Getting in shape is about a lot more than not skipping leg day. Everything you do to your body affects how it performs, and thus how effective it is at building muscle, losing fat, and keeping you in prime performance condition. The market is flooded with products that make claims of varying veracity about how much more effective they can make your workout, all of which have drawbacks as well, and many of which are outfitted with needless ingredients that are doing nothing for you.
To really prime your pump, you should be aware of exactly what supplements do for your body so that you can more aptly judge nutrition labels and get the right fuel for your flesh. You need to be taking in the proper nutrients at the proper times so that your body can turn protein into mass, or breakdown those carbs for energy instead of letting them turn to flab. A serious gym rat or aspiring body builder – or anyone who wants to look good with their shirt off – should be part dietitian, part personal trainer, part apothecary, part sports medicine doctor. Or, you could trust those people and put the 10 best workout supplements into your body.
Before you start grabbing anything and everything out of the local GNC, looking over this piece on nutrition and working out is a quality primer on how to eat for maximum effect.
Make Note: It’s your body, so consult a physician before you decide to put anything into it that could alter how it functions. Also, stick to recommended serving sizes.
Before Taking Supplements
A fit body begins with a fit lifestyle, which means that you want to begin by minimizing what you’re taking in. That means you should have a well-established nutritional program in place to handle your eating habits. If there’s problems with what you eat, all the magical supplements in the world aren’t going to fix it. You could also end up masking a food issue with a supplement issue, or the other way around, and do more harm than good.
So, start with an eating program that is basic and fulfilling. Among both physicians and weight-loss professionals, The Dash Diet comes highly recommended for both losing weight and getting a healthier heart. Beginning there may provide most of the nutrients you need, and then you can decide if and when supplements are right for your body.
Men’s Health did a superb breakdown of the role that supplements play in a diet and exercise program. They also discussed how important supplements actually are. Arm yourself with that info before you start getting jacked.
The list is organized from most to least important, in general. The items at the top should be in almost every diet, while those further down can usually be replaced by alterations in food intake, making the supplement superfluous.
A multivitamin is one of the few supplements around that can be beneficial to everyone. While most of the overpriced holistic offerings that you’ll find don’t actually give you anything you’re truly missing, a multivitamin has required minerals you need on a daily basis and it supports your baseline nutrition. Everyone should work one into their regiment, and custom-tailor it to their particular body. Get something that will give you all your daily values, but doesn’t have too many excesses, since anything on the nutrition label offering more than 100% of what you need is usually going out with your waste materials.
Reduces body fat and inflammation, helps maintain hormonal health, Omega 3 fatty acids to help with cognitive mental health and facilitate heart operation, smoothing out the process of cardiovascular activity and helping streamline each workout; fish oil is another supplement that should practically be added to the water supply, since it’s so full of things that the body requires.
If you aren’t aware, you get this largely from sunlight, though there’s some to be had in milk as well. Important for helping to synthesize calcium and create strong bones and teeth, as well as maintain them for as long as you stay bumming around this mortal coil, you need Vitamin D. The good news is that this doesn’t mean much more than taking a walk with your sleeves rolled up and letting that sweet sun soak you for about 15 minutes. Exposure to sunlight will also help with many mood disorders, making you more likely to exercise, which is also better for your body.
A vegetable substitute, unless you’re really swinging for the fences odds are that you aren’t quite hitting the 8 to 10 vegetable servings per day. That’s where this basic supplement can help you out. Built to regulate digestion and provide some of the plant-based nutrients that we’re supposed to have built into our diet, a green powder reduces the risk of diabetes, cancer, stroke, and will even make your tummy less inclined to take umbrage should you suddenly drop a Del Taco bomb into it.
Branched Chain Amino Acids have been shown to both stop muscles from being broken down during the act of working out, and they are then in turn built back up bigger and stronger when you use BCAAs. This dual action makes it appropriate both for anaerobic exercises where size is the goal, and for endurance, where lean muscle and stamina come into play. Largely thought to be a super serum for muscle growth, taken at the right time, these can make a huge difference in how effective each gym session is.
Helping your muscles get bigger and stronger, using whey along with a strength-training regiment will give you more muscle mass and improve bloodflow to your muscles to deliver more nutrients and oxygen, which in turn facilitates the exercise process. Those looking to stay lean don’t necessarily need this, though having some for when you’re seeking bulk is never a bad notion.
Creatine is an energy booster that is manufactured naturally in the body at a very slow rate, and likewise broken down rapidly, so you’re never carrying much around at any given time. It’s an amino acid made of arginine, glycine, and methionine, so taking it in supplement form gives you more spare energy to burn to keep your workout going longer for another set, some heavier reps, or pushing through that last mile.
Carnosine or Beta-alanine
Muscles require the amino acid Carnosine to enhance their size, mass, and power. To get Carnosine, you need Beta-alanine to mix with the histine in the body, giving you energy and effectiveness with endurance to go the distance.
A bodybuilder catch-all, Glutamine increases leucine in muscle fibers for greater size, bolsters immunities, and limits muscle fatigue during actual pumping sessions.
Our bodies are regulated by the chemicals inside us, and when we exercise, we burn away some of those reserves, leaving us depleted. Most notably, athletes who tend to have larger muscle masses also tend to be deficient in zinc, magnesium, and aspartate along with vitamin B6. These are necessary for regulating sleep and recovery, as well as muscle recovery, so if you have more mass, you’ll probably need this to help make your restful time productive for your muscles.