If you’re ‘big’ into working out, you’ve probably taken (or are currently taking) workout supplements. There are, to be sure, a wide variety of supplements on the market being pushed as ‘essential,’ ‘excellent,’ ‘potent’ and so forth. Some work wonders, so do, well, not much of anything. The key, of course, is to choose your workout supplements correctly. It’s also vital that you take them at the correct time to get the most benefit from every supplement you use.
In today’s article, we’re going to take a closer look at workout supplements, which 10 are the best, and when to take them for maximum results. So if getting swole is on your agenda, and you want the best supplements to help, put down those dumbbells, wipe down your workout bench, and read on!
Not All Workout Supplements Actually Work
Here’s the thing; many workout supplements on the market aren’t worth the plastic container they come in. Sure, they boast about all the benefits they provide, but in many cases, it’s just that; a boast. When you get down to the nitty-gritty, they don’t give any real benefit (although they do tend to drain your wallet pretty darn fast).
Here are a few of the supplements that, hyped as they might be, you should avoid. They include;
- Acai Berry
- Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)
- Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA)
- Deer velvet antler
- Garcinia Cambogia
- HGH Boosters
- Green Coffee Extract
- Raspberry Ketones
- Hoodia Gordonii
- Tribulus Terrestris
Here’s a fact, friends, that you need to keep in mind; the ‘health’ supplement industry has an abysmal reputation. Even worse, many retailers you know and trust are in cahoots with them, selling junk packaged as “healthy workout supplements.” Don’t Believe us? Walgreens, Walmart, Target, and GNC have been caught selling a “herbal supplement” that basically contained asparagus, powdered rice, and, get this, house plants.
In short, do yourself a favor and don’t just take any supplement that has a beautiful label and all sorts of big, fancy words. Educate yourself by reading articles like this and by doing your due diligence. You’ll get much better results in the long run and probably save quite a bit of money also.
How To Choose a Supplement By Reading the Label (And Knowing Some Facts)
If you ask the clerk where you purchase supplements that are the best, you will almost definitely get a biased response. (They are, after all, there to sell you supplements rather than prevent you from purchasing any.) You must read the labels on any supplement you plan to buy with that in mind. Here’s what you know and look for:
- How much of a specific, beneficial ingredient does the supplement contain? Frankly, most have so little of a particular ingredient that it won’t make a difference one way or the other.
- If the ingredient label says that the product contains a “proprietary blend” of ingredients, leave it on the shelf. Most supplement companies use this wordplay to hide that their products are filled with cheap, non-essential ingredients.
- Get the facts. Most labels will talk about how the ingredients in their recipe are good for certain, specific results. Many times, however, the benefits associated with their ingredients haven’t been proven by research.
- Keep in mind that, for a supplement to be effective, the dosage must be very high and could likely be quite expensive. (That’s why making a high-quality supplement is almost impossible. The final price would be too expensive for the average consumer.)
- Don’t rely 100% on ‘studies’ and ‘research.’ It’s frustrating to know that there are studies out there that are incredibly biased. Funded by, for example, the company making the product, you can’t fully believe anything, or any results, they report. However, if the study is published in a peer-reviewed journal, you can give it quite a bit more credibility.
How Much and When Should You Take Workout Supplements
Many of you may be disappointed by this, but, frankly, every person is different. That means every person would take workout supplements based on factors like:
- How often you work out
- What time of day you work out
- What goals are you trying to reach
- What is your weight and body type?
- Do you have any current health problems?
Around here, we know a lot about biohacking, supplementation, and so forth. However, we’re not doctors, personal trainers, or nutritionists. That being said, we can’t give you medical or nutritional advice but can only recommend that you seek it out from a licensed practitioner.
What Supplements Have Shown Actual, Real-World Results?
Now that we’ve gotten the supplements out-of-the-way that don’t do squat, let’s take a look at those that have been scientifically proven to deliver benefits when working out. There are quite a few of them, actually, and although the results they deliver vary, they are all definitely worth looking into.
The Top 10 Workout Supplements
Below is an admittedly incomplete list of the best workout supplements based on scientific research and results. (It is, however, in alphabetical order!)
An amino acid that occurs naturally in the human body, beta-alanine regulates carnosine, a molecule stored in, and helps regenerate, muscles. When you take beta-alanine, you’ll see your fatigue reduced, your capacity to work out anaerobically increased, and possibly have an increase in the amount of weight that you can lift.
For a clinically useful dose of beta-alanine, you should take between 2.6 and 6.4 g every day. The timing is more or less insignificant.
Found in beets and other darkly colored fruits and vegetables, the chain, a.k.a. trimethylglycine, has been shown to boost muscle endurance as well as increase your strength.
A clinically significant dose of betaine is between 1.25 and 2.5 g daily.
An amino acid, citrulline, encourages nitrous nitric oxide production. This, in turn, has been shown to boost the endurance of your muscles and minimize soreness after a workout. It also has been shown to enhance any aerobic workout significantly.
Between 6 and 8 g of citrulline per day is recommended.
Creatine has the distinction of being one of the few supplements that have been directly shown to accelerate muscles’ growth. In fact, creatine has been shown to boost muscle gain, increase, and aerobic endurance, and minimize damage to the muscles when working out.
“Loading” with creatine is when you take about 20 g a day for a week and then lower your dosage to 5 g per day. This helps it accumulate in your muscles a lot faster, and get the benefits faster as well. If that’s not for you, a clinically significant dose is 5 g per day.
Incredibly popular, fish oil is being taken by millions of people for the health benefits it provides, as well as several things I can do for your workout. They include improving the synthesis of proteins, decreasing anxiety, and also reducing muscle soreness and inflammation from your exercise routine.
Between 3.5 and 4.5 g of fish oil per day is recommended. Make sure it’s in the form of omega-3 fatty acids as a simple “fish oil” doesn’t have to be, and usually isn’t, 100% omega-3 fatty acids but a mixture of other fish oils.
Research has shown that supplementing with forskolin raises your testosterone level significantly, allowing you to get a better workout. It also has been shown to speed up fat loss.
Clinical research shows that 50 mg of forskolin per day is sufficient.
β-Hydroxy β-Methyl butyrate, aka HMB, doesn’t have any strong research showing that it increases muscle growth (much to manufacturers’ chagrin). One thing that is very well-established about HMB, though, is that it’s incredibly good at preventing the breakdown of muscle. (This is known as being anti-catabolic.) In short, when you take HMB, you can recover faster after a workout and should have significantly less soreness.
Between two and 3 g of HMB per day is recommended to be clinically useful.
While most protein is more or less the same, its source can be a game-changer. Protein from eggs is said to be better than protein from milk (casein protein). For example, egg protein is absorbed very well; it’s very high in essential amino acids and is digested slower than milk protein. As far as protein powder is concerned, there are several kinds, including whey, casein, soy, egg, and several other plant-based protein powders. The best, as far as research shows, include;
- Rice protein
- Pea protein
- Egg protein
Blue-green algae is often used as a protein source. Spirulina contains a high amount of phycocyanobilin, which has been shown to improve performance, reduce inflammation, and reduce blood pressure.
We suggest trying Spirulina first to make sure that you aren’t allergic to it. (Your face will swell, your skin will get red, and you may have diarrhea if you are.) If you’re not, between one and 3 g per day is recommended.
One of the reasons that zinc is such a popular workout supplement is that it is involved in regulating testosterone levels. It’s best to be checked for zinc deficiency before starting to supplement with it. Generally speaking, about 30 mg per day is recommended.
Supplementing your workout will help increase your muscle mass, decrease your soreness and inflammation, and give you better results. Be wary of supplements that promise too much and deliver too little, however, as most will drain your bank account.