Just started working out and trying to figure out which supplements you should be taking? A seasoned workout veteran and trying to enhance your results? Or are you just someone looking to stay as healthy as possible. Good news for you. You found the right place to find out what you should be taking and what you shouldn’t be taking.
Supplements play a very small role in the grand scheme of things in terms of results. I hate to be the bearer of bad news but if your workout plan is bad you will get better results from just switching your workout as a whole to something superior than taking a supplement. For example, a leg extension machine vs a squat. If you switch from doing a leg extension to a squat you are going to see way better muscle building results than staying with a leg extension and taking BCAAs There are several steps you need to be looking at before you ever consider taking a fat burner or BCAA’s.
The first place I always look at is your workout plan. Are you doing a workout program that includes the big five exercises (squat, deadlift, chest press, row, and overhead press). Are you doing full body routines or body part splits? Your body only sends a muscle building signal for 24-48 hours. So you stop building muscle in your chest 2 days after chest day. So you go 5 days without sending that signal. Switch to a full body routine with the big five exercises.
Sleep. Sleep is probably the single most important supplement you can do for yourself. It is the body’s natural way to heal and repair itself. Why do you think you feel better after a solid night of 8 hour sleep? It’s because your body just reset itself. Get that sleep. It will help with every aspect of your life.
Diet. You can get every nutrient you need through eating whole natural foods. You would never have to take a vitamin, mineral, or supplement as a whole. Let’s be real. This is way easier said than done. I am not going to sit here and act like I eat all whole natural foods for every meal. I like to eat ice cream and pizza just like the rest of you. With that being said, those foods are not my primary food sources. My diet primarily consists of the whole natural foods and those processed foods are sprinkled in my diet here and there.
Vitamins and minerals. This is going to be my first supplementation recommendation. Don’t just skip to this step. Your workout plan, sleep, and diet should take precedent. If you have those things in line this is when you move to this phase. If you are deficient in a nutrient even after the above 3 paragraphs then this is when you would want to go and get this nutrient and start taking it on a regular basis. I take a vitamin D supplement because I live in the midwest where it’s crappy weather for a third of the year. I don’t recommend a multivitamin because you’re probably not deficient in all those vitamins and minerals. Take a test and find out what you are lacking and add that into what you’re doing. It could make a world of difference on how your body feels.
Creatine. The scary supplement that everyone thought was a version of steroids when they were high school. Creatine is in all meat products. So this is one you could naturally get enough from just consuming whole natural foods. But I am not here to tell you about the muscle building effects. Creatine is one of the most studied supplements on the market. It has shown to help with memory, help fight diabetes, reduce fatigue, and more. Building muscle is just a nice side effect.
Last on my list is protein powder. Why? Most people can’t eat enough protein in a day through whole natural foods. If you have to consume 150 grams of protein a day. That is the equivalent of eating six to seven 4oz pieces of any meat product a day. Protein powder is an easy way to hit your protein goals especially if you are 30 grams short at the end of the day. If your protein goal is under 100 grams there should be no reason to take a powder. You should only use protein powder if you can’t get enough protein through whole natural foods.
If you are buying and taking anything else outside of this list, you are more than likely wasting your money. I don’t even recommend pre-workouts. Drink some coffee or take a caffeine pill if you need a boost, it’s cheaper too. Now there are exceptions to everything. A lot of supplementation should be based around your goals. This advice is a good general rule for those trying to lose weight and build muscle. If your goal is to run an ironman triathlon, you are going to fall into a completely different category.
Start working on your workout plan, sleep, and diet. Get those in line. Once you have those things down, that’s when you will want to start supplementing. Those are the supplements you should be taking.
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