Whether you’re gluten-free, plant-based, lactose intolerant or have a similar dietary requirement, shopping for supplements that the rest of us take for granted can be a nightmare.
These days, however, it’s very encouraging that supplements for those of us who used to be held back by personal dietary choices or allergies are now presented with a ton of options that were previously unavailable.
An increase in demand and the careful development of recipes and formulas (gritty and insoluble whey alternatives of the past: I’m looking at you!) means that getting your supplements down without having to compromise on what suits your diet has never been easier.
This list will look at some of the most popular supplements; those that are extremely useful and functional, whilst also being very adaptable for a wide variety of tricky diets. It may also bring your attention to products that you have not considered before!
1) Whey Protein Alternatives
There are many reasons why whey protein powder might not be suitable for you. You could be lactose intolerant, plant-based or perhaps dairy just doesn’t agree with you all that much.
Fortunately, there are lots of alternatives available to suit every dietary requirement…
Soy protein is the most common, best value for money and widely available substitute. It still packs an impressive amount of protein per serving, it works well in basic shakes and works well in porridge, home-made protein bars and other delicious and simple recipes!
You will need a bit more liquid than whey requires to get a decent blend but it really depends on personal preference. “Oh no! I’m allergic to soy,” you say? No problem! Have a look at pea protein, hemp protein and brown rice protein, or even the multi-powder vegan blend!
2) Creatine Monohydrate
Ask yourself this question: Am I taking creatine? If the answer is “no,” then where have you been?! If you said “yes, of course,” then congratulations on your vein-popping impressive increases upon your previous PB’s.
For those unfamiliar, creatine is the most popular and widely-used supplement for strength training (second only to whey protein), and for a very good reason.
Creatine is originally produced in the body through the amino acids arginine, glycine and methionine, with the responsibility of fuelling our energy system, otherwise known as adrenaline triphosphate (ATP.) This is used to provide bursts of power in conjunction with our fast twitch muscle fibres. Which is all good and well – however, our body doesn’t have enough to provide dramatic effects during training!
It can also be found naturally in raw meat, selected fish and eggs, (1) – which isn’t great for plant-based diets – therefore supplement form can provide a further boost!
In simple terms, this means that you get stronger much faster. It’s safe and fine for veggies, the lactose intolerant and those who can’t consume gluten. Creapure is one of the purest forms at an impressive 99.99% creatine monohydrate.
Many people believe that a well-balanced diet removes the need for multi-vitamin supplements – however, there are also a lot of people who don’t have the time or money to nourish their body with maximum nutrients every-day!
There are a plethora of multivitamins available on the market, but if you happen to have a certain dietary requirement it can be difficult to know what is suitable for you.
If you require something more specialist, there’s a good chance that what you need may end up burning quite a hole in your pocket, too – which we want to avoid!
Fortunately, just two little scoops a day of Myprotein’s powdered multivitamins contains 100% of your RDA of 14 essential vitamins and minerals. It’s particularly useful if you find it hard to chug down a handful of pills!
Make sure you do your research on what you may be lacking if you have a certain dietary restriction.
ZMA is a combination of zinc, magnesium and vitamin B6, designed specifically to help improve sleep – an issue a lot of people suffer with! Taking just one before bedtime can help improve your quality of sleep, allowing you to wake up feeling fresher and therefore avoiding the snooze button.
This can be incredibly beneficial if you’re suffering from Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) after workouts, as upping the quality of your sleep will vastly improve your overnight muscle recovery.
There is a wealth of scientific research that supports the positive benefits of zinc and magnesium. Zinc, for example, has been linked to protein synthesis which aids muscle recovery and growth. Zinc also helps to maintain your thyroid hormone production which directly affects your metabolic rate. In short, a faster metabolic rate gives you an edge in the fat-burning stakes.
Magnesium, on the other hand, is a mineral responsible for our blood pressure and cardiovascular system. If you’re living a hectic and demanding lifestyle, the release of stress hormones can promote magnesium deficiency in our body’s tissues, (2) therefore reducing the amount of TLC your body will provide!
If you’re not familiar with the wonderful world of amino acids then buckle up!
An essential amino acid is something that your body can’t make on its own, so it’s up to you to get it through your diet, in order to enhance protein synthesis and prevent protein breakdown (muscle breakdown!)
The amino acids present in BCAAs (leucine, isoleucine and valine) are particularly useful for building and maintaining muscle growth. If you live a plant-based diet, make sure to go for the powdered BCAAs in capsule form.
The standard BCAAs are suitable for all athletes, but if you’re interested in building lean mass then BCAA 4:1:1 is the way to go due to a higher leucine content.
If you’re cautious about using pre-workout supplements or like to workout fasted, then a couple of scoops of BCAA’s before you hit the gym can give you a great little boost for your gym session.
Take Home Message
Living an active lifestyle with specific dietary requirements needn’t get in the way of your goals – you just need to know what supplements provide the most benefits and include them in your daily routine!