Are you looking to take your health and fitness efforts to the next level? If you’ve been dedicating a ton of time to your diet and exercise, you might be starting to wonder what’s next… What else can you do to see an even greater return on your investment? If you’ve reached this point, you’ll probably want to consider incorporating supplements into your lifestyle.
There are literally thousands of products on the market, some claiming to do amazing things, so there’s no question you have options. Unfortunately, the supplement industry is riddled with tons of gimmicks that usually end up amounting to nothing more than an epic waste of money.
To help you sort through the clutter and focus on the supplements that will actually give you the greatest payoff, I’ve developed this list of products that I highly recommend. I also happen to use these all of these products myself. I believe that each one has the potential to offer awesome benefits and should potentially be a regular part of your diet and exercise plan. Choose the ones that work best for your goals and budget.
Whey Protein Powder Supplements
The first thing I recommend that you add to your diet is a high quality whey protein powder. Not only is whey relatively inexpensive, it’s specially formulated to be easily digested and rapidly absorbed by the body, making it ideal for pre- and post-workout periods.
Whey protein also helps to speed up the recovery process and ensure you can get back into the gym with less downtime. Furthermore, whey protein is also highly convenient, so it’s ideal for traveling. Just toss a scoop or two in your shaker, add water and enjoy. Pre-mixed whey also requires no refrigeration, although I think it tastes better chilled.
Casein Protein Powder Supplements
In addition to a high quality whey, I also like to keep casein protein powder on hand. While whey is formulated to be rapidly digesting, the opposite is true for casein. Casein is very slow digesting, which helps provide a steady stream of amino acids to your muscles over time. This slow-absorption feature of casein makes it ideal for a morning meal and/or a late-night snack. Casein is awesome for helping you meet your daily protein needs while ensuring you don’t transition into a catabolic state during the day or while you sleep.
I personally use casein first thing in the morning and before bedtime. Per serving, casein is slightly more expensive than whey, but I believe the benefits are worth the extra cost.
In a perfect world, you would be getting 100% of your body’s daily nutritional requirements from whole foods. Unfortunately, with our increasingly busy lifestyles and occasional go-go-go mentality, it’s sometimes difficult to get every vitamin and mineral your body needs everyday. This is especially true for anyone who is actively working out and cutting calories. Having a daily multi-vitamin on hand will help ensure your body’s dietary needs are consistently met, while giving you peace of mind in knowing that you aren’t suffering from a deficiency.
Lately, the effectiveness of multivitamins have been intensely debated. Most experts think that the average individual doesn’t need to supplement with a multivitamin, while other experts disagree. Personally, I like to cover all my bases, so I take a one-a-day multivitamin everyday, just in case.
Vitamin D Supplements
In addition to a quality multivitamin, you might also want to consider supplementing with vitamin D. For many individuals, vitamin D is somewhat difficult to consume in adequate doses because it’s rarely found in foods. Another way to obtain vitamin D is through direct exposure to sunlight.; however, for people working in offices during the day, getting enough sunlight to offset the body’s need for vitamin D can sometime be a challenge; therefore, I generally recommend adding this basic vitamin to a typical diet.
Not only is vitamin D important for keeping your bones healthy and strong, it’s great for optimizing testosterone levels, enhancing muscle strength, promoting a lean body composition, keeping your heart healthy, and regulating blood sugar levels. As you can see, vitamin D is a powerhouse so you won’t want to miss out on its numerous benefits. Consuming anywhere from 2,000 to 5,000 IUs of vitamin D per day is generally recommended for most healthy individuals.
Fish Oil Supplements
Fish oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which many individuals are lacking in their diets. Omega-3s are important for a number of reasons, including promoting healthier brain and heart function, increasing insulin sensitivity, strengthening the immune system, and helping maintain a leaner body composition. Fish oil supplements typically come in capsules, so is highly convenient.
Fish oil supplements vary in terms of quality across the different brands that produce it. When shopping for fish oils, try to look for how many milligrams of EPA and DHA omega-3s are in each serving. The better quality fish oil supplements will have a minimum of 2 grams of EPA and DHA omega 3s.
Glutamine is an essential amino acid that’s important for individuals who are regularly training hard. Glutamine plays a huge role in the overall strength of your body’s immune system; therefore, supplementing can help you fight off illnesses that might otherwise derail your progress.
Additionally, supplementing with glutamine after a workout, as well as right before bedtime, can help accelerate your body’s ability to recover, allowing you to train more frequently than you normally could.
Potassium is a mineral that is often found in fresh fruits and vegetables. However, those who are regularly engaging in intense physical activity may need higher levels in their diet.
Potassium is important for maintaining adequate blood pressure levels and promoting optimal kidney health. Potassium is an electrolyte in the body, so it’s often lost when sweating. Adding salt-free potassium supplements to your diet is a great way to make up for any deficiencies.
Your body, however, needs a delicate balance of potassium to help the heart and other muscles function properly. Too much potassium can lead to dangerous, and possibly deadly, changes in heart rhythm.
Spirulina is a superfood that many people neglect to supplement with, mostly because they’re unaware of its numerous health benefits. Spirulina is a plant form of blue-green algae that acts as a source of protein, which further helps ensure your daily needs met. In addition, Spirulina works for strengthening the body’s immune system, reducing the frequency and severity of colds and flus.
Spirulina has also been known to help regulate blood pressure and cholesterol levels, so it could help promote optimal cardiovascular health. Spirulina may also offer some level of anti-cancer protection, so it’s sometimes recommended for individuals looking to prevent this type of illness. Using spirulina on a regular basis can also help detoxify your body, so it can help you look and feel your best.
CLA is a fatty acid. CLA stands for conjugated linoleic acid and is another supplement I recommend adding to your diet, especially if avoid consuming red meat and dairy, and are concerned about long-term weight management. By using CLA on a regular basis, you can further help support the development of lean muscle mass, encourage increased fat oxidation rates in the body, and help improve your rate of recovery between workouts.
CLA is often found in many fat burning products on the market because of its ability to boost the level of fat utilization within the body. While CLA is naturally found in meat and some dairy sources, most people are unable to consume enough of either to get the full benefits.
NAC, which stands for N-Acetyl Cysteine, is another great supplement to have in your arsenal. NAC offers powerful antioxidant effects, which works to combat damage from free radicals. Using NAC on a regular basis can also help support healthy organs, ensuring your body is in top working condition. NAC is also highly recommended for individuals who are constantly overloading their bodies with heavy weight training.
Green Tea Extract Supplements
Over the years, research has demonstrated countless benefits associated with consuming green tea. Not only is green tea loaded with antioxidants, but it can have a positive influence on your resting metabolic rate, which can help promote healthy weight loss.
If you aren’t a fan of drinking green tea, or if it’s too inconvenient, supplementing with capsules of green tea extract can provide similar benefits.
Biotin, otherwise known as vitamin H or B7, is a water-soluble vitamin that is produced by the body and obtained from foods or supplements. Biotin helps increase energy levels and accelerate the rate in which your body burns fat.
In addition, biotin is useful for strengthening hair and nails, improving the overall health of your skin, and even lowering cholesterol. Biotin has been shown to help with digestion, ensuring that your body is utilizing food properly and fully absorbing its nutrients.
You’ll naturally be exposed to adequate amounts of biotin when consuming foods like oatmeal, peanuts, mushrooms, egg yolks, spinach, chicken, beef, and nuts, so supplementing with biotin isn’t entirely necessary. However, if you want to ensure you’re seeing maximum benefits, biotin supplements are something you might want to consider.
If your goal is to improve your performance in the gym, creatine is one of the best products currently available. Creatine is a staple of modern bodybuilding. Furthermore, creatine has been available in supplement form for decades, and has been studied just as long. Its benefits have been proven time and time again.
Creatine is the precursor to the high energy molecule called ATP, which fuels every muscular contraction within the body. When your muscular levels of creatine phosphate are depleted, ATP production will cease and your workout intensity will likely suffer a dramatic decline. Individuals who supplement with creatine report noticing increases in muscular strength and endurance, so it’s great for a wide variety of training.
For best results, creatine should be consumed just before or after a workout. Although not entirely necessary, it’s fairly common for individuals to incorporate a creatine “loading phase” of 20 grams per day for five days, followed by “maintenance” doses of five grams per day thereafter.
Many individuals are under the impression that consuming creatine will naturally cause muscles to build faster. Unfortunately, it’s not quite this easy. Instead, creatine simply allows you to work harder and longer, which can result in an increase in strength and power over the long term. In any case, creatine is highly recommended for anyone looking to maximize the benefits seen from their time spent working out.
Beta Alanine Supplements
Beta Alanine is another supplement worth incorporating into your diet. Beta alanine is an amino acid that commonly produces more energy in the body, which can significantly enhance performance. Individuals who consume beta alanine often report being able to tolerate more work during each session, and experience greater performance during high intensity or explosive exercises.
In addition, beta alanine can help buffer the buildup of lactic acid in muscles that occurs as a result of strenuous weight training. This buffering ability of beta alanine can delay the onset of fatigue, which might help you power through the last part of your workout. For added protection against fatigue, beta alanine can be stacked with creatine before exercise.
For individuals looking to accelerate fat loss, caffeine is another supplement you might want to consider. Caffeine can help increase resting metabolic rate and ensure your body continues to burn calories at an elevated rate over an extended period of time. As an added bonus, caffeine also increases energy. Since energy levels can sometimes decline while on a low-calorie diet, caffeine can help offset this side effect by providing you with an extra boost. Additionally, caffeine can help reduce appetite, providing you with better control over your diet.
If fat burning is one of your health and fitness goals, you might want to consider supplementing with yohimbine. Yohimbine may help to target stubborn fat stores in the body, including the areas around the lower abdominal region, or the lower body in women. Yohimbine does this by increasing activity in the sympathetic nervous system, which ultimately enhances blood flow to these problem areas and increases the level of fatty acid oxidation occurring within the body.
While it’s not entirely necessary to supplement with all of these products at once, you may want to consider giving a few of them a try, especially if you’re looking to maximize your time spent on diet and exercise. Depending on your particular goals, you may experience some pretty incredible benefits by adding these to your lifestyle. Be careful, however. Only take supplements as directed. Although some are “natural,” too much of a good thing sometimes isn’t good.