwagandha (Indian Gingsing) which has the tiniest bit of evidence suggesting it might improve time to fatigue and strength. You can’t really draw a conclusion about any supplement until it’s had 3 – 5 high quality studies done on it and few actually have that.

 

 

 

4. Are there any supplements that you used to take but you stopped? Why did you remove it? Did you notice an improvement after removing it?

 

I’m always starting and stopping, usually not for any particular reason other than seasonal. Most 

people should be careful with supplements. I rarely feel ‘blah’ for any other reason than a lack of sleep. I’ve been to the doctor twice in the previous eight years, once to remove my appendix, the other to look at a sore throat that wouldn’t go away. I get check ups like blood work and necessary screenings, when I can so that I have stuff to compare to later in life, but they never turn anything up, so I don’t feel the need for any wild or crazy experimentation. 
I took a mass gainer when I was 18 – 19, in hindsight it was stupid, but I was probably burning 5000 – 6000 kcal a day in sport and having a very hard time meeting my energy requirements. It was mostly just crap, as most mass gainers are just sugars and some protein. It made me jittery. I switched to drinking more milk at the time and felt a lot better, it wasn’t a gallon a day or anything but maybe 2 liters or so. Obviously that would be a problem for someone who was lactose intolerant, but if I could go back in time I would have made more protein shakes loaded with veggies/fruits and probably oats/nuts for before and after practice at least. I’ve been given a LOT of samples of supplements over the years and most of them end up in the garbage.

 

 

 

5. What’s the most unexpected or surprising or least-common supplement you’re currently taking? Why are you taking this one?

 

‘Unexpected’ and ‘least common’ are probably two words you should avoid with supplements. If you’re taking a supplement that isn’t very common, it probably means there is very little research supporting its use. It’s unlikely that you’re ‘that’ ahead on the research that you’re using some mystical powerful supplement that no one else knows about. 

If you go into using supplements with the impression that you’re going to get a unique ‘edge’ or ‘advantage’ taking something that no one else is taking, the only way you’re going to get that advantage is through the placebo effect. Which might not necessarily be a bad thing, when you give people a placebo and tell them it’s testosterone, they get a better strength training result that people told it’s just sugar.

However, there are risks in taking anything for long periods of time. Hence why I recommend going on and off things anyway or using them sparingly.

There are no real mysteries surrounding supplement taking these days, like I said, just go to Examine.com and you can get a lot of great high quality information about any supplement for free. I trust many of the contributing researchers and reviewers there. I wouldn’t even consider taking one that didn’t have at least some research to support its use for a situation that seemed relevant to an individual. Most of that research is based on pathological situations (like diabetics) or athletic (athletes) and well the majority of the population falls outside of those two areas, so there is little research showing much effect for the average person that has no specific objective. Right now I’m not training for anything very specific, just trying to maintain.

All that being said, I find sodium bicarbonate is probably the one that most people won’t have heard of on my list above. It’s dirt cheap, as in next to free (compared to most supplements) but has been shown to improve duration of performance in sport. If you’re an endurance athlete or a power athlete out there, consider trying it out, it tastes awful when mixed with water but you can hide the flavour with a little lime/lemon juice.

Also stick to very small amounts, it can cause gastrointestinal stress/discomfort.

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