Also, keep in mind that everyone has different fitness goals. Where one may want to bulk up there may be another who wants to slim down. Just as the workouts for these two people will look completely different so to will there supplementing (the main difference being quantity!). After selecting your supplements make sure you figure out the right quantities and the right times to take them in order to maximize your outcomes.
So with no further ado, we’ll get into it! May I introduce to you your supplements….
- Multivitamin: I know, I know… you’re reading this twice thinking “really?? We’re starting with a multivitamin?!” Well the truth is most people don’t eat enough healthy (I mean REALLY healthy) food to get an adequate does of essential vitamins and minerals. Research shows that many who train hard in trying to maintain a specific body weight are often vitamin deficient. As soon as you start working out your body starts depleting these sources even quicker making it imperative for you to replace them. Being deficient in these essential micronutrients can lead to low energy levels and restrict muscle growth, strength gains and fat loss. You should look for a multivitamin that provides you 100% of the daily value of C, D, E and most of the B-complex vitamins and 100% of zinc, copper and chromium. Most advise you to take it once per day with a meal, such as breakfast.
- Whey Protein: A must for anyone taking part in regular exercise. Protein is an essential building block for creating muscle; it is vital to muscle growth and repair. Whey protein is a must for anyone because it digests fast (faster than those proteins found naturally in eggs, chicken, fish, etc) and gets to your muscles rapidly to start this repairing/building process. Whey also contains some smaller proteins (peptides) that can increase blood flow to the muscles helping them to work harder and longer. Usually it’s recommended to take your whey protein immediately after training. Keep in mind that this is one where dosing is vital. I’ve heard in order to really pack on weight and muscle that one should consume 0.5 – 1 gram of protein for each pound of body weight (I did this back in my college days and jumped from 170 pounds to 190 pounds in about 3 months). However keep in mind that this type of dosing isn’t for everyone – much less is required for a maintenance and repair schedule. My go-to is the protein powder that can easily be added into fruit smoothies (here are a few of my favorites), but I’ll also keep a few protein bars handy for long days at work or the drive home from the gym.
- Creatine: Creatine’s most basic function is to create energy during exercise, thereby supporting endurance and strength. It is comprised of three naturally-occurring amino acids that accelerates muscle growth. It increases the amount of fast energy in your muscles which helps you get through all your sets and reps. By increasing the reps you can do with a given weight it allows you to get stronger; including both lean muscle (lots of reps at a given weight) and bulk (lots of reps at increasingly heavier weights). It’s basically a shot of energy to your muscle cells. It has also has been found to increase levels of insulin like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) in muscles, which is essential for stimulating growth. I will usually try to take this one before workouts to peak out my shot of energy right when I need it the most!
- Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs): The basic function of this type of amino acid is to help build muscle and decrease muscle soreness and fatigue. Muscle tissue can actually burn these amino acids as fuel to help you increase the length of your workouts. Use it before and after exercise to reduce the amount of soreness you experience post-workout. BCAAs are also heavily involved in the creation of new muscle tissue (leucine, in particular, is one of the amino acids which promotes protein synthesis – essential in building muscle). There is also some research that may suggest it can ramp up fat burning during exercise.
- Fish Oil: Ever looked at the benefits of fish oil? Everything from diabetes and glaucoma to heart disease, alzheimer’s and ADHD. It’s surprising how many of these benefits have been validated; equally surprising is how many of them are bogus. But in the world of fitness supplements there are two benefits that stand out as paramount to me: promoting weight loss and stimulating joint health. The essential omega-3 fatty acids have been found to turn on genes that stimulate fat burning an enhance weight loss. When combined with regular exercise fish oil has been proven to burn more fat than working out alone. And who amongst us hasn’t experienced some joint pain before? Dare I say anyone that takes place in a regular active lifestyle has had some painful joints along the way. Fish oil is a great way to improve joint health, but it’s benefits don’t stop there.
- Glutamine: Glutamine regulates glycogen within your body and has the ability to boost energy levels resulting in enhanced performance and muscle growth. This supplement can help your body to rebuild after a workout. There is also some research that also indicates glutamine is effective in decreasing inflammation and infection – thereby keeping you healthy despite your otherwise crazy, hectic schedule! Boost energy levels to enhance performance and muscle growth.
One final note – these things are referred to as “SUPPLEMENTS” for a reason. They are meant to SUPPLEMENT healthy eating, regular exercise, getting sufficient sleep, and living a healthy lifestyle. Otherwise they would be referred to as “replacements”… and that would just be entirely too easy!
Make it happen,
By Jared Beckstrand
Have a great day!