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If there's one question we get from clients over and over, it's what supplements we recommend. This is always a tough question to answer because there is so much misinformation out there and many people think they are an end all be all.
The truth is proper training, and a well-balanced diet are far more important than supplements. We always first try to encourage a natural, whole food diet before trying supplements. Supplements can help if your diet is missing key components or you are an individual that doesn't absorb or produce certain nutrients. But overall, people would benefit from improving there diet and lifestyle rather than just buying a bunch of supplements.
That being said, many folks DON'T have a quality diet, have busy lifestyles, and are looking for high level sport performance. In these cases, supplements can definitely help bridge nutritional gaps, be beneficial to health, improve athletic performance, enhance energy, and assist strength, power, speed, endurance, and recovery.
The next step is to educate our clients on proper supplementation and the truth behind the research. Below are actual research backed and proven supplements that work.
Beta-Alanine - Beta-Alanine is the building block or carnosine. Carnosine is a molecule that aids in the buffering of acid in muscles and may aid in gain muscle. Due to this acid buffering, beta-alanine can improve exercise capacity, improve repeat sprint ability, and has even been shown to reduce fat mass while maintaining lean muscle mass. Shoot for between 2-6grams per day.
Creatine Monoydrate- Creatine may be the most researched supplement of all-time, and despite it's incredible beneficial effects, it still has common negative myths that refuse to die.
Creatine is a natural substance that occurs in the body and is very important in the creatine phosphate energy system, which is our fast/short-term energy system that rapidly produces ATP. It is found in many foods, but getting even more has great benefits to gaining muscle mass, increasing exercise performance, increasing endurance and power, and can improve work capacity. Shoot for about 3-6grams per day.
Whey Protein - Another one of the most studied supplements of all-time, whey protein is a staple in any health conscious persons diet. Whey is a component of milk protein, and is a good addition to anyone's diet. It has been shown to decrease fat, increase lean body mass, improve protein synthesis, and aid in recovery and muscle gain. Try getting about 20-30grams post exercise. Another great option is to add whey protein to shakes or smoothies for a great meal replacement.
Whey Concentrate vs Whey Isolate - Another question often asked is whether concentrate or isolate is better. Concentrate and isolate are very similar; isolate is the same as concentrate, but with 1-step further in processing. The major different is concentrate has about an 70-85% protein ratio, while isolate has a 90-94% protein ratio. Isolate is also lower in fat, carbs, and has no lactose, but it also lacks some immune boosting substances and tends to be a little more expensive.
Caffeine - That's right, the caffeine in your coffee is more beneficial than just waking you up (which after a while actually fades away). Caffeine is a huge ergogenic aid that enhances exercise resistance, reduces pain perception, has been shown to increase endurance output while at the same time has been shown to benefit strength and power.
The only tidbit is to keep consumption under control. The more you drink, the more you become "use to" the effect, and may end up needing more and more to receive the benefits. Over consumption of caffeine can also effect your adrenals and nervous system negatively. So try to stick to the recommended amount each day, more is not necessarily better. If you've never taken caffeine before start at about 100mg and slowly work your way up. Many studies use 7-9mg per pound of bodyweight in research. Most cups of coffee have between 100-200mg of caffeine in it depending on it's strength.
Combining both creatine and caffeine is the ultimate performance supplement. It's helps both the strength, power, speed, and anaerobic spectrum but can also the aerobic spectrum. Save this combination on important days or games.
Fish Oil - Fish oil refers to the fatty acids EPA and DHA and are often better known as Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Fish oil has been shown to help reduce blood pressure, inflammation, depression, triglycerides, and keep your heart healthy. The Omega-3 fat family is very important for overall health and taking a fish oil can help increase levels of Omega-3, which many people lack. It's important to make sure you're getting between 2-4grams total of EPA+DHA. This total number is important so make sure you're checking the label to know how much EPA and DHA is in the product.
Curcumin - Curcumin is commonly found in turmeric and curry spices. It is a yellowish color, and is an extremely powerful anti-inflammatory to go along with providing a good deal of antioxidants and cancer fighting properties. Curcumin will interest athletes because of it's powerful ability to reduce inflammation and pain. In fact, supplementing with Curcumin may have equal to better reduction in pain and swelling than ibuprofen. What's unique about Curcumin is it blocks a host of inflammatory compounds, as opposed to most NSAID's (ibuprofen, Tylenol) blocking just one particular inflammatory compound. Shoot for between 4-5grams each day to get a natural anti-inflammatory and pain killer.
Greens Superfood - A greens superfood mixture is a multivitamin on steroids. It provides many of the same benefits as a multivitamin, but also provide fiber, phytonutrients, antioxidants, and probiotics. They pack a ton of veggies and fruits into a single serving and like their name suggests, pack all the superfoods into one place. A greens superfood can assist in digestion, lowering blood pressure, fight illness and sickness, protect immune system, and aid in energy, focus.
Go Get 'Em!