A common question we get asked is what supplements people should take. “Should I take this protein powder? This pre-workout? When should I take it? Etc, Etc, Etc.” Today we will dive a little deeper into this topic so you can make more informed decisions next time you find yourself asking the above questions.
Before we dive into any recommendations, we first need to understand what supplements are and what they are not. They are not a substitute for real food, they are not a balanced diet, they are not a magic pill or cure for burning fat or putting on absurd amounts of muscle mass. If they were any of the above, then just about everyone would be big and strong and shredded, and we know that isn’t true. Supplements are exactly as their name implies, a supplement to your already balanced diet. Now that we have established that, we can dive in a little deeper.
So, what supplements should you take? First and foremost, you should eat a diet consisting of mostly whole, unprocessed foods. That Is the best supplement you can take. Combining that with proper amounts of food and exercise, and you likely will not need to take any additional supplements! If you still are looking for a little edge, we recommend the following: a high-quality whey or vegan protein powder, coffee, fish oil or collagen, and creatine. What are the benefits of these, and should you take them?
First, protein, is essential in all human diets, how active you are will determine if you need to eat more or less protein. If you exercise frequently or have an active job or lifestyle, you will need to consume more protein each day in order to ensure you break down and cannibalize your current muscle cells. If you eat some form of protein (meat, eggs, etc) with each meal, you are probably getting in enough protein. If you find yourself hungry more often than you think, or you are losing muscle mass, consider adding in a high-quality whey or vegan protein! Don’t worry about when you take it, just try to get in some more protein this way!
Next, coffee, there are tons of benefits to coffee for both our health and our performance. It has been widely studied and has shown a lot of benefits. Caffeine is not for everyone though, so if you have trouble sleeping, or feel the effects of caffeine for hours and hours after consumption, maybe this one isn’t for you. If you are looking for some additional antioxidants, and a mental and physical boost, try out coffee (if you aren’t already crushing cups per day like me).
Third we have either, fish oil or collagen. Both of these have similar effects on us, and both can be obtained from a well-balanced diet. They help reduce inflammation in the body and promote better joint health. Collagen has an edge over fish oil on the joint health side of things. People have reported that their hair and nails look and feel better when taking collagen as well. If you are on the fence between the two, I would try out a quality marine or beef collagen. If you are someone who has a lot of joint pain after a tough workout, you are a candidate for either of these.
Finally, we have creatine. A controversial but well studied supplement. You can obtain creatine through a well-balanced diet, however, getting enough to fully replenish creatine stores in your body can be difficult. Our body can use creatine to make ATP for energy during physical activity. If we top off our creatine stores, we can give out body an advantage during initial bursts of high intensity activity. We burn through these stores pretty quickly, so don’t expect to go from a 200-pound deadlift to a 400-pound deadlift overnight. If you feel like your diet is dialed in but still aren’t getting that edge on your workouts, try taking 5g of creatine monohydrate before your workout!
There are literally thousands of supplements we didn’t go over. Most of them aren’t really necessary unless you have deficiency is some area of your health. When looking at what supplements to take, the first thing to look at is your diet. Are you eating a balanced diet or whole, unprocessed foods? If you are doing that but still aren’t reaching your goals, consider the above supplements and see how you do with them. If that still doesn’t get you to your goals, schedule a conversation with one of our coaches and they will help lay out a plan to get you to your goals! You can do that here: