Workouts are more effective when you partner them with a proper diet, proper sleep, and workout supplements. While a proper diet and rest will ensure your body works at its most optimum, taking these supplements could help fine-tune your workout levels. So whatever your goal is to improve your performance—decrease body fat, increase strength, or build muscle—supplements may help.
While these won’t act as magic pills, experts believe these may support your workout, especially when you take them after or in between sets. Since there are many supplements in the market, you’ll want to read up on the following recommended workout supplements and how to take them right:
One of the most popular supplements for working out is protein, as it may help improve overall muscle growth. Protein has also been found to play a significant role in preventing disease and infection and in repairing damaged tissue. Thus, you can have many benefits with such a source of energy and protein.
While you can get protein from legumes, seeds, grains, dairy products, eggs, fish, and meats, protein supplements may help bolster your protein intake. There are also many protein sources to allow you to have different choices according to your goal. Protein powders come in the following kinds:
- Hemp Protein: While hemp protein has low-level amino acid lysine, it has high omega-6 fats, omega-3 fats, and fiber. As its name suggests, this type of protein comes from hemp seeds, making it plant-based.
- Pea Protein: Another plant-based protein is pea protein. This has low levels of methionine and nonessential amino acids cysteine. Pea protein is also a great source of iron, which may aid in proper blood circulation.
- Soy Protein: If you want to enjoy a whole pack of amino acids, soy protein is for you.
- Casein Protein: This is dairy-based protein, making it slow to absorb. Thus, this is best taken before bedtime.
- Whey Protein: Another dairy-based protein is whey protein. Unlike casein protein, this type is easy to absorb, and it also has all the essential amino acids needed for muscle growth.
Protein powders are easy to prepare, and you only have to mix them with another liquid of your choice aside from using water. That way, you can have a protein shake wherever you go. You can prepare it as a smoothie by adding fruits, vegetables, and coconut water or milk. You can even find recipes using protein powder as an ingredient (mostly in desserts). That way, you can add protein powder little by little into your diet.
As for the quantity, experts suggest taking in around 30g of protein powder. This ideal amount may help initiate muscle protein synthesis and repair muscle damage after physical activities. In addition, building muscle mass by adding protein powder to your regular diet could help burn body fats, making you leaner, stronger, and bigger.
Since protein is better for muscle repair, it’s best to take this protein supplement after your workout. Your muscles need them most as they can repair muscles tissues lost or damaged during your previous workout.
Another popular supplement that most gym buffs use is creatine. By taking creatine supplements, you may prevent sports-related injuries, improve high-intensity exercise performance, and build your strength.
Since you can use creatine for quick bursts of energy stored in the muscles, this is said to increase your body’s creatine stores. As a result, you can reap the benefits from your workout quickly. Depending on your preference, you can take creatine in the following ways:
- Post-Workout: By taking creatine after a workout, you can pump up your body with an influx of nutrients. Creatine is said to help muscles gain back the nutrients lost during a workout. Some suggest adding carbs and protein together with creatine to achieve the best results.
- Pre-Workout: The primary currency of cellular energy known as ATP is essential when working out. That’s why it’s also advised to take creatine before you start your workout to increase your muscle power. Thus, you can activate more fibers and gain more muscles as you can do more.
- Take It Shortly Before Or After Exercise: Whether you decide to take it before or after a workout, it’s better to take it right away before or after your exercise. When you take it and have a more extended period, pre- or post-workout, you may not reap its benefits quickly. To gain more muscle mass, you may have to take the supplement closer to the time you begin or finish your workout.
Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)
You may also want to take in BCAAs as it’s a known counterpart of whey protein. By taking BCAAs, you may avoid being unable to move for days after strenuous exercises.
What makes it a good rival for protein supplements is that BCAAs are amino acids, or protein’s building blocks. These amino acids are essential in rebuilding and growing new muscles. So naturally, the body can manufacture 11 of the 20 amino acids the body needs. The remaining nine will come from supplements and your diet. Thus, BCAAs could be a great component to your regimen.
Amino acids like leucine are reduced during a workout. Replacing them so the body could build more muscle and stimulate protein synthesis could prove more beneficial to you. One solution you could do is to take in foods rich in those amino acids. However, it’s not healthy to take in too many peanuts, cottage cheese, or chicken all the time. With BCAAs tablets or powders, you get to balance your diet while supplementing your amino acid intake.
As for taking in BCAAs, you can easily use powder or tablets. Take them after a workout, and you’re good to go.
Another supplement that may help maximize your workout is beta-alanine. It’s one of the secret weapons used by athletes in enhancing their muscle endurance, growth, power, and strength. While it’s also naturally produced by the body, this non-proteinogenic amino acid forms a dipeptide when combined with histidine. Dipeptide or carnosine could help speed up recovery, prevent muscle fatigue, and delay the onset of lactic acid. However, lactic acid could build up and cause fatigue after physical exercises.
Carnosine is also said to help the muscle perform at optimal levels as it prevents pH levels from dropping. And by increasing your carnosine levels, you may be able to speed up your recovery while delaying muscle fatigue. As for taking beta-alanine supplements, you can also choose to take it pre- or post-workout. What’s important is you take it regularly. Even when you’re not working out, it’s best to take beta-alanine supplements to build up carnosine.
However, first consider these dosage recommendations to maximize its benefits:
- You may need to follow a loading phase with beta-alanine. For about four weeks, you should take at least 3.2g daily. That way, you can enjoy optimal muscle-building results.
- To amplify muscle performance, increase your intake to 6.4g daily after the 28th day.
Magnesium supplements is also thought to aid in muscle recovery. For example, during a tough workout, taking in magnesium is said to help your muscles relax by blocking calcium intake. With such, you won’t have to feel muscle aches, cramps, and spasms during post-workout recovery.
You can improve your jumping, rotation, flexion, and extension when you take magnesium supplements during the exercise. Thus, you can improve your workout performance as you could increase your power and strength.
Moreover, magnesium is also believed to help in activating vitamin D and other nutrients. When you have low vitamin D levels, you may feel pain and muscle weakness. As a result, you could have low performance, and your muscle mass could also decline.
While you can get magnesium from the food you eat, this may not be enough. As mentioned, it may not be good to take in too much of one type of food only. Thus, you need to take magnesium supplements to ensure your body gets the right amount of magnesium.
When taking in magnesium supplements, take note of the following:
- Consult your physician first before taking magnesium supplements as it may affect certain medications like bisphosphonates, blood pressure medications, muscle relaxants, and antibiotics. But in general, magnesium supplements can be effective and safe when you take them properly.
- The recommended dosage range is from 310mg to 420mg daily. If you have a magnesium deficiency, your physician may require you to take up to 500mg daily. The proper dosage is essential as people have different metabolisms. If unsure, start with a 200mg dose to check your body’s reactions before increasing the dose.
- You can take magnesium supplements during the daytime or before bedtime. However, you have to regularly take it for the long term so enjoy its benefits.
Fish oils contain omega-3 fatty acids from its DHA and EPA. These fatty acids are potent antioxidants as well as having anti-inflammatory properties. This is vital as it helps in the excess inflammatory response of the muscles. When the muscles undergo too much stress, the recovery period may take longer. That’s why many use fish oil supplements when they’re conducting intense periods of training.
When taking these supplements, it’s recommended to take them during breakfast daily. As for its dosage, 2g (DHA+EPA) may provide the most benefits.
Working out helps you improve your overall wellness, but it can also damage your muscles. This is normal as muscles must break down before they could rebuild, stronger and bigger. However, this may result in an inability to perform daily tasks efficiently as you may feel sore. But with the help of these supplements, you can improve or even quicken your post-workout recovery. Moreover, you can increase your performance so you can do more when you’re exercising.
Augustus Morris is a fitness instructor. He has medical background too. He advocates holistic fitness and healthy living. Augustus enjoys outdoor activities such as water sports activities and fishing.