Your fitness lifestyle has been progressing just as you planned. You’re feeling better, looking better, and you’re in the best shape of your life. Now that you have a good fitness base, you have started thinking about adding some nutritional supplements to your diet.
The good news is that this decision could be just the boost you’ve been looking for to help your reach your peak fitness potential. The bad news is that it can be extremely confusing in the beginning. Let’s simplify the process with this basic introduction to supplements.
What Are Nutritional Supplements?
According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the term nutritional, or dietary, supplement refers to a product that is intended for digestion that contains a dietary ingredient such as vitamins, herbs, minerals, amino acids, extracts, or concentrates.
That sounds simple enough. However, the confusion begins when you try to determine exactly which one of these supplements is right for you. Do you want to increase muscle mass, lose weight, increase energy, increase endurance, or gain weight? Well, there’s a supplement for that.
Before you go out and buy a nutritional supplement that may, or may not, be what you need, take a look at some of these commons supplements that flood that market.
You don’t need flashy brands – we get our supplements online from the very un-flashily named Bulk Powders good quality, cheap and delivered to your door – they also do a great range in food and snacks (we love the protein pancakes as a weekend breakfast treat!)
Whey Protein Powder
Whey is a byproduct of milk that is used in protein powders. Perfect for post-workout nutrition, whey protein comes in a variety of flavors and can provide you with the following health benefits:
- Promotes lean muscle mass
- Increases muscle strength
- Decrease blood pressure
- Decrease stress
- Increase bone mineral density
- Improve immune function
We use Pure Whey 90
Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA’s)
BCAA’s are another popular supplement for gaining, and maintaining, muscle mass. BCAA’s can be consumed during and post-workout to increase protein synthesis. This may make it an ideal choice to pair it with whey protein powder.
BCAA’s may also provide some of the following health benefits:
- Improving exercise performance
- Promoting faster recovery from workouts
- Reduced muscle soreness from training
You can buy powdered BCAAs in neutral flavour (not so great tasting), or flavoured – we go for the Berry!
One of the most scrutinized and clinically tested supplements on the market, creatine monohydrate is most likely a name that you have heard before. Creatine has been proven to be safe and its low-cost and long shelf life make it one of the most popular supplements out there.
Consuming creatine before and/or after workouts will increase its effectiveness. It’s a good choice if you’re looking for any of the following benefits:
- Increased energy
- Increases cell volumization (muscle size)
- Improved strength
- Improved muscle endurance
- Reduced fatigue
- Improved cognitive function
Pre-workout supplements have seen a meteoric rise in popularity over the last 15 years. Now you hear individuals state that they can’t train without it. As the name proclaims, this is a supplement that is meant to be consumed before you begin exercising.
Be sure to follow the directions carefully and properly asses your tolerance. Pre-workouts are a stimulant based supplement that will give you an instant shot of energy when used correctly. When used incorrectly, it can cause jitters and a severe loss of concentration.
Using a pre-workout supplement can provide the following benefits:
- Increased energy
- Increased alertness
- Enhanced cognitive function
- Increased vascularity
- Increased muscle mass
- Enhanced mood
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to nutritional supplements. I quick internet search will reveal hundreds more, ranging from arginine pills to zinc capsules. This introduction is just to give you the basics and get you headed in the right direction.
Be sure to do your research and always follow the provided instructions. If you have committed to a fitness goal, there’s definitely a nutritional supplement to help you achieve it.