When selected and taken correctly, supplements can maximize your workout and enhance your fitness and health. But, unless your disposable income is unlimited and you can try each and every supplement on the shelves, it can be a challenging task to find a combination that works for you. To make it a little simpler, we have rounded up some expert tips to show you just how you can get that chiseled physique, without wasting your hard-earned cash.
Of course, before you take that dive into the world of supplements, the first thing you need to do is take a look at your diet. Food-state nutrition is best for the body and it can save you a great deal of money if you just start eating right. Forbes reminds us of the importance of striking a lifestyle balance:
It’s important to take stock of your lifestyle before forking over a dime. If you’re not eating right, getting enough sleep, cutting back on stress and exercising regularly-meaning at least a couple of times a week-supplements aren’t going to do a whole lot for you.
Certainly not only for the likes of Little Miss Muffet, whey protein powder tops the list as the most essential supplement for anyone who wants to bulk up. It is one of the most important supplements for promoting protein synthesis. Whey has lots of branched chain amino acids and is a milk protein. It is easily digestible and can be channeled quickly to the muscles. It also increases blood flow to the muscles through peptides, making it ideal as a post-training pick up.
Fox News has this piece of advice for selecting a whey protein product:
If you don’t want the typical gut distress that comes from eating protein powders, don’t just settle for any version of protein powder. Try to choose one without added soy and corn, with no artificial sweeteners, and with added digestive aids such as digestive enzymes and probiotics.
For optimal results, take 20 g about half an hour before a workout and then take another 40 g up to 60 minutes after training.
Casein Protein Powder
Casein only comes in second to whey because it is absorbed much slower by the body. But this makes it perfect as a protein supplement for just before bedtime. It also does not make you feel as full after consuming it so it can be taken before you hit the gym.
For maximum results, buy micellar casein (the slowest digesting type you can get your hands on) and take 20 to 40 g before going to bed. Add 10 to 20 g to your whey shake after your work out. If you want to add a little more, make a casein protein shake before going to bed.
An amino acid with a crucial role in muscle function, glutamine boosts muscle growth by increasing the leucine levels in your muscle fibers. It helps to slow down and reduce muscle breakdown and gives the immune system a boost. A healthier immune system means less chance of falling ill, missing work-outs and lowering your general fitness levels. When taken before training, glutamine can reduce muscle tiredness and elevate your growth hormone levels. New research also suggests that it may also play a central role in fat loss by encouraging energy and fat burning during training. While the body does produce glutamine, reserves of it can be depleted through vigorous exercise and activity.
For best results take 5 to 10 g of glutamine in the morning with breakfast and include glutamine in your pre and post-workout shakes. Also add it to your bedtime snack.
Perhaps best known as a fat loss supplement, carnitine is gaining recognition for its promotion of muscle growth. It is known to boost blood flow to the muscles in a similar way to nitrous oxide boosters, and increases testosterone production after a work-out.
For best results, take 1 to 3 g with breakfast, add it to your pre- and post-workout shakes and with your bedtime snack.
Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)
The body needs amino acids to make protein. Branched chain amino acids refer to isoleucine, leucine and valine. BCAAs are important supplements for building bulk because muscle tissues have a high density of them. They are essential for performance improvement, building muscle and for counteracting the effects of over-training. Athletes who do endurance or strength training should supplement with BCAAs because these types of exercise can deplete the body’s stores quite heavily.
So, how should BCAAs be taken for best results? Men’s Health says,
Look for supplements that are 50 percent leucine, 25 percent isoleucine, and 25 percent valine. Start off with 10 g per day, and wait a month before bumping up the dose. The maximum useful intake is probably 60 g a day from food and supplements.
Again, it is worth reviewing your diet before buying the supplement, as a few simple alterations to your eating plan could deliver the amounts you need to stay healthy. If you know you are not eating well and want to supplement your diet, add BCAAs to the plan.
Phosphatidylserines are found in cell membranes where they facilitate the movement of nutrients in and out of cells, as well as the elimination of waste. They are believed to counteract the effects of cortisol, which is a stress hormone that is released after heavy exercise.
Today most Phosphatidylserine is developed from soy. While the body generally does produce what it needs, Phosphatidylserine intake can be increased by up to 800 mg a day for athletes who want to improve their athletic performances. It is, however, not recommended for anyone who is taking blood thinners.
Ultimately supplements are there to fill in the gaps in your nutrition, not make up the bulk of it and should always be taken to support the food you eat. It is always a good idea to discuss supplements with your doctor, particularly if you suffer from an existing condition or are taking medication.