There are so many different supplements being promoted everyday by loads of different people, its hard to tell what is good and what isn't. Well this blog post should clear some things up for you.
I am going to start by answering the question (as simply as I can) and the answer to this question is like the answer to every other fitness related question, it depends, on you as an individual and your goals. I know that was a bit anti climatic, considering I was babbling on about being clear earlier, but if you read the rest of this blog post it will surely give you some knowledge and help YOU answer this question.
Please be aware that I am partnered with the monster supplements and PHD and so I earn a small commission when products are bought through the links I have provided below, with no extra cost to you. I am partnered with them because I love their range and they have great prices.
But, short answer, for those average and healthy individuals, NONE. You do not need to be taking any supplements. Stay with me on this one. I will be going into more detail into different supplements, what they are for, pro's and con's, where I like to get my supplements from, and why ultimately, you do not NEED them.
Let me start off by going over the ridiculous supplements that 'fitness models' and celebrities promote on daily basis. The infamous fit teas, body wraps, waist trainers, fat burning pills ETC. Long story short, none of these will help you reach your goals, you will either lose weight in an unsustainable way and eventually put it all back on, poop out the fatty oil you consume or even more ridiculously, change the shape of your ribs to create a waist, you do not have and should not have (more information on the waist trainers on my blog post 'How to make your waist smaller'). For all of you who are contemplating getting any of these products or something similar, let me save your time and body by telling you there is no magic tea or pill that will help you lose weight, get a bigger booty or get abs. It takes time, effort and a lot of patience. The celebrities and fitness models who promote this stuff are getting paid and half of them have had surgery to look how they look and the other half have actually worked there butt off to look how they look. So please, do some research or contact someone who has some knowledge on the subject (I am always happy to help) to help you understand how to reach your goal in a sustainable way, a way your body is going to thank you for.
Now, lets look into the more controversial supplements;
1. Protein powder
Nowadays, there are loads of different types of protein powder available because of the fitness trend. From whey to pea protein, whether you are a omnivore of vegan, there is a protein powder for you, and in loads of different flavours for that matter.
What is it?
Protein powder (or protein shakes, because you can buy them pre-made) is a mix of a powdered form of protein (traditionally whey, which is the protein found in milk) and other ingredients like emulsifier, sweetener (if you are looking at flavoured protein) , thickeners and maybe even some colouring.
What is it for?
Protein shakes are just another way to get more protein into your diet. Protein is essential for fat loss and muscle gain and so protein powder can be beneficial to majority of gym goers. Especially when it comes to complete proteins like whey (fast release), casein (slow release) or soy, as they contain all 9 essential amino acids. It is also used as a meal supplement for those who are trying to lose weight or as an additional meal for those trying to gain weight/muscle or for those who do not want to cook or do not have time to prepare a meal, as it takes 2 minutes to prepare (or no time if you buy the pre-made shakes) and can be consumed on the go.
- Good source of protein. High protein content (obviously).
- Promotes muscle growth. Especially for those who train, protein shakes initiates recovery as soon as ingested.
- Easy to incorporate. Takes 0-2 minutes to prepare.
- Speedy digestion. Whey protein is a fast digesting powder.
- Low in fat. Compared to food proteins like eggs, beef and chicken, the fat to protein ratio is fairly low. So protein shakes can benefit those who are trying to lose weight.
- Can be used as a healthy alternative to dessert. Because of the variety of flavours, protein shakes can satisfy your sweet tooth.
- Too much protein does not help you. If you are consuming protein shakes for the protein, but your diet already provides you enough protein, there is no point.
- Bad for those who are lactose intolerant. Can easily cause upset stomach/gas.
- Lacks other nutrients that you get in food. Like, vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates and healthy fats which are available in dietary protein like meat or beans, but you wont find this in protein shakes.
- Does not taste as good as real food. More and different flavours available from food. (Another obvious one).
- Will not provide the same satisfied feeling as real food. Eating solid foods, instead of drinking liquid foods, can make you feel fuller for longer. So drinking protein shakes may lead you to eat more.
- Can be costly
If you are wondering how to figure out how much protein you need. You can find out here.
For those who want to maintain or lose weight/fat - ON gold standard whey isolate has low calories, low fat and high protein
What is it?
Creatine is a molecule that our bodies produce naturally. It is made in our kidneys by amino acids and stored as phosphocreatine in our muscles, ready to be used for energy. Phosphocreatine helps provide immediate energy and so is useful when exercising, especially during heavy lifts or a high intensity workout. There are different types of creatine supplements. The most popular and most researched one is creatine monohydrate. Several factors affect your body's creatine stores, including meat intake, exercise, amount of muscle mass and levels of hormones.
What is it for?
Creatine is a susbstance produced naturally by our body, it helps our body during heavy lifting or workouts of high intensity, consuming more helps us to perform better when exercising by providing out body more energy.
- Helps muscle cells produce more energy.
- Can increase muscle size through cell volumization.
- Improves performance.
- Its cheap.
- It is safe in the short and long term.
- Helps add muscle mass. Creatine stimulates processes within the body that lead to muscle growth.
- Creatine, like any other supplement, comes with possible side effects. These side effects include nausea, muscle cramping, muscle pain and diarrhea.
- The only other cons to creatine, would be brought about if you take it for something other than its intended purpose or if you don't follow the recommended dosage. But this would be the same with any supplement or pill.
3. BCAA's (Branch chain amino acids)
What is it?
BCAA's are essential amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein.
There are 20 amino acids, 9 of which are essential. 8 of these essential amino acids need to be supplied externally as they cannot be synthesised in the body. BCAA's are usually in powder or tablet form.
What is it for?
For those who find it hard to get enough in their daily diet as the essential amino acids aid in muscle growth, energy production, immune function and nutrient absorption It is not needed if you get enough protein in your daily diet.
- Easy to digest
- Taste good
- Reduced DOMS
- Aids muscle maintenance and growth
- Can deplete B vitamins
- Cannot replace high quality protein sources
There is a reason these products are called 'supplements'. They should be used to help bump up your nutrition but never regularly in the long term. I am a true believer in the power of your diet and training your body without supplements, however, supplements are not always bad and can help depending on your goal.
What is it?
Pre-workout is a supplement designed to be taken before a workout to boost your energy levels for a workout and potentially improve performance.
It can come in different forms, the most popular being powder but also can find it in tablet form.
There isn't one set ingredient list, it differs with each brand but it tends to be a mix of caffeine, sugars (both of which provide the energy boost) and amino acids. Also, they tend to be low in calories.
Most pre-workouts are designed to be taken 30 minutes before the workout, but again this can differ depending on the brand.
What is it for?
Pre-workout can be beneficial on those days when you need an extra boost of energy in the gym. It is as simple as that.
Thank you all for reading. Please leave a comment, I would love to know your thoughts and please share with your friends and family.
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