The Top Supplement Mistakes and How to Avoid Them


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JJ here and I’m back for the fifth and final installment of our series that we’ve entitled supplement savvy. Hope you enjoyed it so far. If you haven’t checked out the previous four episodes please do so on the website. Let me give you quick recap:

The first episode in this series we talked all about the history of dietary supplements and how they are regulated.

The second episode we looked at some tips to help you become supplement savvy.

In the third and fourth episodes we actually looked at a couple of specific supplements.

The third part of the series discussed protein powders and how to use effectively use them. Last week, we looked at caffeine which is a biggie for endurance athletes.

Today in our fifth and final installment here with a look at some of the top supplement mistakes that I see endurance athletes making. Also you should stick around til the end because I’m going to tell you about my story of dietary supplement use.

Now let’s jump into the content!


TOP MISTAKE #5: Meal Timing

Mistake number five is regarding meal timing. Check the instructions on your dietary supplement label to determine if they need to be taken with food. This will affect absorption and could definitely cause GI distress if you don’t follow directions. Too many athletes just take their supplements willy-nilly and this may decrease their effectiveness.


TOP MISTAKE #4: Thinking Brand Doesn’t Matter

Mistake number four is thinking that brand doesn’t matter. Nothing could be further from the truth. Make sure you’re getting your supplements from a reputable company even if you’re purchasing online. Ensure that the product you intend to take have been independently tested (, This is probably the best way to determine if your supplement will be have the adequate purity and potency. This will give you the best bang for your buck. Many supplement companies cut corners and can be a little shady. I mentioned this in a previous post– so brand definitely matters and stick with supplements that have been independently tested.



TOP MISTAKE #3: Mega Dosing

Mistake number three is mega dosing on a supplement. Unfortunately, for a lot of athletes if they read on the supplement label to take three capsules a day they think taking six is better but it’s definitely not. Follow the instructions on the supplement label and make sure that even if it’s a multivitamin there’s no reason you need 200%  daily value of  B3 right. Remember, B vitamins are water-soluble so if you’re over consuming them excess will be excreted in the urine. I recommend endurance athletes go to their doctor get a physical to see if there is a deficiency in any particular vitamin, mineral, or other nutrient. Examples would be vitamin D, calcium or iron. Mega dosing will not improve your performance. The only way that vitamin and mineral supplements might improve your performance is if you are low.


TOP MISTAKE #2: Having Unrealistic Expectations

Mistake number two (the deuce) is having unrealistic expectations. Many athletes see supplement use as a cure-all to make up for poor training. Supplement use will not dramatically increase your performance. Like I mentioned in the previous tip, if you’re deficient in particular vitamin or mineral then yes but it’s going to help your performance. Don’t a supplement to get you to the next level. It takes dedication, a lot of hard work, training, eating a healthful diet (like we talk about on the blog), a little bit of luck along with a lot of focus during your event to achieve the peak results. Be honest with yourself and realize that supplement use will not make an average endurance athlete into a superstar—this just doesn’t happen.



TOP MISTAKES #1: Not Eating Real Foods

The number one top mistake to me is relying on the supplement instead of eating real food. Your body really runs better on real food. We need the fiber, the phytochemicals and the antioxidants that you find in foods to not only improve your performance but also improve your health. Don’t think you should take a shortcut consume a supplement because it has less calories. I understand every now and then if you have a hectic schedule and are in a pinch. But 95% of the time try to get your calories, and your nutrients from real food. Foods are better absorbed and you know truth be told—that’s what your body wants!





When I was get my PhD at University Mississippi back in the late 90s I took a supplement called “Ripped Fuel.” I don’t know if any of you have heard of it because it was banned long ago. It contain ephedrine which is a central nervous system stimulant. I was a triathlete wanting to get cut, get lean, and fast. I took a shortcut. I’m not proud of it. I’m happy that I’m still here to talk about it because after a couple of years on the market it was banned after causing several deaths. I had all the same symptoms as some these other folks did that actually died! Heart palpitations were common. I would just be standing around sweating. I couldn’t sleep at night—2 in the morning looking up at the ceiling. And like a crazy person I continued to follow the directions on the bottle that said take six pills a day. These were big old horse pills.

I still to this day have heart palpitations every so often and I it’s probably due to the ephedrine.


Learn from my mistake, If you think a supplement could do you long-term harm don’t go that route! I know some athletes want to perform at any cost but I urge you to think long-term health and about your family instead of the short-term benefits.

So that concludes our series on dietary supplements. If you’re interested or have questions about a specific supplement please let me know.

I would love to hear your feedback on this series so give me a shout out via email, on the Facebook page in the comments section.  I’ll talk to you soon.

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Learn the exact steps I used to become a 9x Ironman finisher, ultramarathoner, and Boston Qualifier. Take the guesswork out of race-day nutrition.

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