What do they do?
All in One supplements are designed to do what it says on the tub, provide all that you need in one convenient shake. The question is this, is the manufacturer’s perception of what’s needed after training, actually what you need? Peoples training needs and nutritional demands vary, so are ‘all in one’ supplements appropriate for everybody? Well if your training requirements are to have a steady intra-training delivery of energy, complimented by a drip feed of amino-acids and a replenishing pool of creatine, supported by optimal ratio’s of stimulants and fatty acids....then an ‘all in one’ supplement could literally be, all that you need.
Other factors to consider
The distributions of ingredients mean ‘all in ones’ are usually best consumed once, or at most twice a day. The quantities of creatine are often at the top end of the recommended level for the day, meaning more than one serving per day may provide you with an excessive dosage (depending on training intensity and size). Some people may be at the stage of tapering their training and diet in preparation for a body building competition (for example), whilst others might want to reduce surface layer fluid to show definition and tone. Therefore they may well choose to limit their carbohydrate intake, meaning the usual range of 15-30g carbohydrate per serving might not always be desirable. However, there is scope for these people to consume an ‘all in one’ for the mass building or strength training phase, and wean onto individualised supplements to fine tune their physique or training goals. Timing is a key factor in supplementation, many fitness professionals/enthusiasts may wish to take a protein supplement late evening to replenish protein stores, aiding anabolism (growth) over night. The problem with this scenario is that ‘all in one’ supplements also deliver a carbohydrate and creatine load, which may well lead to a surplus of calories and undesirable weight gain if taken late at night.
Are ‘All in Ones’ suited to you?
The majority of ‘all in one’ supplements contain the International Society of Sports Nutrition’s recommended dose of creatine, whilst providing the same (if not more) protein as the average protein shake, and delivering an optimal combination of carbohydrate and energy. Therefore in terms of the relative adequacy of the individual components, it is fair to say that they withstand the test! However, research by Arredondo et al. (2006) has seen some competitive inhibition between some macro minerals added to ‘all in one’ supplements e.g. zinc and copper inhibiting iron absorption. This means some minerals aren’t absorbed as effectively as they could be because they enter the muscle and tissue through the same transporters in the body. Provided you are consuming a healthy, balanced and structured diet alongside an ‘all in one’ supplement, the risk of inhibited mineral absorption, and thus malnutrition is very slim. Macronutrients such as protein, carbohydrate, fat and creatine should be absorbed as normal, and as they would be from individual protein or creatine supplements. Therefore for general mass and strength training, muscle defining and support with fitness levels, an all in one supplement should be equally beneficial as supplements taken individually (Arredondo et al., 2006; ISSN, 2010).