Supplements 101

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If you’re new to the world of strength training, wanting to fix up your diet, or just want to try out something new, we’re here to help. Honestly, supplements are always a bit intimidating at first because there are just so many different types out there and they’re all responsible for a particular job. It all depends on your goal, but it’s always good to research what type of supplements are best for your desired diet and end goal. 

First off, supplements should never be a replacement for proper nutrition. It should act as its namesake, a supplement. As mentioned earlier, it all depends on what your overall fitness goal is. To help you build your own stack that is Instagram-worthy, we’ve put together a guide that’ll help you reach your goals in no time.

1: Protein

This is a staple for body builders and gym rats alike. You always hear and see everyone talking about protein shakes and there’s a reason for that. While the most obvious answer for getting the right amount of protein is through animal sources, it can be time consuming and a little heavy on the wallet. For those that do not eat meat or even for those that cannot eat every 2-3 hours, protein shakes really help out with that. Protein supplements act quite quickly and is an ideal source for rebuilding muscle post-workout. If you’re going to invest in one supplement to accompany your gym routine, make it protein.

There are about five different types of protein: whey, casein, soy, egg, and plant. The most common one is whey protein, so we’ll start with that.
 
Whey isolate is the fastest absorbing protein. It is essential if you’re going to build and maintain muscle. It is a low-fat, and low carb source of protein, and it’s the best supplement to drink after a workout. Just remember to pick one that tastes pretty good. Most of them come in flavours like chocolate, vanilla, cookies and cream, and vanilla ice cream.

If you’re really hardcore, casein protein is something you want to look at. The word ‘casein’ isn’t really thrown around too much so I’ll give you a little bit of background information on it.
 
Casein protein is a calcium rich, slow digesting protein source that is anti-catabolic. This means that it is slower in its protein release compared to something like whey. The benefits of casein are that it is a rich source of calcium, it is a complete source of protein and it is an appetite suppressor since it takes a longer time to make its way through the body.

If you’re a vegetarian or lactose intolerant and whey and casein are not fit for you, soy protein is a great alternative. Soy protein can be taken pre or even post workout and it is very lean in terms of calories or carbs.

Egg protein powders are not very common, but they do exist. Eggs serve as a great source of protein, which means breakfast is that much more healthy with eggs!
 
When it comes to bodybuilding and exercise in general, protein is the word that is most commonly used. So eggs are an easy way to incorporate protein into your diet and you don’t even need to consume it in powder form.

The last of the proteins are plants. Plant proteins are the most natural of the protein family. It can be found in various vegetables, as well as brown rice. Certain plant proteins are 100% protein. This means it is a more powerful source of protein overall.

2: Fish oil

I know, it sounds a little gross at first but I promise you that fish oil has many benefits. Not only does it provide omega-3 fatty acids (which are essential to the body), it supports cognitive function, healthy skin, and a healthy immune system.
 
In order to get the most from your fish oil supplement, it is best to take 1.5-3 grams per day. However, be warned there may or may not be a fishy aftertaste after taking the actual fish oil. If you want to avoid that aftertaste, you might want to take a fish oil capsule. That way, you can take this necessary fatty acid and avoid the consequences.

3: Branched Chain Amino Acid

I know, that’s a handful to say. While it does sound slightly complicated, this provides many benefits.
 
Let me break it down for you first: BCAAs are leucine, isoleucine, and valine. So what exactly do these BCAAs do? They increase energy, boost strength and power, and improve overall muscle-building potential. They are also useful on non-training days to help maintain lean body mass.

4: Glutamine

Glutamine is an adaptogenic amino acid that can be found in protein. It plays a very important role in immune system health. Some benefits of glutamine include muscle growth, reduced muscle catabolism, and healthy immune system function among other things. More importantly, it’s very effective after workouts because of its ability to re-synthesize muscle glycogen and glutamine levels lost during a gym session without the release of insulin. Because of this fact alone, it is pretty beneficial for people who carb cycle, more importantly those who are on a low carb diet.

5: Creatine

This is another supplement name that is thrown around regularly. Creatine acts as a health booster. Think of it as your aid in going HAM at the gym. It also acts as a “cell volumizer” which makes muscles fuller. Creatine is a by-product from the amino acid metabolites found in the liver, kidneys, and pancreas.

While we have shown you the top five most important supplements to aid you in your fitness journey the most important one is protein. Protein helps to aid you in muscle repair and helps you maintain lean mass. I know that having all of these supplements may not be the most wallet-friendly choice but they do help you out.

Just remember that supplements are their namesake, supplements and they should not be taken instead of regular food. They should be taken along with food to help you reach your fitness goal.

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