Cycling Off Supplements Periodically

One of the concerns I’ve always had when taking any sort of medication or supplement is the effects of continuous usage over a long period of time. I think that products that affect the body or health, like anything, are best in moderation. For me, that means not only using moderate dosages (I don’t take 4 times the recommended dosage of a new pre-workout or vitamin supplement and head to the gym expecting to be able to live four times as much, for example) but also using them for just a “moderate” amount of time. Obviously, this is more important for medications, like painkillers or antibiotics, but I think it is applicable to nutritional supplements as well.

For this reason, I usually try to “cycle off” from supplements periodically, no matter how well they seem to be working. I did this with creatine when I first started using it, with Sytropin on occasion, my multi-vitamins on a regular basis and more recently with any product I take that has ingredients I don’t want to “build up” in my body too much. Caffeine is one obvious example, I know first-hand the effects of taking caffeine for too long of a time, or in anything more than moderate doses. One issue is decreased effectiveness. While it used to take just one cup of coffee in the morning to “wake me up”, after time it took increasing amounts, up to 3 or 4 cups, to get the same effect I used to get from just a single cup of joe to start my day. This led to the second issue, as I tried to “dose down”, I became more jittery and a little more irritable too. While I knew that cutting my coffee habit “cold turkey” would probably not be the most beneficial move, I knew that if I didn’t want to stay on this speeding train any longer, I would need to take action that would slow, if not eliminate, my caffeine consumption.

I stopped using any supplements that contained additional caffeine, and switched to ones that contained similar chemical compounds (like bitter orange) to reduce my total intake. I also stopped consuming coffee later in the day, grabbing a latte at Starbucks with co-workers in the afternoon had become a habit several days out of the week. After a couple months, the results were headed in the right direction. I was less irritable even if I skipped the morning coffee completely, and I saved money as well as time by decreasing my afternoon trips to coffee with the coworkers. Once I had cycled down enough, I slowly re-introduced the occasional second cup in the morning, and a Friday afternoon latte to finish off the work week.

With supplements, including Sytropin, I take a similar approach. While I have found them to be largely side effect free, I still take some “time off” periodically. When I do this with Sytropin, I tend to see some short-term reduction in performance while I’m off a cycle but I quickly gain that back when I begin taking it again, usually with even better results than the last week I had taken it. I encourage everyone I know, no matter how well they think their supplement regime is doing for them, to take a similar approach and take time off to give their body a break from the constant intake.