There are thousands of supplements out there so in an effort to sift through all the clutter, we’ve come up with our top 5 supplements that are proven to work.
When creatine first hit the shelves in the early 1990s, it quickly became the supplement of choice for athletes all over the world for its ergogenic effects. For that reason, it is one of the most highly researched supplements on the market.
Creatine is an amino acid that increases the body’s ability to produce energy rapidly. Ninety percent of it is found in the muscles. You can get it three ways: in animal foods, supplementation, or it can be produced in the liver and kidneys from amino acids.
Creatine is one of the most effective and safest supplements and taking it consistently and at the correct dosages will help combat fatigue during your workouts so you can work out longer and with more intensity. As a result, it will garner you faster physical results by improving your strength and increasing your lean muscle mass.
The benefits of creatine supplementation:
- Supports high intensity and explosive training.
- Increases muscular strength and power.
- Helps to volumize muscle and keep it hydrated.
- Increases the body’s ability to produce energy rapidly; increases work output by boosting and sustaining high ATP levels.
- Creatine will increase cellular energy (ATP) availability in muscle tissue and allows muscles to resist the onset of fatigue.
- Helps to build lean muscle mass by promoting muscle protein synthesis (MPS).
- Most creatines are micronized so it easily mixes into any liquid for fast absorption and it stays suspended in liquid longer.
- Stand alone creatines are unflavored and odorless with zero fillers and additives.
Recommended Dosing: Add 1 teaspoon (5g) of Creatine Powder with 8-12 oz of water or with your favorite beverage or post-workout protein shake either with a meal or immediately after training. Be sure to drink plenty of water when supplementing with creatine.
A common practice for taking creatine is to “load” it for four to seven days, and then begin a “maintenance” phase indefinitely. The idea is to initially super-saturate the muscle and then top it off during maintenance. We suggest taking 1 rounded teaspoon of Creatine Powder in the morning, afternoon, and evening during meals, and taking another teaspoon before going to bed for 4-5 days. At that point, you can reduce your intake to just 1 teaspoon per day.
Here are our favorites: Optimum Nutrition Micronized Creatine (Unflavored), Blonyx HMB+Creatine, and Rule1 Creatine (Unflavored)
- WHEY PROTEIN
There’s a reason why whey protein is a staple in the diets of fitness enthusiasts – it works! Even with a squeaky clean diet of lean proteins, leafy greens, and high-quality, vitamin-rich carbohydrates, whey protein will give you an edge that diet alone can’t give you.
Whey protein is a natural by-product of cheese production boasting numerous health and fitness benefits. Protein is essential in our diets to help us build and maintain muscle mass, manufacture hormones, enzymes, and immune-system components. Whey is ideal for anyone looking to increase muscle mass, strength, improve athletic performance, enhance their body composition, and improve their overall health. Due to its fast absorption time, whey protein is ideal for consuming pre-, intra-, or post-workout – a time when your muscles need fuel to heal and grow.
- Proven to increase lean muscle mass safely and quickly.
- Increases muscle strength.
- Rapid recovery from training for enhanced performance.
- Weight management; fight hunger.
- Immune and bone health, and general wellness.
- Absorbs quickly and easily, delivering a rich supply of essential amino acids to the body.
- Contains Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAA’s): important for stimulating muscle protein synthesis and maintaining lean muscle tissue following exercise to prevent muscle breakdown.
Recommended Dosing: Consume 20-30 grams of whey protein with 6-12 oz of water or with your favorite beverage preferably pre-, intra-, or post-workout. It is also a convenient way to increase your protein intake when whole foods are not available (i.e. traveling, quick snack). Aim to consume 1.0-1.5g of protein per pound of body weight per day. For example, a 200 pound male should consume 200-300g protein per day.
If you are lactose intolerant or tend to suffer from GI distress when consuming dairy, try a whey protein isolate (WPI). WPIs are made like whey concentrates; however, nonprotein components are removed, resulting in a powder that is ~90% pure protein and contains less than 1% of lactose.
- BRANCHED-CHAIN AMINO ACIDS
Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins and although there are 20 amino acids in the body, all with their own benefits, three of them in particular are referred to as branched-chain amino acids (BCAA): leucine, isoleucine, and valine. These are the key amino acids you need if you’re feeling sore after training sessions, are looking to increase lean muscle, need a boost of energy, and are looking to prevent muscle catabolism between meals and during long strenuous workouts.
Most people ingest BCAAs after they workout as recovery aid, but they are a supplement worth taking any time of day. If taken before exercise, they will slow down the rate of muscle fatigue. Intra- or post-workout they will help to prevent muscle damage, muscle soreness, and accelerate recovery.
BCAAs are chock full of benefits:
- L-Leucine: regulates skeletal muscle protein synthesis after exercise by activating a major complex in the anabolic pathway.
- L-Valine: helps stimulate the central nervous system, promotes growth, and helps to repair tissues.
- L-Isoleucine: helps increase endurance and helps heal, repair, and grow muscle tissue damaged from strenuous exercise or injury; boosts energy.
- Absorb quickly into the bloodstream; fast acting.
- Suppresses cortisol to combat fatigue.
- Helps to increase fat burning by increasing your metabolic rate.
- Protect your muscles against the catabolic effects of dieting.
Recommended Dosing: Mix 3-5 grams with 8-12 oz of cold water or mix in with your favorite protein powder. Consume upon waking, before, during, or after intense training sessions. You may also drink on your rest days to promote recovery. BCAAs tend to be bitter on their own, but you can find them in a ton of delicious tasting flavors.
- FISH OIL
Fish oil is an essential fatty acid that is naturally found in the tissues of oily fish like salmon, sardines, and anchovies. It is a rich source of essential long-chain fatty acids called Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). They are essential because they cannot be produced by the body; therefore, we must supplement it in our diets through whole foods or supplementation.
The health benefits of fish oil have been extensively researched for decades. Supplementing with a high quality fish oil promotes overall wellness and supports brain, heart, vision, and joint health.
Some key benefits to note are:
- Supports healthy heart function
- Help to normalize and regulate your cholesterol levels; lower serum triglycerides and improve HDL
- Promotes healthy circulation
- Supports joint function
- Protects your cells and promotes cell production
- Boosts your mood; powerful protect against depression
- Improves memory and cognition
- Supports healthy vision
- Powerful anti-inflammatory and pain reliever.
We recommend getting at least 1200mg of EPA/DHA per day.
- BETA ALANINE
Beta alanine is a non-essential amino acid that we get in our diets from protein rich foods; it can also be made in the liver or supplemented in our diets. Beta-alanine is transported via the blood from the liver to the muscle cells. There, it is combined with the amino acid Histidine to create Carnosine.
During short to mid-range high intensity training the pH levels in our muscles drop, which increases their acidity (lactic acid). This is characterized by the burning sensation and fatigue you may feel during intense exercise. Increasing intra-muscle carnosine buffers lactic acid build-up, slow down the onset of fatigue, and help you squeeze out a few extra reps or a few more meters from your short interval sprints.
The perks of beta-alanine supplementation:
- Increase power output when doing high intensity interval training
- Improves work capacity and sprint performance
- Increases the volume of training (number of reps), an athlete is capable of achieving during strength training (i.e. elevate endurance levels)
- Extends time to exhaustion when training at high intensity for short bouts (up to 5 mins)
- Combat the negative effects of lactic-acid
- Antioxidant benefits
- Works synergistically with creatine
Recommended Dosing: 2-6 grams per day, taken in smaller doses throughout the day to reduce the skin-tingling sensation.