2018-11-03

Supplement Update


Four months back, I posted about the array of dietary supplements I’ve been taking. Because I belief some self-reported information could be of value to people interested in supplements, I’d like to provide an update on how that’s been going.

I’ll start with Niagen. One thing that very immediately started to happen when I initiated Niagen supplementation is that my sleep quality improved dramatically. Using my smart watch, I was able to monitor sleep quality, both in terms of total hours slept and hours in deep versus light sleep. While my total hours slept didn’t change, the amount of time I spent in deep sleep almost immediately increased by an hour per night. That’s the good news. The bad news is that this effect appears to have been temporary. After about three months of Niagen supplementation, my average nightly deep sleep returned to about where it was before I started taking Niagen.

It’s worth mentioning that, in the meantime, my exercise patterns have also changed. I’ve been doing more running and walking, and less strength training and P90X. So this may have changed my sleep patterns. Perhaps the lower level of exercise – or, in particular, the less-frequent strength training – has been responsible for the decrease in sleep efficiency. I can’t tell for sure. One way to get some good sense of this would be to cease Niagen supplementation for a time, then start it up again later, and observe changes to sleep quality. Another way to rule-out exercise as a culprit is to go back to doing more strength training. Well, Tony Horton is about to provide his Facebook fitness group with a new 60-day workout calendar, beginning November 5th, so I may get involved with that. Then I may have another update to provide.

Regarding Niagen’s other claims – improved mental clarity, anti-aging, etc. – I haven’t noticed anything. That’s not to say there has been no effect, just not a noticeable one, for me, personally. Keep in mind that Niagen is $40 per bottle, which constitutes a thirty-day supply. It is one of the more expensive dietary supplements out there. So I would advise that, if you’re looking at Niagen to give you some kind of mental or physical boost, my experience is that it has not given me such a boost and that $40 is a lot to spend on a placebo effect. However, as I previously reported, I’m in this for the anti-aging, which should only become apparent after years. Even then, I am realistic about this; the anti-aging effects might never show up at all, and all that money would have been for naught. (Naught, that is, except for the entertainment value of the experiment, which is currently high enough to keep my cabinet stocked with Niagen.)

As for creatine, I must say that I have become a believer. After starting on creatine supplementation, my body weight increased by about five pounds – a virtually unheard of increase for me. I have since become a little less diligent about taking my creatine, and the weight hasn’t gone away. This is consistent with the general claims about creatine: First, you gain a little water weight, then you gain some muscle mass as your strength training becomes more efficient, then you stop taking creatine and you lose the water weight but not the muscle weight. So far, that mirrors my experience exactly.

I feel mostly positive about this development, of course, but there is one down-side. At 160 pounds, I’m now about ten pounds heavier than I tend to be when I’m at my fastest for distance-running. I can still run fast, and indeed, since the weather has cooled-down, I’ve brought my average per-mile pace back down into the 6:40s, where it belongs. But ten pounds of additional weight is ten pounds of additional weight, and it’s likely that I’d be running even faster if I didn’t have as much muscle mass as I do today.

That’s one reason I haven’t been quite so excited to do strength training these days. I like looking shredded and fit, but I’m not so sure having a lot of muscle mass is “for me.” Still, it’s only five pounds, and I’m not actually running any races these days, so what’s the harm in the long run?