odybuilder and nutritional scientist Layne Norton Ph.D. sits at an interesting intersection on the internet. At first glance, the bodybuilding and powerlifting champ oozes a familiar, fitness-influencer machismo. He’s in the perfect position to make thousands of dollars promoting buzzy, athletic performance supplements to his trusting subscriber-base like many of his peers. Instead, you’ll find him dunking on those who dare to spread health misinformation.
His no-bullshit approach to fitness and nutrition translates into his supplement stack. Nothing fancy or untested here. Here are six essentials Norton relies on: a multi-vitamin, creatine, protein powder, BCAAs, fish oil, and glucosamine.
OPTIMIZE YOUR STACK
Layne Norton’s Supplement Stack
Norton calls creatine monohydrate a “tier one” supplement for bodybuilders.
Creatine is one of the most well-studied supplements, and boasts benefits like building, maintaining muscle, and increasing lean body mass (1, 2). It helps your body produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which acts as a fuel for your cells.
Skip the fancy, proprietary creatine blends from brands that tout creatine monohydrate as “old science,” says Norton. “CM saturates the muscle cell 100 percent with phosphocreatine [a form of creatine that can be rapidly mobilized by your body]. You can’t get better than 100 percent. Other forms have NOT been demonstrated to be superior & some like creatine ethyl ester are worse,” Norton shared on Twitter.
“They can’t make as much money on monohydrate since it’s ubiquitous so [brands] try to sell you scam creatine,” Norton Tweeted. “Take 5g [creatine monohydrate] per day. It is that simple.”
For guys who are laser focused on their gains, protein powder is a convenient way to hit daily protein goals. Norton opts for a 100% whey protein isolate.
Instead of measuring his protein goals based on his total body weight, he uses his lean body mass (weight minus total body fat) to determine an optimal protein ratio.
“If I’m in a gain phase, protein could be anywhere from 2 to 2.4 grams per kilogram of lean body weight,” Norton told BarBend in an interview. “If I’m in a fat loss phase, I may go as high as anywhere from 2.4 to 3 grams per kilogram of lean body mass.”
BCAAs (branched-chain amino acids) are popular as a muscle recovery supplement that contain leucine, isoleucine, and valine. These amino acids are thought to support your skeletal muscles by preserving your body’s stores of glycogen—the main chemical that supports your muscle’s energy production (3).
BCAAs are controversial in the bodybuilding community because several studies have debunked the idea that they support muscle growth. But Norton takes them for another reason.
“There is actually good data on their effects on recovery and delayed onset muscle soreness,” Norton says. “This is especially helpful for me when I’m in an overreaching phase where I’m feeling beat up and sore all the time.”
In an interview with Matt Weik, Norton said his favorite BCAA supplement is Scivation Xtend.
Norton told Weik that he takes fish oil for the “blood lipid benefits and its effects on fat metabolism.”
The omega-3 fatty acids present in fish oil have been linked to reduced triglyceride levels—the fat cells that circulate in your blood—according to the American Heart Association. When calories aren’t immediately converted into energy, the leftovers become triglycerides that your body stores for later. Having some triglycerides is healthy, but too many can increase your risk of stroke or heart disease.
A few small studies also suggest that fish oil supplementation could help increase lean muscle mass during resistance training (4)—which excited his bodybuilding audience—but Norton believes that there’s not enough evidence to support those claims.
Norton suggests a fish oil supplement with high levels of EPA and DHA (two types of omega-3 fatty acids).
Powerlifting can take a toll on your joints. To protect his, Norton takes glucosamine, a compound that your body uses to create the chemicals that are responsible for tendon, cartilage, and ligament health.
Several animal studies suggest that glucosamine supplements may treat osteoarthritis by slowing cartilage deterioration and reducing inflammation (5), especially when taken with chondroitin sulfate.
Although more human research is needed, these results are promising enough for Norton to add glucosamine to his own supplement stack.
In a post on BioLayne, Norton says that he takes a multivitamin “religiously.” While he doesn’t specify what brand or vitamin stack he goes for, he has previously deemed vitamin B, calcium, zinc, magnesium, iron and potassium necessary for his optimal health.
How to Choose a Supplement, According to Layne Norton
“Supplements aren’t magic. 95 percent are junk,” Norton warns in a tweet. “Of the 5 percent that aren’t junk, 99 percent of companies overhype them.”
Norton’s do’s and don’ts for choosing a reputable supplement brand:
- They don’t do proprietary blends
- They don’t use hype or fear to sell
- They disclose all ingredient amounts
- They use responsible marketing
- They provide 3rd party lab testing
- They educate audience on each ingredient & why they are included