What should we be looking for in supplementation?
The fitness market is a bit of a mess, if you’re unsure of where to go and what do to then you’ll often find that a simple task like choosing a protein powder often becomes as complex as possible.
I’m going to cover the top three supplements that I have recommended over the years. Now if you’re genuinely serious about your health and fitness, you may want to undertake blood work with an appropriate lab to ensure that you are actually deficient in the things you are taking. Otherwise you’ll be creating extremely expensive urine.
Before we move onto the top five supplements and what they do, we should always start with your diet. Supplements are exactly as they say, supplementation to a healthy diet. For myself, supplements are a convenient way to get micronutrients into my diet when I don’t have time to shop around for the plethora of foods that I would love to include in my everyday eating regime.
The average population are deficient in protein. I wrote an article a while back on the many roles that protein has outside of simply just muscle repair but as this is being published on a fitness blog let’s concentrate there for now.
Types of protein powder:
These are generally going to be your top found proteins and all have different absorption rates and different amino acid profiles. Whey is our most popular one due to the quick absorption rate of the protein. However, many people may wish to take a different alternative especially if they are vegetarian or vegan or dependent on their heritage. A lot of non-caucasian people will find that they have slight intolerances to lactose and therefore whey protein simply makes them bloated or gassy. A feeling that no one wants.
In the past I drank Branched Chain Amino Acids like they were going out of fashion. The anti catabolic effect of BCAAs appealed to my desire to not lose muscle mass (because the fitness market told me so). However, the fact of the matter is that if you’re eating a complete diet, chances are you are obtaining all your amino acids anyway.
So who should take BCAAs?
BCAAs can often give that spur of energy for those that train in the early morning without eating beforehand. The anti catabolic effect here can be desirable as the person is waking from a fast. They taste delicious and can often be a good addition to those who train fasted!
ZMA and Vitamin D
I’m going to put this one in here from the perspective of men. The below is taken from Examine.com
one of my go to sources for supplement information.
Lower testosterone → less energy to exercise, feeling crappy leads to stress eating
Less exercise and worse eating → lower testosterone, and so on and so on…
So clearly you can see from this that testosterone is pretty key. ZMA is one of the only supplements out there that is proven to help boost testosterone levels but again to be 100% sure you should ensure that you are actually deficient before taking any supplement.
In sunny old England (except for this Summer) we don’t receive as much Vitamin D as the rest of the world. As a result, the average person is deficient in Vitamin D. There’s a reason people are generally happier in sunnier countries and why rates of depression increase as you get closer to the arctic circle. Vitamin D has a huge effect on both mood and testosterone levels.
The supplement world can go much further than this. It’s worth noting that at the moment of writing this, I currently take 1 scoop of protein powder to boost my overall intake. This is simply taken post workout. I also take a greens powder which I will write more about in the coming blogs. The point being that the vast majority of my nutrition comes from a well managed diet. This saves me a fortune on supplements and makes my food much more enjoyable!