When it comes to supplementation, it can get very confusing. What supplements you take all depends on your health and fitness goals and what results you are looking for. In this article I will list the supplements that you should be taking each day for health, and which ones I recommend taking when it comes to losing fat or gaining muscle. First I will start with the basics – which 3 supplements you should be taking on a daily basis for good health.
Many of us do not receive enough vitamins and minerals through diet alone, hence why a multivitamin is recommended. Many things can interfere and affect nutrients in the body such as antibiotics, aspirin, oral contraceptives, dieting, alcohol and obesity. Taking a multivitamin will reassure you that you are getting the vitamins and minerals that your body needs for adequate function.
I highly recommend probiotics. When you start a new exercise program, especially if you are excessively exercising,
you can notice a decrease in your immunity. This is related to the hormone ‘cortisol’ – if you are exercising
excessively, it causes cortisol to be released which lowers your immunity. This is why I recommend probiotics.
Probiotics have many health benefits such as strengthening your immune system, treating infections, decreasing the
severity of colds and flu and treating inflammation. If you notice you are getting sick a lot, it may be a signal to cut
back on the exercise and/or start taking probiotics.
3. Fish Oil
Fish oil has been associated with many health benefits including reducing inflammation and improving heart health.
Research has shown that fish oil combined with regular aerobic exercise enhances fat loss. This is because fish oil
enhances the production of leptin, leptin increases your metabolic rate and reduces your appetite. It also increases
insulin sensitivity causing your body to release less insulin and less insulin in the blood means more fat is lost.
Take 4-6g of fish oil daily. Studies have also shown that taking fish oil tables 30 minutes before a workout can increase fat burn.
If you are lifting weights and/or looking to increase muscle mass or decrease your overall body fat, then I recommend the following supplements:
1. Casein Protein
Casein is a slow digesting protein powder which is best taken at night before you go to bed. This will give your muscles a steady supply of protein for up to 7 hours so they can continue repairing and recovering overnight while you sleep. This also comes in handy if you prefer to exercise in a fasted state as you will probably find that you don’t ‘burn out’ as fast. You can find my casein dessert recipe here. The casein powder I use is Optimum Nutrition 100% Casein (I always order the natural version when I can as it has no artificial sweeteners or flavors).
2. Whey Protein Isolate (WPI)
I highly suggest using whey protein isolate, especially if you are doing strength training. The reason for this is that most
people do not get enough protein through their diet alone, and protein is crucial to help repair your muscles and
prevent muscle loss, especially if you are exercising. Since whey protein isolate is quickly absorbed, the best time to
have it is immediately after a workout, along with a serving of carbohydrates – like a piece of fruit. When looking for a protein powder you want to look for one that is low in sugar/carbs, fat and sodium, high in protein with less than 7-10 ingredients listed on the tin. The protein powder I use is Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey (I always order the natural version when I can as it has no artificial sweeteners or flavours)
3. BCAA’s (branched chain amino acids)
BCAAs contain three out of the eight essential amino acids our body needs to make muscle: leucine, valine and isoleucine. These three amino acids are metabolised in the muscle rather than the liver and are then broken down and used to build new protein or as fuel. BCAAs are concidered to be one of the most effective supplements for those looking to build muscle as without adequate amounts, muscle cells won’t recover or grow. They are great for anyone who wants to preserve or build lean muscle while preventing muscle breakdown (catabolism). BCAAs can be taken in pill or powder form.
Benefits of BCAA’s include:
- Increased endurance
- Increased lean muscle growth
- Decreased muscle loss
- Increased metabolism
- Increased strength
- Fatigue prevention during exercise
- Increased energy levels
- Improved immune system function
- Improved post-exercise recovery
Glutamine is the most common amino acid found in your muscles – over 61% of skeletal muscle is Glutamine; it is also found in your blood and gut and is used as a main source of fuel for the immune system. Glutamine has been shown to aid in recovery, reduce protein catabolism and increase protein metabolism.
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