One of the common questions we are asked as trainers is regarding supplements. Which supplements work? What supplement is right for me and my goals? There are so many options and so many claims, it can be easy to be confused as a consumer. Many supplements state “clinically proven” or “scientifically researched” but this may be misleading. The experiment may have been set up in favorable conditions in order to make the supplement seem more effective than it is.
We need to be careful with such claims, and at the same time realize that there are some supplements with lots of scientific backing and research. A supplements purpose is to supplement deficiencies in a human body or in a diet, (both are usually correlated).
This article will look at the most researched, studied and proven supplements that may work for you.
At the end of the day, finding something that makes you feel good and that works for you is the most important thing. Nobody can question the power of the mind and if you truly believe in something and it has no adverse side effects, by all means continue to take it.
Also to remember, a well balanced diet can eliminate the need for most supplementations. If you are finding it hard to get certain proteins, fats, minerals or vitamins, supplements may be the answer for you. Always consult a doctor or professional before changes to your diet.
Number 1: Whey Protein
This is the most popular selling supplement product on the market and with good reason. Most people are looking to get stronger or gain muscle when working out and one of the key ingredients to help with that goal is a high quality protein. WHEY is perfect for this as it offers all the essential amino acids and has enough Leucine to promote muscle protein synthesis. Some other “natural” protein powders from rice or peas may lack the amount of amino acids that Whey protein offers. Whey protein can also be found in gluten free options. Whey is derived from milk but can also be found in non lactate options which may be ok for people on dairy free diets. Regardless of this, some peoples stomachs may not agree with whey protein and a pea or rice protein supplement may be a better option.
Whey protein is very cost effective per serving and will help you reach your protein intake goals for the day. Any supplement should not be solely relied on and should be combined with a very balanced diet consisting of lots of different sources of proteins, carbs, fats, minerals and vitamins.
Whey is a great supplement but is nothing essentially special as it can be easily found in natural foods. The positives about a whey supplement are that it is very convenient and can be taken quickly to reach your daily protein goals. It can also be added in conjunction with meals such as oats which are hard to supplement with any real food sourced proteins.
Whey protein may work for you if you are struggling to reach your protein goals for the day. It is also a great quick snack when on the go instead of unhealthy options high in carbs or fat.
Number 2: Omega 3
Omega 3 is an essential fatty acid that is found in dietary form as oily fish. As a supplement is usually found is a fish oil form or liquid pill form. There are two types of omega 3 found in fish oils: EPA and DHA which are very important for the human body.
It plays an important role controlling inflammatory response, supporting the immune system, cellular signalling and cellular structural properties, reduce triglycerides, slows development of plaque and many more. It is for these reasons, that athletic performance and omega-3’s are linked.
Much like protein supplements, omega-3’s can easily be eaten through a balanced whole food diet, but if you are struggling to eat enough fish, an omega-3 supplement may be a great option for you.
Number 3: Creatine
Our third supplement is very famous and also backed by a lot of science. There are different forms of creatine, but the most widely researched, effective, and used is creatine monohydrate. Creatine provides fuel for muscles during high intensity powerful movements, which can increase the duration or power of those certain movements.
Research consistently shows that creatine benefits muscle strength and size when training is appropriately executed. Some people may not respond to creatine supplementation if their creatine levels are already high or due to lack of muscle size for enough creatine to be stored to have any significant results.
Creatine is recommended for those who are really looking to increase strength and muscular size and who are lacking creatin in their diet. Some people have reported to feel bloated or feel like they are retaining water when taking creatine.
Number 4: Vitamin D
Vitamin D is another supplement that under the right conditions, is not necessarliy needed. For those of us living in Vancouver, BC, we have an extreme lack of sun and Vitamin D is highly recomennded. Many studies show that most people are deficient and lack vitamin D.
Vitamin D is essential for many funtions in the body, including normal hormone function, immun function and bone formation and maintenance. This can all help supplement working out and increase your over well being.
Supplementation is highly recomended during fall and winter months or if you are unable to get outside much. A great product is cod liver fish oil, which may sound disgusting but is a great natural source of essential fats, omega 3’s and vitamin D.
Number 5: Caffeine
Caffeine might be the most famous and used drug in the world. Caffeine has been tested countless times and proven to reduce fatigue temporarily, boost performance and also has minor short-term weight loss effects.
Caffeine gains these benefits by stimulating the release of adrenaline which can definitely improve athletic performance, which can lead to better results over time.
Caffeine is also found in many pre-workouts and is the main ingredient surrounded by many other performance enhancing ingredients such as beta-alanine, carnatine and more.
People should be careful with caffeine as it may overstimulate teh adrenal system wchich can lead to your body being over stimulated and adrenal fatigue. This can produce heightened cortisol levels which is bad for performance, sleep and function. Caffeine may not be the answer for you, but it is one of the most backed and proven supplements on the market. Consult a health professional to determine what is right for you.