If money wasn’t a factor, let’s face it, most of us would have free reign to buy things we want with little thought as to how much we’re spending. This is especially true of health and fitness items, which often get left to the wayside when money is a factor in our lives (which is most of the time for many of us). If only it were so straightforward, so cut and dry, that we could pick and choose the health products of our choice without batting an eye at the price tag, so it can be a challenge finding supplements to match our individual budgets.
Luckily there are some staple health and fitness supplements that don’t have to break the bank, we just need to prioritize and figure out which ones are the best/most necessary for an optimal fitness regimen and work that around our finances. For women with a mid-range budget, this allows for a little wiggle room and perhaps a couple extras to build up the workout supplement base. It’ll make use of the essentials to ensure you get everything you can out of your healthiest life yet, and then allow for a little extra something-something to help add to the long-term success of a fitness regimen.
So, how do we decide what the essentials are? Well, if we opt for those products and supplements that are backed by strong scientific research and data, those are always going to be the best option as their track record of results will speak volumes in any research. So, perhaps a little compromising will play a role in determining what supplements will feature in our cupboards, but that doesn’t mean compromising on quality, merely on convenience. Sure, those supplements that come chock-full with every single component you could possibly want or need are on the market – with a high price tag of course, so as much as possible, keep with the basics and build up your fitness frontier from there, yourself! There’s also a sense of accomplishment in doing things from scratch, so it’s a win-win.
Where to start?
Let’s start with the basics of what’s needed and add on from there.
Creatine – This is a compound which produced in small amounts naturally within the body. It is also found in meat and fish products. When partaking in high intensity activity, creatine is thought to play a major role in releasing energy to enhance muscle performance. This means we’re able to go longer and harder, all whilst creatine helps provide ATP (adenosine triphosphate) to our cells so that our muscles maintain energy levels for a more sustained period of time. Also helping to reduce fatigue and increase endurance, this is one supplement that shouldn’t be missed off the list of bare necessities if we want to see gains that don’t hit the wallet hard.
Whey Protein – This supplement is the backbone of a basic workout regimen. It is one of two proteins comprising milk and more importantly, it digests quickly releasing the branched chain amino acids contained within it, and these guys are crucial to muscle growth. Whether for the sake of growing your muscles or maintaining them, whey is a great supplement if only just for it’s ability to help you recover, post workout.
Vitamin D3 – This fat-soluble vitamin is synthesized when we’re in the presence of sunshine. With increasing amounts of time being spent indoors rather than out, it can be easy to become deficient in this vitamin, so providing the body with an outside source of vitamin D will help keep you healthy. Additionally, it aids in keeping your immune system functioning on top form as well as helping with calcium absorption for the purpose of maintaining strong and healthy bones (which themselves can be put under stress during strenuous or weight bearing exercises), so this is definitely a must in a basic supplement list.
Beta Alanine – This amino acid helps to top up our stores of carnosine, which in turn helps to reduce fatigue and increase endurance, performance and muscle growth. So, if increased muscle mass is what you’re aiming for, this supplement can definitely help, after all, more muscle means more calories burned.
Multivitamin – Now whether or not your diet is well-rounded, a multivitamin can help boost and/or maintain your health. If you consume the same foods pretty much daily, how are you to know whether or not you’re getting every nutrient your body needs, in the quantity it requires? Taking a multivitamin ensures that if you come up short in your diet, the supplement will help fill in the gap. As intense exercise increases micronutrient needs, it is of prime importance that we get the goods into our body.
Caffeine – This natural molecule can be found in both coffee and tea and it’s purpose seems to be to stimulate alertness and hinder fatigue. Given that this is the case, it’s a rather popular component in many pre-workout supplements. It is shown to improve and increase power output, enhance endurance during long-lasting exercise as well as those exercises which are intermittent. Each person responds differently to caffeine and while a good alertness enhancer, it can cause restlessness and short-term increases in blood pressure so consulting with your primary care physician before taking caffeine as a pre-workout supplement is a prudent thing to do.
BCAA – Your good old branched chain amino acids! Comprised of 3 important amino acids – leucine, isoleucine and valine – these guys promote muscle building capabilities as well as increasing a person’s ability to perform for longer (which is great for runners wanting to improve their time, for example). In addition, it is believed that BCAA’s might help to reduce mental and physical fatigue and lets face it, when you go long and hard, your body and mind can take a bit of strain so these are a great inclusion in your supplement cupboard for sure.
Whether for muscle gains or just to maintain, supplements will help you reach your goals. Financial constraints needn’t completely eliminate your ability to provide your body with the extra little bit that can boost your performance and in turn, your rewards, all you have to do is work within your budget and build up to what your wallet allows.