I would argue that whilst supplements are not essential, they are very helpful indeed in supporting your body as you look to get stronger, bigger, fitter, leaner.
Yes the majority of the things that people suggest you take can be found in every day foods. However you have to take into account cost, ease of use/digestion, preparation and efficiency. It’s certainly a lot quicker and easier to knock up and drink a protein shake than it is to cook and eat a chicken breast after a work out.
So what supplements do I take and would I suggest?
There are lots of different options here and it is probably the most widely used supplement for gym goers. Your muscles need protein to repair and grow after you rip them apart in your workouts and protein shakes are a quick, easy way to get it to them.
Whey protein is probably the most popular option here and there are hundreds of different brands out there to try. Things to consider are: Yield, Functionality, Amino Acid Profile (BCAA – EAA ratio), WPI:WPC Ratio, Filler Percentage, Taste, Ease of use, Blendability, Digestibility, Functionality and results. Then you can also get casein, soy, pea, milk among others. I’d say stick with whey as your primary one.
Remember this should be a supplement to a relatively balanced diet to increase your protein intake, as this can be hard to achieve otherwise. High doses can cause some side effects such as increased bowel movements, nausea, thirst, bloating, cramps, reduced appetite, tiredness (fatigue), and headache. Also got told by the hair clinic on Harley Street that it can cause hair loss….that’s what I’ll blame it on.
If you are going to be pushing your body in the gym consistently, it’s going to be tough on your body and could start taking its toll as you demand more and more. This is where it is vital that your body is healthy and can call on all the various vitamins and minerals it uses to keep it so.
Of course you get most of these from your daily diet and you don’t want to overdo it or take supplements unnecessarily. However, not everyone is a perfect eater and if you are pushing yourself every day in the gym your body may require more than you currently provide.
I tend to just take one a day rather than the suggested dose of 3+ just to give my body a little boost rather than drowning it in 300% of my daily intake only to see my urine turn bright green.
BCAAs – Branched-Chain Amino Acids
Branched-chain amino acids stimulate protein synthesis, and might do so to a greater extent than a normal protein on its own. BCAAs not only increase the rate of protein synthesis, but they also increase the cell’s capacity for protein synthesis.
Lots of people swear by BCAAs and their importance in helping muscles grow and also maintaining them for example if in a cutting phase. They can also be used as a quick energy source in your workouts since they get absorbed directly into the blood. The ability of Valine and Isoleucine to be converted into glucose means energy to fight off muscle fatigue.
This one I read a lot about and is a very common, well researched supplement, however I personally have never really committed to it. I probably will though as creatine has been shown to aid in strength and lean muscle gains.
There are different types but Creatine Monohydrate is the standard and recommended type for the general user. There are also lots of different opinions on when to take it, all showing benefits really. The general consensus is to take it with dextrose and also potentially whey protein, to elicit an insulin spike and get more creatine to the muscle.
When coupled with an adequate fitness regimen consisting of weights and cardio, as well as a balanced diet, supplementation can yield considerable results and elicit dramatic changes in body composition and appearance.
If you aren’t working hard in the gym though or in your chosen exercise then there is no point taking them because you aren’t pushing your body hard enough to demand more than you are currently supplying it.