It’s not enough to buy supplements; you actually have to take them too. As dumb as that sounds, it’s more relevant than you’d think. How often have you missed a day of creatine or forgotten to take your multi? I recently spoke with Victor Conte (yes, that Victor Conte,) and he told a story that illustrates this problem.
“In 1985, and I was working with the world fastest swimmer at the time, Matt Biondi. He was the 50- and 100-meter world record holder,” says Conte, owner of SNAC supplements who currently coaches several pro athletes, including UFC light heavyweight contender Kyle Kingsbury and pro boxing champion Nonito Donaire. “Part of the reason his coaches were pleased with our results with Matt is that before we worked with him he would run out of gas at about 125 meters and people would beat him at the end of a 200 meters. We identified that he was depleted in magnesium. After using a bioavailable form of magnesium supplementation for a period of time, he broke the American record for the 200 meters at nationals that year.”
Giving his athletes monthly blood testing in order to detect nutritional deficiencies and uncover signs of overtraining, such as elevated levels of creatine phosphokinase, is a strategy Conte has successfully used with his athletes for years. (For most recreational athletes and amateur bodybuilders, it’s a level of attention we can only dream about.)
The coaching staff at University of California Berkeley, where Biondi attended at the time, decided to invest in Conte for their whole team. Conte and his staff tested all 32 members and provided personalized supplement programs for each athlete, based on their individual blood test results. After 30 days, Conte returned to retest the athletes.
“The coach got the team together and said, ‘Doing all this testing costs a lot of money. If you guys have not been religious in your compliance you need to tell us right now,’” says Conte. “The guy’s who raised their hands and said they had religious compliance was eight out of 32. Twenty-five percent.”
These were guys who had Olympic aspiration but 75 percent of them couldn’t be bothered to adhere to a supplement regimen. It’s a cognitive dissonance that’s difficult to explain away. Sometimes the hard stuff is easy, and the easy stuff comes hard. Conte sums it up this way: “As they say, it’s not enough to know what to do. You have to do what you know.”
Are you doing what you know?
About the Author:
Mike Carlson is a certified personal trainer through the National Academy of Sports Medicine and an Ironman triathlon finisher. He has been writing about fitness and nutrition for over 15 years.