You go to the gym. You train hard. You eat healthy. You get enough sleep. You stay hydrated. You do everything you can to increase your muscle strength and size while decreasing the fat. What else can you possibly do that can add to your training? Supplement. There are tons of them out there, and tons that are worthless – you might as well eat sawdust as it will produce the same effects. Supplements are a huge market. The shelves are littered with colorful, hyped up bottles of promises. If you don’t know exactly what you are looking for or what you should be taking, it can make your head spin. Here are the top six supplements you should be taking – in no particular order:
No way. Yes, whey! Ah, the powerhouse of muscle bulk and nutrition. Whey Protein is what makes muscles strong. It is vital to have protein to build muscle. Every time you train, you cause a “ripping” of your muscle fibers. The protein helps in healing these muscles at their new “size” and allows them to stay big and ready for the next training session. This next session causes the same effective “ripping”, protein heals it and the cycle goes on and on. Protein repair causes the mass. Nothing else can assist in this process like Whey. Whey is a fast protein that is absorbed quite quickly into your system. Because Whey is a natural bi-product of cheese production, you are getting an all-natural boost. The process for whey powder is simple: The liquid whey is separated from the casein and sent through filters to remove all non-whey ingredients. The water is removed from the whey by turning it into a powder at a drying tower. It gets packaged and shelved at your local store. No additives, no preservatives, no fillers no colors. You won’t be putting anything into your body that can harm it or cause you to have to work harder (i.e.: no sugars or salts to add extra weight). Whey protein contains 9 amino acids – nine essential amino acids is unheard of in any other supplement. The bottom line is that it is the safest, most natural supplement to take to bulk up those muscles. Nothing else has the proven results that Whey does. Whey should become a staple – a part of your training – just like lifting is.
This popped on the market in the late 90’s and has been shooting to the tops of every serious body builder’s list of “must haves” in their workout arsenal. No other supplement has been tested more in depth, for as long or as often as creatine. Creatine is in your system naturally but it was discovered that by ingesting creatine before lifting, there is an amazing boost of energy that helps propel you to heavier weights and more reps. One of creatine’s properties is its tendency to attract water, and in the body, water will collect in areas where creatine collects, such as in the muscles. This bulks up the muscle. Yes, when you stop creatine the water will leave the muscle tissue but what you have left is pure lean muscle. Creatine is like a Red Bull for your muscle tissue. It gives you a mega burst of energy to work out harder and longer. You build more muscle and when you go off of creatine, you don’t lose that muscle – just the excess water. For years people have been bringing up possible issues or problems with creatine such as dehydration or bloating. Dehydration can happen a bit faster while taking creatine due to the water pull (that shows it’s powerful draw) but can easily be combatted by drinking a bit more water than you normally would – a glass or two. Creatine is a must have for lean muscles. Pair it with Whey and you will be unstoppable.
Casein is like Whey’s slower brother. In a nutshell it contains the same amino acids as Whey and produces the same results but a smaller amount over a longer period of time. Whey is quickly absorbed while Casein is in no hurry at all. It forms a gelatinous ball in your stomach/small intestines and is harder to break down and send through the body. If you have a long day of training, casein may be a more level, long lasting choice for you.
No matter how careful and consistent you are with your daily dietary intake, there are going to be days you just don’t get all you need. Sometimes, what you need is in short supply in the foods you eat – no matter how healthy they may be. This is where multivitamins step in and take up the slack. Vitamins are usually just something that is popped and not thought much about. Check to see what exactly is in your multivitamin. Some that are high in calcium (usually multivitamins made especially for women) should be taken with food. Taking a multivitamin is a great way to supplement but if you take multiple vitamins instead of one complete multivitamin, you need to check to see when the best time or with what it should be taken. Some are better with food, some on an empty stomach, etc. If you find your multivitamin is a bit harsh on your stomach, take it with food, as most vitamins do well with food. If this doesn’t solve the problem, take it at night before bed with plenty of water.
Branch Chain Amino Acids. These are actually found in Whey and Cassein Protein so if you are taking those, another dose is unnecessary. If you are sticking with just creatine, then add the BCAA’s. Branch Chain Amino Acids promote muscle growth and muscle protein synthesis over time. They help with muscle recovery and growth and in time will do wonders for the size of your muscles. Healthy, natural and a very essential group of amino acids – your total body will benefit.
6) Fish Oil:
This may sound fishy, but it has its properties that can’t be found elsewhere. Unless you plan on downing salmon on a daily basis, fish oil is a must have addition to your daily supplements. Fish oil contains Omega 3 fatty acids which are harder to find in daily food, except fish. Omega 6 is in red meat, eggs and others. The omega 6 and 3’s need a balance and fish oil supplementation can do this. It helps with your blood vessels, lipid (fat) count and reduces plaque buildup that can affect your heart. It is not something that you will notice a difference with right away, it takes about a week before changes will be felt. Added note: Freeze the capsules or eat them with food, otherwise you may be a victim of vicious “fish burps” which can be pretty nasty.
These core supplements are the best possible additions to your training – they will enhance all the hard work you have been doing and help you to continue to build muscle, lose fat and be healthy.