When it comes to getting the most out of your workouts, every little edge you can get can make a huge difference. While great bodies are developed in the gym, the real key to getting the physique you want is to make sure your diet and supplementation is on point.
Walk through any health food store and you’ll see dozens of supplements sitting on the shelves, promising everything from increased muscle mass to rapid fat loss. Unfortunately, most of them have pretty tenuous links to the results they’re claiming, and while they may help you a little they usually won’t grant you the kind of transformation the sales literature would have you believe.
There are, however, a few supplements which do provide a proven benefit to you health and fitness levels. Here we’ll look at 3 essential supplements to help you improve your performance in the gym.
A dietary staple of bodybuilders for decades, whey protein can usually be spotted in large plastic drums in just about every health food store and supermarket. While different brands will make their own claims about the effectiveness of their product, the simple truth is that whey protein is generally the cheapest and most efficient way of increasing your protein intake.
If you’re looking to build muscle, you need to be eating at a slight caloric surplus and taking in plenty of protein. The body uses dietary protein to help rebuild muscles when they’re damaged during a workout, which is basically how you get stronger and add muscle to your frame. Whey protein allows you to increase your protein intake without having to tackle a rubbery chicken breast at every meal!
Creatine is a molecule which is found naturally in the body, and it helps provide energy to the muscles – particularly when they’re under stress. While you can get protein from food sources, particularly red meat and fish, the amount you would need to eat to match the dosage from protein supplements would leave little room for anything else in your diet.
Creatine acts as a stimulus to protein synthesis, essentially improving your ability to recover from your workouts, and has been shown to improve performance in the gym. The improved strength and energy levels offered by regular supplementation will allow you to train harder and longer, ultimately increasing your capacity for athletic improvement.
Thermogenics are generally marketed as fat loss or weight loss supplements, and used in conjunction with proper diet and exercise they can be a useful addition to your supplementation routine. Thermogenics work by slightly increasing the metabolism and curbing your appetite, meaning you’ll burn more calories at rest and should generally be eating less throughout the day.
Most are based around caffeine, so if you’re already a coffee addict you may not see the full benefits. The combination of ephedrine and caffeine has been shown to be effective and increasing metabolism and sparing muscle tissue during weight loss, but it can be a difficult supplement to get in some countries.
No amount of supplementation is going to make up for a poor diet and a lack of exercise, but when you combine all three you can really maximise your results!