While a clean, nutritious diet and a balanced workout schedule are the two most important things when it comes to maintaining a healthy physique, certain supplements are crucial in helping you achieve and maintain that physique as well
There are a lot of cheap supplements out there claiming who knows what and containing who knows what. My advice? STAY AWAY! If it sounds too good to be true, IT IS.
So, I have created a list of supplements that I would recommend to anyone who is looking to achieve the results they deserve from working hard in the gym.
1. L- Glutamine
Glutamine is one of the 11 nonessential amino acids (meaning the body can produce it on its own). During times of stress, the glutamine reserves in your body are used up, leaving less and less reserved in the body’s skeletal muscle, lung, brain and liver. This loss can come from emotional stress, physical stress (a cold, surgery, sickness) AND exercise!
After exercise, your body is in a state of stress and your glutamine levels can drop as low as 50%. By taking a glutamine supplement post workout, you can prevent your muscles from going into a catabolic state and enhance muscle growth, increase levels of growth hormone (muscle building hormone) while increasing your immune system, mental performance and memory.
2. Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAAS)
The three BCAA’s are leucine, isoleucine and valine. These are important in keeping a positive nitrogen balance in the body. When there is a positive nitrogen balance, muscle grown can occur. BCAA’s increase endurance, prevent fatigue, improve mental performance and raise energy levels. It is recommend to take them before and after a workout (preferably on an empty stomach).
3. Whey Protein
I have discussed my favourite protein powders before, but I have not talked in depth about the importance of whey protein powder. Whey helps you build muscle, improve performance, ward off disease, enhance cardiovascular function and is shown to have anti-aging effects. Whey protein is also extremely high in biological value (BV), which is a measure of how much protein is used and absorbed by the body (meaning the protein in whey is absorbed and used up very efficiently). Whey has also been proven to reduce levels of cortisol in the body. Cortisol is responsible for fat storage and is released under times of physical and emotional stress (i.e. exercise!). Drink some whey post workout!
If you are serious about making strength gains then I recommend taking creatine. I personally have not used it before, but the benefits of it are unquestionable. Creatine supplements have been proven to improve strength performance during short-duration, high-intensity activities (weight lifting!). It allows you to perform longer sets and put in more force meaning you can make easier strength gains and build muscle more efficiently. Essentially, if you are serious about increasing your performance in the gym, then creatine is for you!
…and of course, don’t forget your daily multi-vitamins and fish oil pills!