Supplementation can be a confusing and challenging subject but that’s because a lot of the advice on the subject can overcomplicate it.
Here I’ve put together some key ideas to help you get started.
The first thing I want you to always remember is that supplementation still needs a strong foundation in healthy diet and training routines. Without these two things firmly in place, you won’t benefit from supplements to their fullest potential.
The next key thing to ask yourself when looking at supplements is what is your reason and purpose for each one you are interested in taking. With that in mind, you can control your intake and dosage to make sure it measures up to your specific reasons. I come across a lot of people who are using loads of supplements but aren’t benefiting from them because they aren’t consuming the correct dosages or timing it correctly. You see this frequently with mineral supplementation. You should always keep calcium away from other minerals such as zinc and magnesium because your body won’t absorb them correctly. It’s important to remember to take mineral supplements at different times of the day.
That’s just one very basic example of how putting the right amount of effort into your supplementation choices can make a big difference.
I’m often asked what supplements are essential and well, the unexciting truth is it really depends on the individual, their goals, needs, and even gender. However, I do feel that there are certain supplements that can hold benefits for at least 90% of the training population. Read on for my list of the most universally advantageous supplements you can take to improve your fitness.
Probiotics & Digestive Enzymes
These two supplements taken together make up the ultimate gut health combination that helps break down the foods you’re eating and also maintain a positive environment for good bacteria. Remember that you’re hopefully eating a lot of food. Therefore your gut needs supporting properly.
L-glutamine can be a very good anti-catabolic agent and is also very good for gut health. I feel that this amino acid provides a very good backbone to your supplement stack, aiding both in recovery and indigestion.
Those supplements are very important especially around strenuous workouts because they help counteract excessive catabolism and support recovery. Specifically, the leucine from BCAAs helps stimulate your muscle protein synthesis (MPS) levels. BCAAs are especially important on a fat loss transformation because you will potentially be more prone to catabolism whilst in an energy deficit.
The different types of protein powder vary in their potential benefit depending on the time of day. Everybody should use a fast-digesting hydrolyzed whey post-workout, as a means of driving amino acids into the muscle cell to replenish the area and kick-start the recovery process. However, some people will also benefit from a time-released multi-blend formula during the day or before bed, if it hasn’t been possible to fit a whole meal in. I do always advocate solid food and it IS NOT healthy to start using shakes all of the time as meal replacements. However, when there’s no alternative, this can be a good supplement to use because you will get a broad spectrum of amino acids being fed into the muscle over a longer period of time.
Diets rich in Omega 3s can improve cardiac health, cholesterol levels, reduce inflammation and even have the potential to improve insulin sensitivity. On top of all these benefits, supplementing with Omega 3s can also improve your Omega 6/Omega 3 ratio which is often out of balance – especially on a high protein diet.
Greens powders offer many benefits, including increasing your overall fiber intake, providing a good source of phytonutrients and ultimately aiding health and digestion. Starting your morning with a greens drink and L-glutamine is a great way to jump-start your day and improve your fitness routine.
Don’t forget that it’s important that your diet and workouts are in place first before you start looking to supplements. It’s also equally as important that you understand what functions you want to be getting from your supplementation so that you can make an informed decision about whether you really need to take them or not.
Training Perf OwnerPersonal Trainer,
Nutritionist, IFBB athlete