Let’s face it, things these days aren’t cheap. The prices of homes are on the rise, food is getting more expensive, and overall the cost of living is always rising. Well the same thing goes with supplements. With so many choices out there on the market it is tough to pick what would benefit you the most. You have salesmen trying to persuade you to purchase something that will give them a nice commission, your friends are telling you to try something they used, you see all the adds in magazines—what exactly do you need? There are just too many choices with a lot of different price ranges. Well I’m here to shed some light on the subject and help you reach your goals without breaking your bank account.
There are the basics, which everyone should be using, and then there are accessory supplements. The basics are the things that you MUST have in order to stay healthy and also to make any type of lean mass gains. Accessory supplements are things that you can add to your supplement arsenal if you have some extra money. These products don’t necessarily give you any gains; most of them are a temporary feeling such as vasodilatation products, which give you a nice pump while in the gym.
Here is a list of the basics that you should pick up (in no particular order):
- Protein Powder
- Fish Oil
Now I’m sure you are wondering why I chose these products. Here is my reasoning:
Protein powder is a cheap and fairly inexpensive way to increase your daily intake of protein. Most people can’t get in 5-7 meals a day so they turn to protein powders to fill in the gaps. Majority of the powders on the market have a great nutrition profile and will fill in any gap you are lacking during the day. They can be used as snack or even as meal replacements. However, the main use for the protein powders should be for post workout nutrition. You want to feed your muscles around 40-50 grams of protein after your workout to give them the nutrients they need to repair and grow. There are many different types of protein powder out there so find one that meets your needs and one that you enjoy the taste.
Your best choice for a protein powder is whey. It can either be a concentrate or an isolate. Concentrate will be less expensive. The isolates tend to be more expensive because they are absorbed better and faster than concentrates. Isolates are also low in carbohydrates where compared to whey concentrate powders. If price is an issue, a concentrate is your best choice. It is also a great choice for those just starting out. Some people mention they have digestive issues while using concentrates. Everyone is different, so see how it works for you. You can always try out an isolate at a later time.
There are also slow digesting proteins call casein, which are great to use before bed. Casein digests between 5-7 hours that makes it ideal for at night. By throwing in some casein protein at night your body will stay anabolic and build and repair muscle rather than starving for nutrients and breaking down your muscles. You want to prevent your body from achieving a catabolic phase at all costs.
A multivitamin is probably the most important aspect to a bodybuilder. In order for your body to work properly, it needs the proper vitamins and minerals to do so. If you become deficient in any area, your health and performance will decline. Each vitamin and mineral does thousands of biochemical reactions in the body and helps keep hormone levels steady. So what does all of this mean? It means if you don’t use a multivitamin or you use a cheap one, you won’t get the results you are looking for. You can safely take a multivitamin in the morning (which everyone should do regardless if it is a workout day or not) and also one following your workout.
Fish oil is a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids as well as EFA’s (essential fatty acids). A good fish oil should include EPA and DHA. These are the “good fats” that we all need. They help lower cholesterol and also improve cardiovascular health—not to mention all of the cancer and illness prevention you get from the fish oil. It also helps improve joint flexibility as well as supporting brain, nerve, and visual function. Fish oil can be found in liquid form (which most people don’t like the taste) and also in pill form.
For those of you who are interested in the human body should already know that creatine is naturally found in all of our bodies. Its use is to give us energy to do quick explosive movements. It gives us creatine phosphate, which then breaks apart and rebuilds to form ATP, which produces more energy as fuel for our muscles. Creatine is what helps us keep the intensity up in our workout without hitting the wall early on. It also helps us recover faster not only during our workout, but after our workout (which is when we grow).
Creatine is found in our bodies like I stated above, and it is also found in some of the foods that we eat—including red meat as well as in fish. However, in order to get he dosage that you need, you would have to eat a lot of red meat and fish, which doesn’t make sense and would be mighty expensive. Creatine can be found in tablet or pill form and also in a powder. There are plain creatine monohydrate products as well as micronized creatine and CEE products. All of which basically do the same thing. The least expensive creatine out on the market today is creatine monohydrate. Some people are non-responders to creatine, so it might not work for everyone. However, if you get small gains off of the monohydrate, you can try out the different types of creatine to see what works best for your body. There is no one supplement that works for everyone—all of our bodies are unique and react differently to supplements.
Creatine does not need to be loaded and it is personal preference if you want to cycle it or not. You can safely take creatine both before and after your workouts. For those who cycle creatine, you will find that you will lose a little weight when you cycle off—no it’s not muscle mass you lost! Creatine by nature causes water to flood your cells and muscles. When you stop using creatine for a period of time, some of the water that flooded your muscles and cells will be diminished.
If you look on the nutrition label of your protein powder, you may see some BCAAs in the mix. However, for majority of the protein powders out there, the dosage of BCAAs isn’t high enough to use alone. Therefore, it would be smart to invest in a BCAA product. BCAAs (branched chain amino acids) are the essential aminos that we need. The human body cannot make essential amino acids. You must get them from complete protein foods or from combinations of incomplete vegetable foods. There are 9 essential amino acids—histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, tryptophan, and valine. Your body can make non-essential amino acids by itself from vitamins and other amino acids. BCAAs are small enough to get into the blood stream and then out to the muscles. They help build and repair tissues such as muscle. They also produce chemicals that enable our brains to function optimally. BCAAs can be found in tablet or pill and also in liquid or powder form. It is personal preference which you choose.
With all the products that are out there, I hope this opened your eyes to exactly what you NEED to have rather than what you WANT to have. Not only is this going to save you money, but also this will help you achieve the muscle mass you always wanted! If you have some extra money left over and you want to experiment with other products, by all means go ahead and try them. Just be aware that the effects that you will get from most of the other products will diminish and fade away when they are all used up. You need a good basic foundation before you can build a house…
Author: Matt Weik
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