Let’s say you’re looking to lose a little fat and pack on some muscle. You’ve already got a healthy diet, a steady cardio routine, and some reliable weight-training workouts, so you head down to the nutrition store to pick up some new supplements—only to be stopped in your tracks by aisles and aisles of unpronounceable tubs filled with who knows what.
Don’t sweat it: Here are six research-backed supplements you should strongly consider on your quest to reach peak levels of health and fitness:
1. Protein Powder
Ask any expert and they’ll tell you the importance of consuming protein before and after workouts to stimulate muscle growth. Unfortunately, few people can schedule meals around workouts—and that’s where protein supplements, like powders and nutrition bars, come in handy. Need to eat and run? Forget the unhealthy, greasy fast food and grab a nutrition bar that’s high in quality protein, and essential fats and carbs. Have a little more time on your hands? Mix yourself a protein shake and make sure you are not consuming a chocolate chip cookie worth of sugar!
Want to build strength and lean muscle mass? Try creatine. When lifters supplement with creatine, their levels of insulin-like growth factor-1 can increase by more than 20%, which produces anabolic effects like increased muscle mass. Just be sure not to take excessive amounts, as various side effects have been reported. Three grams per day is a safe amount of creatine, according to the European Food Safety Authority.
A multi is pretty self explanatory and the golden child of supplementing as “insurance”. A multivitamin is there to give your hopefully whole foods based diet a boost and/or back up reserves. Unfortunately, four out of five people don’t get the recommended daily allowance of vitamins and minerals through food alone. Choose a multivitamin that contains the nutrients we need but is not over loaded with more than we can even use.
Is all that training making you feel run-down or even sick? If so, glutamine could help reduce inflammation and the risk of infection.. Glutamine might also help stimulate muscle growth by regulating glycogen within your body, thereby boosting performance and muscle growth.
5. Fish Oil
Omega 3 fatty acids are integral to our general health and provide benefits in a number of areas, such as cognitive function, fat burning and hormonal output. Many of us struggle to get enough oily fish in our diet so supplementing with a fish oil supp is one way around this.
6. Branched Chain Amino Acids – BCAAs
Do you find yourself experiencing post-workout muscle soreness and fatigue, but not seeing the fat-loss results you expect? If so, consider taking BCAAs. People who took BCAAs before and after exercise had a significant reduction in muscle sorenes. Furthermore, a Brazilian study discovered BCAA supplementation helped reduce fatigue and burn more fat in glycogen-depleted participants.