Supplementation may be one of the most daunting tasks for anyone to dive into. No matter where you look, there’s always an ad, or some bottle on a shelf, yelling at you in big, bold letters that it’s going to make you grow 22 inch arms, or that you’ll completely burn off all of your fat, and lose 56lbs in 4 days. With statements so bold, it can be tempting to want to buy a bottle and see if the claims are true. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but most of these short term, huge promises made by supplement companies aren’t true, and they’re able to make these claims with an asterisks because the supplement industry isn’t regulated. To try and make it easy for you, here are 5 supplements that have scientific proof behind them to help give you the extra edge on performance. Whey:
Whey protein is one of the most well known protein supplements on the market, and that’s for good reason. It’s a complete protein, (with all 9 essential amino acids), that is easily digestible. It can be used to help promote lean muscle mass, and digests fairly quickly, so the protein consumed is able to reach the target tissues faster then other proteins. This is especially useful right after workouts in order too enhance recovery, and give your body the required protein it needs in order to rebuild from a strenuous activity. This can also be used throughout the day, in order to decrease appetite, while providing a source of protein, which can be beneficial for those attempting to lose weight or in a calorie deficit. Whey protein is fairly inexpensive, and can be bought at almost any store.
Casein protein has many of the same effects as whey protein. The difference is that it is digested much slower then whey is by our digestive system. The big benefits of this is that protein is slowly released into our system over several hours, which can lead to longer, time-released recovery. For someone wanting their body to have protein available to their body for recovery over night, or even for long periods without food throughout the day, drinking a shake of casein can help. The drawbacks are that this is usually a little bit more expensive, and has a clumpy taste to it because it doesn’t mix as well.
One of the more exciting supplements in recent studies. There has been so much speculation on creatine in the past that it was just a “water weight” gainer, or that you should be wary in taking it because it could cause kidney failure. Research in the past few years has proven otherwise. There are studies showing lean muscle mass gains, strength improvements, as well as a ton of possible other uses, with possible improvements in brain activity. Creatine is a naturally occurring substance in our bodies, and is also found in red meats. Creatine monohydrate is the cheapest and most available supplement, and is one I would recommended. There is not much difference in monohydrate vs. other more expensive brands.
Another supplement that has a lot of misguided, mixed feelings in the training world. Caffeine can be used for a wide variety uses such as improving alertness, increasing metabolism, and increasing aerobic and anerobic exercise performance. Caffeine has gotten a bad rap as being unhealthy to supplement in, but those claims are untrue. The possible unhealthiness associated with caffeine, is that we usually dump 3 spoon fulls of sugar into our coffee which may be offsetting the positive effects. Caffeine suppresses a hormone called serotonin, which gives us the feeling of being tired, and is the main reason everyone has their cup of joe in the morning. This can become a problem if we become dependent on coffee whenever we feel tired, and the effects may just be returning us to our baseline alertness. In order to reach the peak benefits of caffeine, it should be taken in situations where we aren’t just relying on it to keep us awake. Taking it post workout, may help to keep our body in a thermogenic state, or continuing to burn calories, long after we have completed our workout. Caffeine is also the main ingredient in almost every pre-workout supplement, so avoid spending $30 dollars on a tub of pre workout that has a load of long winded words and added unknown chemicals, and just supplement with caffeine.
With all of these above products, they are meant to supplement an already complete well balanced diet, and give the added nutrients you may not be getting enough through with food. The same goes for multivitamins. Eating the required amount of fruits and vegetables in the food market we live in today can be difficult, and the feeling you may receive by getting the vitamins you need can make the difference in everyday performance. A generic multivitamin from the supermarket can cover most of the basis, but the main vitamins I supplement with are vitamin B and D. Vitamin B complex vitamins have been shown to be a necessary tool in energy production, as well as protein synthesis and tissue repair. Vitamin D on the other hand, is required for calcium absorption, which plays a role in bone structure as well as skeletal muscle development.
These are 5 supplements that have been proven to give some additional positive affects in conjunction to a healthy diet and adequate exercise. There is so much on the market today that is unregulated, making ridiculous claims for quick improvements, but these are 5 that live up to the standards. This doesn’t mean that just taking these products is going to produce the results alone within a short period of time. It is great to add these supplements to a daily routine, but nothing can compete with hard work, and a consistent healthy lifestyle.