A well known pharmaceutical company recently reported results of a clinical trial for a medicine to prevent migraine. Patients enrolled were experiencing approximately 18 migraine episodes per month and had not been taking any medicine to prevent their headaches. As is customary in this trials, some patients were given the medicine while others, unknowingly, were taking placebo. After 12 weeks of treatment, both groups experienced a significant reduction in migraine episodes.

Of course, the placebo effect reality is nothing new, but reading about the trial made me wonder whether my fitness supplements aren’t anything more than placebo. For one, they don’t have to be tested by the FDA for safety or efficacy. In this sense, it is a free market.

Assuming they are all harmless but also detached of any demonstrable benefits, I thought it would be a decent idea to make a list of everything I take on a daily basis, quantify their cost and, perhaps, eliminate all but one pill. That one pill should be cheap and provide all the placebo I need in one day.

I would’ve never guessed I spend $218.25/month in supplements.

I spend way more in my personal training sessions, but my perceived value of them is higher than what I pay. So I pay happily. And sometimes I spend $200 in one date night and I’m angry.

Supplements are somewhere in between. Here’s the breakdown:

  1. Protein powder (100% whey, natural sugar): $111.55 per month. I consume 4 servings of 24g of protein. Two in the morning and two in the evening. It goes in the blender along with a) almond milk, 8oz., b) almond butter, 1 tablespoon, c) mixed berries, a handful, d) one banana, e) mixed greens, a handful, f) creatine powder, morning only.
  2. ZMA (Zinc Monomethionine Aspartate): $12.08 per month. Supposedly good for recovery. I take three capsules before bed.
  3. Fish oil softgels: $2.38 per month. I only take one pill per day. Recommended dose is 3 to 6 pills per day.
  4. Creatine powder (micronized, whatever this means): $4.14 per month. This is probably the most touted product of the last 20 years. I haven’t looked for the research that proves this works. One tablespoon in the mornings with my protein shake.
  5. BCAA (branched-chain amino-acids): $13.38 per month. Just one serving per day, in the evenings after my workouts.
  6. Opti-Men (multivitamin): $5.04 per month. One tablet per day; recommended dose is 3 tablets.
  7. Aggressive Strength Testosterone Booster: $34.84 per month. Oh boy, here we go: internet is full of articles and research showing that T boosters are all a myth. Yet it is my most expensive supplement. The problem is… what if it works? It was also highly recommended by a guy (Steve C.) who graduated from Kokoro Camp. I feel compelled to follow his advice. He trained religiously for two years but maybe it was the T booster and not his grit what made him triumph through the 50-hour camp.
  8. Restorezyme for Workout Recovery: $34.84 per month. Also recommended by Steve. How could I not take a supplement with such a powerful name?

I’m writing this and my brain is telling me to stick with the protein powder and the creatine. Drop everything else.

But perhaps not. Supplements are God… and my name is Blaise Pascal.

(click on the link to see Pascal’s Wager).

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