I am currently progressing through 'Mad Cow' system and I have upped my calorie intake over the past 1 to 2 months. I have a question that I wondered if anyone could shed some light on.

I take about 2 supplement shakes a day along with 3 to 4 meals. Would I be better off having about 5 to 6 meals and dropping the supplements? Does your body process the liquid supplements differently to actual food?

My goal is to build strength / muscle mass. My increase in good carbohydrates and protein is helping me immensely with my lift gains but I just can't help thinking that it may help more if my body has the actual food to process rather than just gulping down my supplement shake. Thanks!

  • While I feel this is off topic for Fitness.SE, I will say that all of the dietitians I know prefer you get everything you need from food. They do make the point, If you can not meet nutritional needs through dietary habits, supplements are not a bad thing. You should always do research on the supplements and I recommend clearing them with your physician... Just in case.
    – BryceH
    May 21, 2013 at 13:10
  • It's close to being off topic, but I think it sneaks in the side door with the last paragraph.
    – JohnP
    May 21, 2013 at 15:09

1 Answer 1


First, I would recommend you commit to the nutrition SE site in Area 51: http://area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/44550/nutrition

It depends on the supplement, what it is designed for and the composition. It can be very complicated to outline, but there are various nutrients, vitamins and minerals that depend on the presence of other substances to be better absorbed and utilized in the body. For example, on extremely low fat diets, it can be easy to develop a deficiency in fat soluble vitamins, since fat is necessary for transport of the vitamins into the body.

If you get all of your necessary nutrients in your "real food" meals, and the supplement shakes are simply to increase calories, then there probably isn't a problem with them (With the caveat that there have been reports of heavy metal contamination in some liquid shakes). If you are relying on them for other things than extra calories and you have the time to prepare meals, then I would do that.

I tend to always recommend real food over processed supplements unless there are mitigating factors.

  • Thanks JohnP, your answer makes good sense to me. I do a lot or preparation of meals on Sunday to last me through the week. Good carbs, fats and protein filled meals. So my supplements are just helping me reach my target calorie goals. I'll look into posting on area51. Thanks
    – james508
    May 21, 2013 at 23:54

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