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The supplement industry is a multi-billion dollar industry that is continuing to grow year after year. When looking to purchase supplements a few things need to be considered. One, supplements are not regulated by the FDA. This means there is no governing body that has to “approve” the supplement before it is marketed. Secondly, not all supplements sold on the shelves produce results. Supplement labels can be very misleading therefore it is important for the consumer to research a product before they make a purchase. Lastly, not all supplement companies are created equal. Not only should consumers do research on a specific compound but on the company as well. Sometimes it makes sense to spend a little more money on your supplements to ensure you are getting the highest quality available. Put it this way, what is the sense in saving a couple dollars when the company that made the supplement you purchased uses low quality ingredients and cannot meet label claims? Quality over quantity!
Here is a list of what I recommend to my clients when selecting supplements.
– Essential supplements (For all athletes – general health/body composition)
- Multi Vitamin – Cover all of your micronutrient bases! Its best to try and meet all of your micronutrient needs through food but having a multivitamin is a good way to ensure you are not deficient in one micronutrient. I’m not a huge advocate of the expensive “sports performance” multi vitamins. In my opinion this is one area where you can afford to be stingy. Just go to an online supplement store (like Tiger Fitness) and purchase a cheap one a day multi vitamin and call it a day. For most of you that will be more than sufficient. The only objection to that rule is an extremely hard training athlete and/or bodybuilder getting ready for a contest that will need to take into account a greater micronutrient demand. Again that can be accomplished through food or getting a higher quality multivitamin supplement. I prefer the former.
Here are a couple products to take a look at:
- Protein Powder – Protein powder is great for meeting your daily protein requirement and should be included in your diet. Despite what you all may think there is nothing all that special about drinking protein shakes. It is just highly concentrated, highly bio available protein. The biggest benefit gained from including a protein powder in your diet is convenience. However, it should be used in conjunction with a good diet that is based on high quality whole food protein sources. I personally recommend a whey protein powder due to the high BCAA content and especially leucine for the muscle protein syntheses benefits. I recommend looking for a product that has a blend of whey concentrate and whey isolate. Both forms have their benefits. Watch my review of MTS Nutrition Whey, my protein powder of choice!
Check this product out here:
- Healthy Fat – This category can be considered both a supplement and food similarly to protein powder. Everyone has heard about the benefits of mono and poly unsaturated fats and supplementing with omega 3 fatty acids. They are essential nutrients that are involved in numerous physiological processes within the body. I recommend getting a high quality omega 3 supplement as well as a healthy fat oil source such as macadamia nut oil to add some healthy fats to your diet. MCT oils also offer a lot of fat loss and energy production benefits.
Some products to take a look at:
Next step (Recovery and Muscle Building)
- BCAAs – During workout nutrition, BCAAs are basically low calorie muscle food! Take 5-10g BCAAs during your workout. They help increase muscle protein synthesis as well as aid in recovery. Great overall supplement.
Some products to take a look at:
- Creatine Monohydrate– Great supplement for building strength and muscle. Take 3-5g daily, it can be all at once or split up over two doses such as pre and post workout on training days. Creatine monohydrate is the most scientifically researched and backed form of creatine available. The biggest benefit of creatine monohydrate is the fact that it is cheaper than any other form of creatine plus has been shown to be more effective. There is no better value than creatine monohydrate.
Any creatine monohydrate product will do, here is one with a particularly good value:
- Pre Workout Supplement– When looking for a pre workout supplement look for a product that has stimulants such as caffeine to get you energized along with muscle builders beta alanine and creatine. If you are getting a 3-5g dose of creatine from your pre workout you do not need to supplement with extra creatine. However, most pre workout formulas do not have a substantial amount of creatine in them. Another thing to look for in a pre workout is Arginine or Arginine AKG. Arginine and N.O is what the product category was built around but there is not a lot of research to support its muscle building benefits. If a form of Arginine is included in your pre workout product of choice great but if not I wouldn’t worry about it.
Some products to look at:
Stimulant Fat Burner – A stimulant based fat burner works by up regulating your metabolic rate causing your body to burn more calories. They are not magic; you need to be on a calorie restricted diet along with a training plan conducive to fat loss for these to work. Look for a product that contains Caffeine, Yohimbe, Green tea, Synephrine, Cayenne Pepper among its ingredients. Even consider adding an additional yohimbe product to your fat burning stack if the thermogenic you choose does not have it or you want to take a higher dose.
Some products to look at:
- Carnitine- Carnitine is a compound that is a combination of the amino acids lysine and methionine. It works as a fat burner by transporting fatty acids into the mitochondria of the cell where it can be used for energy. Carnitine provides muscle building benefits as well and is a great overall supplement. For extreme fat loss stack a thermogenic stimulant fat burner with Carnitine.