Which Supplements And Why?
When first investing time and energy into a fitness based lifestyle, many beginners have difficulty with deciding which supplements they should take in conjunction with their diet and training. This guide will provide you with a comprehensive list of supplements from the more popular to the more obscure in accordance with your own goals.
Muscle & Strength Gain
Protein – By far the most important and commonly used supplement in all areas of fitness. Protein is broken down in the body during protein synthesis to its constituent materials – amino acids. these amino acids are then used to repair damaged muscle fibres. the act of repairing a damaged muscle causes short term pain, known as “DOMS” (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness), if your DOMS last for an excess of a couple of days you may not be intaking a high enough amount of protein via your diet.
There are also various types of protein – some protein supplements may feature a variety of protein sources, ranging from whey protein to egg protein and protein extracts from vegetables. other protein supplements may choose to include amino acids and creatine to assist in recovery and strength building. whilst the primary benefit of protein supplements is increasing your daily intake to an ideal range, finding a protein specifically tailored to your own needs can be incredibly helpful.
Caseine – This is effectively a long-chain protein which takes hours to break down, it is useful for consuming before sleep to ensure a constant supply of protein throughout the night, preventing the body from self cannibalising the muscles for energy, this is useful for athletes who are actively cutting weight whilst trying to build or maintain muscle mass/strength.
Creatine – Creatine is another popular supplement many beginners may find themselves struggling to find a use for. Creatine is synthesised in the liver and kidneys naturally along with a base line intake being established from your diet. it works by effectively supplying your muscle groups with a greater source of energy during your initial stages of lifting. It is normal to see both rep ranges and weight ranges increase during training whilst taking creatine. This supplement can also be taken in a variety of ways, Flavoured/Unflavoured Powders, Pills, Capsules and Tablets are all common place methods of ingestion.
Multiple types of creatine also exist:
Monohydrate: The default creatine and the most popular in the industry, generally the cheapest option. the trade off is that you must take quite a lot of it daily for a period of time before you can expect to see any results.
Hydrochloride: Effectively monohydrate with greater solubility, meaning less powder is needed and less chance of you encountering an upset stomach. recommended to those who struggle with regular creatine.
Ethyl Ester: Creatine with a greater bio-availability and as such faster absorption rate. it may not increase creatine in the blood/muscles as greatly as monohydrate but it can be taken immediately preceding a workout without the need to “preload” on it for several days which many monohydrate manufacturers recommend you do.
Branch Chain Amino Acids – if you’re transitioning on from the beginner stage and taking in a regular amount of protein and still experiencing DOMS and hoping for quicker relief, these amino acids are synthesised in the body for muscle repair and recovery
ZMX – This Zinc, Magnesium and Vitamin B6 tablet can be taken before bed to promote a restful sleep, as sleep is one of the most important aspects of muscle repair, this is definitely advisable for beginners through to the most elite of athletes.
Test Boosters – There are various types of natural testosterone boosters with varying results. the obvious benefit of having a higher level of testosterone is quicker muscle recovery and optimal protein synthesis (your body can absorb more grams of protein at a given time the higher your testosterone levels are)
Weight manipulation ultimately boils down to two simple factors. Calories in and Calories out. your body will store excess energy as potential energy in the form of fat if you regularly intake more energy than is required for your daily metabolic functions. if you regularly take in less energy than required your body will resort to burning it’s stored potential energy to make up the difference. there are ways to alter your metabolism but the initial Calories In Calories Out (CICO) premise remains the same regardless.
Mass Gainers – High calorie shakes generally with plenty of protein. these shakes are designed to allow you to increase your weight much quicker alongside your diet. Typically these shakes have upwards of 1000 calories in a serving which is about half of what many adult males would eat in a single day to maintain weight. the high levels of protein typically found in mass gaining shakes mean they can be substituted as a protein shake after the gym and throughout the day.
Fat Burners – The polar opposite of mass gainers, these are generally capsules/tablets featuring thermogenic and stimulant compounds designed to suppress appetite, speed up the metabolism and burn calories off through sweating. if you’re already dieting these can give you a boost in how quickly you are likely to see results and make it much easier to avoid food due to appetite suppression.
Maltodextrin – Rapidly absorbing carbohydrate compounds commonly found in sports drinks, these can be used for a quick boost of energy if you’re feeling fatigued during training.
Preworkout – Generally a powerful stimulant complex designed to immediately eliminate fatigue/tiredness and allow you to train with much more intensity. some have nitrous oxide boosters in them which can be used to encourage oxygen flow in the blood and thus give you a better “pump” in the gym.
Multivitamins – Important if you’re worried you’re not getting a complete nutritional profile from your own diet, should not be used to substitute a healthy diet but can help make up the difference if you’re not consistently hitting ever target.
In summary there are a wide variety of supplements which can be utilised effectively to enhance and optimise your training and using them responsibly in conjunction with a diet and training schedule tailored to your own needs can only bring benefits.