Not everyone has the budget to spend an endless amount of money on supplements that are more often than not useless. That is the reason why we need to filter out the garbage and pick the ones that will be the most effective and necessary for your specific fitness goals.
You can’t expect to get the same supplements everyone else does and reach Olympic-level performance.
If you are looking to lose weight, then some off-the-shelf fat burner won’t be the be-all, end-all. The same goes for creatine if increasing strength is your goal or beta alanine if you are frequently training using high-intensity day in and day out.
First, you need to define your training goal as specifically as possible before you start considering what supplements you should take.
Besides, supplements are made with various quality and cannot be used for the same purpose. When you have defined your goals and examined the purpose of each supplement, you can then start making proper supplement combinations. Some of them have more than one purpose, but the majority of supplements have specific ones.
In this article, we take a closer look at the four most commonly used supplements to help you get optimal results faster and look better in the mirror.
Creatine is a substance that is naturally found in our bodies in small quantities and plays a vital role in our bodies’ energy system used as a fuel for workout sessions with high intensity and explosive exercises. Creatine has always been a staple supplement in various sports. It helps you build muscle, it improves strength performance and the capacity to endure longer workouts. It’s also been proven numerous times to be completely safe.
Anyone who is interested in improving their high-intensity explosive performance like sprinting, strength, power and getting lean muscle mass should start using it.
We can safely say that it is the number one supplement for building strength and muscle. It’s also been proven to be extremely effective in enhancing endurance and delaying fatigue under extreme exercise stress.
On the other hand, creatine wouldn’t be of much help for those whose training regimen consists of cycling, running or any other type of aerobic activity.
When it comes to dosing creatine, some people would like to implement dosing phases, known as a loading phase and maintenance phase. The loading phase has you taking 20 grams of creatine for 5 days after which you proceed to the maintenance phase of 5 grams per day.
This strategy purportedly saturates your skeletal muscles with creatine and enables elevated levels of creatine in your muscles to be maintained for a longer period of time.
Caffeine is a powerful stimulant of the nervous system having an effect similar to the ones related to amphetamines, albeit weaker. It is one of a small number of stimulants that have performance benefits for both aerobic and anaerobic sports, as well having the ability to boost your metabolism.
Caffeine also has the psychological effect of lowering the feeling of fatigue during intense exercise. This effect makes hard and intense exercising look much easier. It also increases endurance, which makes it an excellent supplement choice for those that love running or cycling.
Research has so far been indecisive in regards to how caffeine impacts power or sprinting performance, with some of the studies indicating that there are some benefits and others indicating no benefits at all.
Caffeine is very effective for long-lasting, high-intensity workout sessions including sports like field hockey, soccer, rowing and many others, however, it specifically works for already conditioned athletes. And lastly, it has the effect of spiking the metabolic rate while you are on a cutting diet.
When it comes to dosing, 200-300 mg per day is the most commonly used dose, with some people more tolerant to it, and some not. When it comes to training, it’s best that you consume caffeine half an hour to an hour before workout.
Beta-alanine is a compound that is combined with the amino acid histidine to create carnosine. Beta-alanine alone is very limited in regards to improving physical performance.
But, since levels of carnosine in the muscles are limited by the concentration of beta-alanine, beta-alanine is vital to the performance improving properties of carnosine.
Beta-alanine should be primarily used by those who are frequently training with high intensity. Anyone who uses high intensity and explosiveness exercises lasting 1-4 minutes is very likely to get the benefits of beta-alanine supplementation.
Those training using high-intensity explosive movements that last less than a minute, ( think strength training ) where maximal strength is the goal or lean muscle mass are not likely to see much benefits from beta-alanine.
Dosage should be around 6 grams per day, divided into four doses of 1.5 grams.
4. Fish oil
Fish oil has two essential fatty acids, EPA(eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA(docosahexaenoic acid). These fatty acids are essential since they cannot be created by the body itself and must be ingested via your diet. DHA and EPA are also known as omega-3 fatty acids and are the main beneficial components when it comes to supplementing with fish oil.
Early studies have not shown any indication that fish oil can increase physical performance in any way. However, several newer studies have shown that supplementing with DHA and EPA can aid in improving body composition and protein synthesis.
It’s also been shown that they are able to potentially reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, which means that if your goals are to improve overall health and increase lean muscle mass you need to start supplementing with fish oil.
Dosages range from 1-4 grams per day, thus ensuring you consume at least 500 mg per day of DHA and EPA combination.