Are You Using The Right Supplements?
Supplementation is the cherry on top of your training regime. If your workouts are polished, and your diet is waxed, supplementation will give you that extra shine. Supplement plans ought to be personalised, in an ideal world, but there are some general supplements that can always be recommended, particularly if your goals are strength, fitness, or aesthetics related. These generally suitable supplements include a protein supplement, amino acids, and pre-workouts.
On top of that, you have more goal specific supplements like carbohydrate supplements, fat burners, joint support, creatine and so on. I will try to explain the general purpose and dosage of each of these supplements, however, it is important to first understand that everybody is different. Some people respond better to different dosages, and different supplements, so it’s very much a case of figuring out your own bodily needs. It’s also important to take into account medical issues – if you have a heart problem caffeine supplements should obviously be avoided, and the overarching principle is therefore that you consult a doctor beforehand.
That being said, the side effects of steroids are often mistakenly attributed to sports-safe supplements, resulting in exaggerated myths and telling offs. On this same issue, it is important to understand that supplements are merely the cherry on top – they will not have the effect of yielding great results unless you are training and dieting appropriately. The idea that it’s lazy to take supplements is in ignorance of the fact that supplements only have any substantial effect when your training and diet is up to scratch.
Whey and protein supplements are highly useful. Once you have worked out what your diet needs to be, you realise how much protein your body needs for successful training, particularly in relation to strength and bodybuilding type training. A protein supplement makes hitting your daily protein target much easier. If you are not a morning person, a protein shake goes down a lot easier than a tray of eggs.
Additionally, if you have difficulty getting in protein during the day, the protein supplements you can get, ranging from shakes to snacks, help to bolster the protein count of each meal. Myprotein has a particular draw in their wide range of protein supplements, from whey powder to vegan powder, to protein pasta.
On top of the ease, protein supplements give to your diet, whey powder itself is very beneficial post training. Whey powder is digested by your body very quickly, compared to other proteins. This means that consuming a whey shake straight after your workout means you get protein for your torn muscles very quickly, and the healing process is kick-started.
Amino acids, depending on what form you take, are the essential building blocks to your muscles, and if you train in a way that the wellbeing of your muscles is important, I strongly recommend at least 2 forms of amino acids. The first is Branch Chain Amino Acids or BCAAs. BCAAs are good to take when doing any enduring workout, whether in the form of a long session in the weights room or during a cardio session. What BCAAs will do here is protect your muscles from being broken down, and meaning your training sessions do not become counterproductive.
The other amino is glutamine. Glutamine works like magic in healing sore muscles. When I do a gruelling legs workout, I get through 15 to 20g of glutamine in a day, in 5g doses. Taking it on such a day means the next day I am not walking around crippled – I am a lot stiffer for a lot longer on days that I do not take glutamine.
With regards to pre-workouts, I do not advocate for the religious use of pre-workouts. I think that pre-workouts effects are best utilised when taken occasionally. The main reason for this is that the body builds a tolerance. This means that the effect of the same dose of caffeine on your body gradually gets less effective over time. However, when you are accustomed to relying on pure willpower to get through your workouts, the occasional dose of pre-workout results in a very gruelling and successful workout. Apart from the caffeine, there are generally other ingredients in pre-workout that have a positive effect – amino acids and the like.
With regards to the more sports specific supplements, there is an infinite amount, and you need to find what works for you. Generally, however, there are carbohydrate supplements, fat burners, creatine, and so on. Carbohydrate supplements are handy for those who do endurance sports, like triathletes, as they provide an easy to consume supply of energy. Fat burners can have an effect, however, use them with caution. Often fat burners have stimulants or appetite suppressors, which, when combined with further stimulants, or an already limited diet, can have problematic consequences. If consumed safely and correctly, however, a good fat burner can help with weight loss, and some CLA can help with weight maintenance.
Creatine probably deserves its own article, however for now all that you need to know is that it helps a lot with strength and it’s safe when consumed under safe conditions through moderation and hydration. Again, creatine will not provide miracles for you, rather it will increase the ATP in your muscles, which will mean slightly more explosive energy in your muscles, which means an extra rep or two, or an extra kg or two.
Creatine is useful not only for strength, but also for bursts of energy, so if your sport involves sprinting, or a similar exercise, consider supplementing with some creatine and you will notice a rise in speed, and possibly a reduction in fatigue. Make sure you load your creatine as required (each strain of creatine requires a different process, so follow the instructions on the label), and make sure you drink slightly more water than you normally would.
It is clear then that there is a vast variety of supplementation available. I have not even touched on aspects like multi-vitamins, and joint supports. But the point is that you have the generally useful supplements that I have listed above, in addition to you-specific supplements which you will find through research, advice, or just a good looking supplement stack on special.