Supplement companies and products have grown exponentially year over year as the fitness industry exploded thank to social media. The array of products advertised is overwhelming and each company is fighting hard to bring something revolutionary to the market.
But do we really need every single pill or powder recommended but fitness influencers? Are we really spending our hard-earned money on something that will help us achieve our goals?
Once again this comes from personal experience. Over the years I have tried multiple brands and various products and, ultimately, I narrowed the selection down to what works for me and what doesn't.
Combined with a balanced diet and a proper training regimen this is all you'll ever need.
We have already talked about the importance of proteins (read it here) but let's face it, even as a meat lover, it is very challenging to reach your recommended daily intake of protein with solid food alone. Especially when trying to keep in check saturated fats and salt.
Best consumed in the morning and pre/post workout thanks to the fast-digesting characteristic, whey protein is tasty, easy to consume and convenient to transport when travelling.
The web is packed with delicious whey protein smoothie recipes, ideal if you need a caloric boost first thing in the morning. And if you are trying to loose weight they can be simply shaked in water for a low calorie snack.
With hundreds of scientific studies backing its effectiveness, creatine has become an absolute must for gym-goers. Creatine is mostly contained in steaks but most of it can get converted to the inactive creatinine during cooking, hence the need for supplementing.
This micronutrient is stored in the muscle and broken to quickly replenish ATP stores (ATP is the primary source of energy of every movement, it is the organic compound responsible for muscle contraction).
Studies have proven that strength, endurance and lean muscle mass improve considerably when supplementing creatine and even more so when combined with whey protein.
BCAAs have been subject of controversy lately as more and more people believe is easy to get the right amounts from food.
The branched-chain amino acids (Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine) are the only amino that cannot be produced by the body. They make up about 35% of muscle tissue amino content and are also used by the body for energy.
Studies have confirmed that under stress conditions (i.e exercise for example) the body uses a disproportionate amount of BCAAs to maintain nitrogen balance.
Researchers have proven incredible exercise-related benefits when supplementing BCAAs:
- Higher endurance
- Overall reduction of fatigue
- Better mental performance
- Better protein synthesis
-Improved immune system function
- Increment in lean body mass and strength
Vitamins are often ignored as they don't provide fuel and don't have a visible role in building muscle or lose weight, but without them, our body would break itself down.
When we only think of food as fuel, it's easy to forget that we eat for other reasons too.
Vitamins and minerals can't be synthesized by the body and must be assimilated via food. Although a balanced diet would contribute to healthy living, it is wiser to supplement these micronutrients to ensure there are no deficiencies and our body is in peak condition to perform at all times.
Fish Oil (Omega 3)
These two fatty acids belonging to the Omega 3 group that are of particular importance. They have some fancy scientific names which are abbreviated into EPA and DHA.
EPA and DHA have the capability of dispersing other fatty acids and cholesterol in the bloodstream, this characteristic makes them your number one weapon against high cholesterol and all consequent heart issues.
If that wasn't enough these fatty acids have anti-inflammatory effects, promote growth hormone production and studies have reported a significant increase in strength and aerobic performance when supplementing 2 to 4 grams per day of EPA and DHA.
Proper supplementation will definitely boost your progress and support healthy living but is not enough on is own. If your nutrition and training are not in check, supplementation will not compensate and you will not achieve your goals.
Hope this has given you a good idea of where to start. I have not mentioned specific brands, the base ingredients are about the same and the choice ultimately comes down to personal taste preferences and budget.
As always, I really appreciate you for taking the time to read through and would love to hear about your favourite supplements.