Stacking Creates Peace of Mind

In this series, I’m going to share some recipes for supplements. When you combine simple ingredients together like an apothecary, you’re “stacking supplements together.” There are many advantages to taking the time to do this.

As I’ve said repeatedly: Food should be your first and best source of nutrition. First concentrate on maximizing your progress with The 8 Patterns of Fitness. If you find you still need to fill gaps or get an extra boost, that’s when it’s time to look at pills, powders, and potions.

There are many pitfalls to avoid when buying supplements. You often don’t know, or cannot control, what you’re taking, since most products come pre-mixed “for your convenience.” Stacking gives you control, because you purchase only those ingredients you want from sources that you trust. You then decide on the serving size, and combine only what is useful and safe.


Stacking, part 1 of 4: The importance of knowing what’s in your products

If you are concerned about what is going onto or into your body, you need to know what has been put into your meals and other products. Go for the choices that have fewer ingredients, and go with the brands that use mostly or only ingredients you can pronounce and identify readily. Use this same standard for everything, not just food.

Stacking, part 2 of 4: Energy and muscle gains

This entry will break down the ingredients (as well as the functions of these individual products) to make an energizing, muscle-building stack. The recipe included in this article will address energy and focus, protein supplementation, and protecting hard-won muscles from breaking down.

Stacking, part 3 of 4: Losing body fat

This entry will break down the ingredients (as well as the functions of these individual products) to make a fat burning stack. The recipe included in this article will address various means of increasing your metabolism to burn calories before they are stored as fat.

Stacking, part 4 of 4: Skin Care

This entry will break down the ingredients to make natural skin care products. The recipes included in this article will focus on a deeply moisturizing body butter, as well as a moisturizing and exfoliating sugar scrub. 

In part one of this series I described the importance of knowing what is in your food and products. As a recap: Making your food from simple ingredients gives you a much better control over what you ingest. Similarly, creating (or stacking) your own combinations of single-ingredient components allows you to make supplements that do what you actually intend. The same is also true for beauty products. This entry will break down the ingredients (as well as the functions of these individual products) to make an energizing, muscle-building stack. The recipe I include in this article will address energy and focus, strength gains, protein supplementation, and protecting hard-won muscles from breaking down.


Choose one product from each row to create your stack. Please note that some of these ingredients have not been approved or confirmed by the FDA to provide the results claimed on their labels. Also, I suggest first using each supplement alone to see if you tolerate each individual component of your stack. Once you feel comfortable that your system can handle each ingredient, then put them together into your personalized stack.

Energy & Focus for muscle gains

Most pre-mixed products will include a wide range of ingredients, many of which bolster metabolism and prolong or intensify focus and exertion. The problem is that companies do not necessarily spell out their proprietary blends clearly on labels. Many other components are unintelligible to anyone but an organic chemist. What’s more, most of these ingredients (e.g., green tea extract, coffee extract, etc.) are essentially sources of caffeine. Scientists don’t agree that other ingredients work as advertised (e.g., “nitric oxide”/NO, etc.).

If you tolerate caffeine well, this may not be an issue; however, if you contend with anxiety or other conditions that are exacerbated by caffeine, you will need to avoid it. If you do add caffeine to your stack, use a tablet that has nothing but caffeine in the ingredient list.

Note: The energizing components of these mixes and stacks can give you the jitters or induce aggression. It is for this reason that you should practice stacking: You can leave this part out, should you so desire. Whatever is best for you, your goals, and your gains.

Please remember that there is already caffeine and carnitine in the fat burning stack. Do not add more of them if you are doing both muscle building and fat burning stacks simultaneously. 

Purchase Caffeine Tablets on Amazon
Purchase Coffee on Amazon
Purchase Carnitine Capsules on Amazon

Protein & Amino Acids

Protein is the building block of muscle. You must have it. Your own dietary restrictions and preferences will dictate which products you will add into your stack. You gain complete protein from animal products. For pre- and post-workout supplementation, you will need a fast absorbing protein. Whey is the best option. Casein, egg, and beef proteins are slow digesting. Soy is controversial, because of its possible connection to estrogen levels.

A note for vegetarians: The only plants I am aware of that are truly complete proteins are quinoa and soy. You can also combine grains with legumes to get all the essential amino acids together.

Also, you will need to decide if you want your stack to provide calories or not. If you are keeping your calories controlled, you will not want to add protein itself, but its components (amino acids). These also have calories, but far fewer. If you use a whey protein powder, these products already contain Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAA), so you will not need to add more to your stack. Check your protein’s label for more information.

Purchase Whey Powder on Amazon
Purchase Vegetarian Powder on Amazon
Purchase BCAA Powder on Amazon


Once you have invested all this effort and work, you’ll want to make sure your gains are protected. When your body doesn’t have enough calories, or if it senses your muscles are either unnecessary or too expensive calorically, it will break muscle fibers back down for energy. This process is called catabolization. To avoid this, you can add anti-catabolization ingredients to your stack.

Purchase Glutamine Powder on Amazon
Purchase HMB Powder on Amazon
Purchase Beta Alanine Powder on Amazon

Recent Updates

Glycemic Index vs Glycemic Load

Glycemic Index vs Glycemic Load

This score indicates how damaging a food will be to your blood sugar levels. Foods that score 0-55 are rated low impact (and thus presumed to be better for diabetics and those looking to maintain healthy weight and/or body fat ratios), but this is not the whole picture.

Caffeine: 14 better options to ease SAD

Caffeine: 14 better options to ease SAD

Nearly a year ago to the dot, I wrote an article about Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), but there I focused on the importance of getting access to a full range spectrum of light. Here I’d like to focus on caffeine and sleep’s effect on SAD. I’ll also offer suggestions for what to do to help you feel better on the dark days.

Avoid fish oil supplements

Avoid fish oil supplements

I don’t generally promote supplements. Most of them play to specific, isolated points of medical research to serve as a magic pill. One remarkable example of this is fish oil.

Jack Kirven is a mobile personal trainer in Charlotte, NC. He is the owner of INTEGRE8T Wellness.

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