As you get started on your mission to improve your health and fitness level, it’s important that you make sure that you think not only about what you’ll be doing on the workout and nutrition side of things, but also what supplements you’ll use to help take your results up a notch.
While some supplements definitely can be more for the advanced crowd and not something that you need to concern yourself with when you’re getting started, others everyone should be using. They’re great for improving your health, boosting your workout performance, and helping you just feel your best on a day to day basis.
If you aren’t currently using these supplements, it’s time that you picked them up and made them a part of your daily protocol.
Let’s go over which supplements these are and why they’re so critical.
1. Protein Powder
The first product that everyone should have – even if they aren’t actively working out is protein powder. Now, when you hear the term ‘protein powder’, you might immediately think about a large bodybuilder in the gym, slamming back protein shakes in effort to bulk up.
If these are your goals, you’re golden – that’s exactly what you want. But, if you don’t want to get too bulky, instead, simply refining your physique, this could put you off protein powder entirely.
Which is a shame because it’s a critical supplement.
We all need so much protein each and every day. Even on non-exercise days, your body is still constantly creating new cells, enzymes, and hormones – all of which will require protein.
If you aren’t meeting your daily requirements, you simply can’t do this as effectively as you should. The end result is that you fail to sustain optimal growth and development. You might start feeling weak, tired, and health issues could set in.
At bare minimum, someone who isn’t exercising should be taking in around 0.6-0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight (1.2-1.6 gram per kilo). If you’re exercising, bump that up to 1 gram per pound (2 grams per kilo).
It can get hard getting all this protein in through real food sources, which is where protein powder comes in helpful. It’s ready when you are, so all you need to do is shake it up with some water or milk and you’re all set.
Add to this that certain protein powders are formulated to digest very quickly in the body and this makes it a great supplement for using immediately post workout.
By taking it in, you can get a jump-start on the recovery process, ensuring that you see optimal muscle rebuilding.
Vegetarians as well will significantly benefit from having protein powder in their daily diet as they’re most likely to be falling short. They can opt for whey powder if they choose to include dairy in their diet or instead go for hemp protein.
2. Essential Chain Amino Acids – EAA
The next product to consider getting into your diet plan is essential chain amino acids.
EAA’s will help to prevent the breakdown of muscle mass tissue, decreasing the amount of recovery you’ll have to go through after your workout session is completed.
EAA is a great way to up your amino acids intake (“protein intake”) without adding significant amount of extra calories.
Later years BCAA’s have been all the rave but research clearly shows them to be inferior to both whey and EAA’s.
3. Quality Multi-Vitamin
Moving along, it’s also a wise move to get a high quality multi-vitamin in your protocol as well. It can be really challenging to ensure that you’re eating right 100% of the time and the multi-vitamin will help provide back up support when you need it.
Especially when you do get into a period of dieting down to shed body fat and are consuming fewer calories than normal, it’s easy to fall short in certain nutrients. If you let this turn into a full blown deficiency, it could go on to really have a significant impact on your energy levels, metabolic rate, and how your body is functioning overall.
Using the multi-vitamin will give you the peace of mind in knowing that you’re covered.
If you don’t feel like you need a full multi-vitamin, you can instead opt for just singular nutrients as well. You will have to be much more on top of your nutritional intake though to go this route, figuring out how much of each nutrient you are currently getting each day.
4. Fish Oil
Fish oil is next up on the list of must-have supplements that everyone should be taking in. Fish oil is going to provide the important omega-3 fatty acids that everyone needs and that few people get enough of.
Omega-3 fats are typically found in foods like salmon, flaxseeds, and chia seeds, so unless you’re eating these regularly, you’re likely falling short.
This fat is an essential fat, meaning your body needs it and cannot make it on its own, so it must come from food or supplementation. It’s important for helping to increase insulin sensitivity levels (which will help keep you leaner over time), for promoting optimal brain health and function, for combating depression, for boosting heart health, for decreasing your risk factor for stroke, along with a whole bunch of other key benefits.
All in all, fish oil is one of the most beneficial products that you could be putting into your body. Everyone needs it – regardless of your age, gender, or training status.
You should aim for around 3-6 grams of fish oil per day for optimal results. The more fatty fish you eat, the lower your dosage can be. Usually one capsule contains around 1 gram of fish oil, so this means using 3-6 caps per day. They can be taken all at once, or broken down into two servings if desired.
Just do keep in mind that as this is an oil, it will provide your body will calories, so this must be accounted for. There are about 10 calories per capsule, so add that into your daily total.
Another great supplement to have with you as you head into the gym is creatine monohydrate. Creatine monohydrate is the precursor to the high energy compound, ATP, which resides in the muscle cell and is responsible for each and every muscular contraction that takes place at high intensity.
During your resistance training, you’re relying on ATP to fuel the workout and when stores run low, your workout intensity is going to drop severely. This means lack of performance and in some cases, you’ll need to leave the gym entirely.
If creatine stores are low, this means that ATP will naturally be lower as production will cease as soon as that creatine runs out. So by supplementing with creatine, you can ensure that your muscle tissues have a full supply of this important molecule.
Going into the workout, you’ll be armed and ready to work longer and harder, which can then lead to increased muscle size and strength.
Some people mistakenly think that it’s the creatine itself that’s helping to build muscle mass, but in reality, the creatine is simply helping you do more work, and it’s that extra work that gets you the results.
Creatine can be taken whenever you want during the day. You should aim for about 5 grams per day in order to maintain your levels at full saturation.
You can choose to do a loading period if you wish to get to full saturation sooner upon starting the product, in which case you would take 20 grams per day, broken up into 4, 5 gram servings, for five days straight. After that, you move right into the maintenance level of five grams per day.
Note that you may gain some water weight when first starting creatine, so don’t be alarmed if you see this happening. Drink a little extra water while taking it and it’ll help minimize this effect.
6. Vitamin D
The next product to know about is vitamin D. Vitamin D is important because unless you’re drinking multiple glasses of milk each day (which most adults are not), you’re going to be falling low in your requirements.
The most predominant source of vitamin D is direct sunlight as the body will manufacture it on its own when exposed to UV-rays. The problem with this however is that in order to manufacture vitamin D, you need to be in direct sunlight without sun protection, which then will increase your risk of skin cancer. As such, it’s not a viable solution to achieve full status, and to add to that, most people live in areas where getting sufficient sunlight would be challenging itself.
Therefore, supplementation is a smart move. Vitamin D is heavily involved in sustaining optimal health and is also important for keeping your athletic performance up.
Some of the key benefits of using vitamin D include improved muscle strength, increased bone density, improved body composition, enhanced blood glucose control, improved brain health, as well as enhanced libido and sexual health as well.
These are just a few of the benefits you’ll see from getting enough of this nutrient, so it’s not one to be missed.
Aim for 2000 to 5000 I.U.’s daily for optimal results.
Finally, the last supplement that you’ll want to be sure you’re taking in is a magnesium and calcium combination. If you are currently drinking plenty of milk (or eating other dairy products), you may not need the calcium added in and magnesium will be fine on its own.
This is another nutrient that many people do fall short in with their diet and is one that will help with your sleep cycle. Taking it just before bed may mean you can fall asleep more soundly, giving your body the rest and recovery it needs for optimal performance during your next workout session.
Magnesium is also important for producing insulin-like Growth Factor, which is then going to help contribute to your muscles getting larger and stronger. It also helps to relax the CNS, so after a hard workout session, may help give you the rest that you need.
Finally, it’s also important for keeping the bones healthy and strong, so will work in conjunction to vitamin D and calcium for preventing breaks and fractures.
One thing to note however is that too much magnesium can cause diarrhea, so you do want to watch how much you’re taking in. Supplement with 400 mg per day (for men) and 300 mg per day (for women) to stay within safe levels.
If you do start suffering from diarrhea, take a few days off the supplement and then restart. It will build up in your body and this is what can cause this to occur.
So there you have a closer look at some of the top supplements you should be using. If you currently aren’t, take a trip to your supplement store and pick them up so that you can start seeing optimal results moving forward.