Selecting the right fitness supplement can be difficult. There are a lot of different fitness supplements on the market today and the range of products keeps growing. And in addition, each supplement works in its own specific way and therefore has its own effect. That´s why it can be difficult to choose the right supplement from this large range of products.
In this article you will read 5 tips to get the best out of your fitness supplements to help you achieve your best result ever! After reading this article you will know:
1. which supplements are available and how they work
2. which supplements match your personal goal
3. how to determine the correct dosage
4. when it's the perfect time to take your supplements
5. what determines the quality and where you buy the best supplements
In order to choose the fitness supplements that optimally contribute to your personal goal, it's important that you know which supplements are currently available on the market.
Anyone that has ever looked around for supplements on the internet or in a nutrition store knows that the range of products is very diverse: powders, pills, drinks, pots, buckets, bags ... it seems like an endless assortment.
But with the explanantion below it's not difficult to distinguish between different types of supplements and the purpose that they serve. This is an overview of the most popular supplements and the way they work:
Vitamins and minerals are substances that you find in food and drinks such as iron, omega 3, vitamin B12, C and D. They help to keep your body healthy and your immune system up to standard. They also provide your body with energy. The only vitamine that your body only produces itself is vitamin D, all other vitamins and minerals have to taken in via food and drinks.
Protein is an important nutrient for building muscle. Proteins deliver calories and amino acids. An adult person needs an average of 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. When you specifically train for extra strength or building muscle mass, you need more than 1 gram of protein per kilogram of body weight.
The most complete form of protein is whey protein. Whey proteins come in 3 different types: whey protein concentrate, whey protein isolate and whey protein hydrolyzate. The most pure form, and with that the best variant, is the hydrolyzate. Whey hydrolyzate consists for 99% out of pure proteins.
Amino acids act as building blocks for your body. They are essential in building and restoring muscle mass and strength. There are essential and non-essential amino acids. Your body can produce non-essential amino acids itself. The essential amino acids have to be taken in via your diet or a supplement.
In total there are 22 different types of amino acids of which 9 are essential. The 3 main essential amino acids are leucine, isoleucine and valine. These amino acids are called BCAAs: Branched Chain Amino Acids.
Creatine is produced naturally by your body in the liver. It's used to increase the performance of strength athletes during short-term strength efforts. Creatine has no effect on endurance sports. Many athletes who take creatine experience that they build up volume relatively fast. This is partly because your body retains fluid. As soon as you stop taking creatine you lose this fluid, and with it a part of the volume.
Pre-workout is the collective term for supplements that you take before your workout in order to give your body an energy boost. In almost all pre-workouts the most important active ingredients are creatine and caffeine. By taking a pre-workout half an hour before your training your energy level will increase and you can get more out of your workout!
Post-workout is the collective term for supplements that you take after your workout. The active ingredients are (partly) supplements that are mentioned above
such as amino acids and creatine. But often they also contain glutamine, BCAA, beta-alanine and taurine. When you train you damage your muscles causing cracks in the muscle fiber. The active
substances in post-workouts fill up these cracks which causes the muscle to increase in volume. The muscle grows and becomes stronger.
The primary goal of a weight gainer is ofcourse to gain weight. A composition of carbohydrates and proteins provide the build up of extra mass that mostly consists of muscle and fat. If you find it hard to gain weight and you want to add extra calories to your diet, a weight gainer is your supplement!
Testosterone is the male sex hormone and it's produced in the adrenal glands. This hormone provides men with hair growth, a low voice and muscle building. Women also produces testosterone but in much smaller concentrations. It's a body substance that increases the production of muscle proteins. If you take testosterone then your muscles will grow faster and bigger.
The active substances in fat burners are mostly green tea extract, caffeine and chromium. But red pepper and ginger also belong to the fixed pallet of ingredients. It helps you lose fat because they increase your metabolism. This burns more calories which leads to the loss of fat tissue.
The most common way to take in the supplements mentioned above is via shakes. The supplement is a powder that you mix with water, milk or fruit juice. Vitamins, minerals, testosterone and fat burners are also available in pill form. With regard to the effect there's no significant difference between taken it in via a pill or powder.
Before you decide which supplements you are going to use, it's important to have a clear understanding of your personal goal. Your goal determines in what way you want to support your body.
You can distinguish 3 primary goals: increase muscle strength, building muscle mass and weight loss. For each of these 3 goals different specific supplements are required.
When your goal is to lose weight by losing fat, you don't want to use weight gainers. And when you want to build muscle mass, only taking vitamin C is
not enough. Your goal therefore determines the choice of your supplements.
In the overview below you see which supplements can be used for each of the 3 personal goals.
Regardless of your personal goal, you can always take extra vitamins, minerals and amino acids to support your body.
It's very important that you use the correct dosage when taking fitness supplements. You can use vitamins, minerals, proteins, amino acids, weight
gainers and post-workouts according to your needs. To a certain extent, the more you take the bigger the effect will be. However, your body also reaches a saturation point. This means that from
that point onwards extra intake has less or no effect.
The graph below clearly shows that from a certain point onwards the effect of a supplement decreases as you take more. The first phase of the intake has the greatest effect on your body. When you take in more the effect will decrease until your body reaches its saturation point.
The red line (Y=1) on the vertical axis means that your body is completely saturated.
The number of units per week is shown on the horizontal axis. X=1 means that you take a specific supplement once a week. X=7 means that you take the supplement 7 times a week (once a day). And X=14 means that you take the supplement 14 times a week (twice a day).
The graph shows that the effect gets less when you take a supplement more than once a day. And taking fitness supplements more than twice a day will eventually lead to full saturation:
For fat burners, pre-workout and creatine the dose is prescribed on the product label. Do not exceed this recommended dosage!
This also applies to testosterone. Realize well that the use of testosterone has a bigger impact on your body than the other supplements mentioned above. A disruption of your testosterone level by over intake can lead to hair loss, skin problems and an enlarged prostate. But also to more serious conditions such as heart rhythm disorders and an increased risk of prostate cancer.
You can take protein and weight gainers according to your own needs. This varies from a shake per day to two or even three a day, depending on the intensity of your training schedule. The more you take, the faster the effect will be visible and the bigger the impact on your body will be.
The intake of creatine consists of two different phases. The first phase is called the loading phase. In the loading phase you take up to 20 grams of creatine divided over 4 moments per day. Then take 5 grams every day. It is advisable to stop 2 months after 2 months of use. This way you don't disturb the natural production of creatine in the body.
The moment at which you take your supplement is very important for the effect it has. Knowing exactly when this optimal moment is increases the effect of a
fitness supplement significantly.
There are 3 important reference points in a day to which you have to allign your intake. The first reference point is your workout, the second point is the three main meals; breakfast, lunch and dinner and the third point is the moment you go to bed. Your supplement intake is plotted around these 3 reference points.
Below you see a schematic representation of these reference points. The moment of intake per supplement is plotted around these reference points. The testosterone supplement is not included because the intake strongly depends on the type and brand.
The same principals apply if you train in the morning or in the afternoon. You take your vitamins, minerals, fat burner and creatine before lunch. These supplements are most effective if you have the largest part of the day still ahead of you.
You take your pre-workout before you start your training (obviously). Take this between 20 and 30 minutes before your workout for maximum effect!
Take your amino's, proteins and post-workouts during or within one hour after completing your workout. Because your muscles get damaged during training, this is the perfect time to let these supplements do their trick! They replenish the damaged muscles, leading to an increase in both muscle mass and strength.
In addition to the supplements mentioned above, you can take weight gainer and extra protein in the afternoon. This depends on your need and the goal you want to achieve. During periods when you train hard and really push your body, you take 3 shakes a day: in the morning, in the afternoon and in the evening. It helps your muscles to recover faster and grow even bigger.
Note - The intake advice above may differ from what your supplement prescribes. Always follow the information that the supplement provides you with on the packaging!
Of course you want the best quality when it comes to fitness supplements. But there are two things that are important to mention here. Firstly, you always have to compare quality and price; more expensive does not always mean better! And secondly, the effect, and therefore the quality, of a supplement, differs per person.
When you look for a certain supplement within a category, you will find substantial price differences. Take the big protein buckets for example. Thet are available from $30 onwards. But in the same category you will find this product for sale for $80. Which one do you buy?
It all depends on your personal goal, need and level. Are you a novice to middle experienced athlete than the cheaper variants are more than good to begin with. Your body will respond quickly to the supplement and the effect will be visible within a month. Cheaper variants or 'own brand' products will be effective enough. Don't think that expensive is always better.
If you are an experienced athlete, it's important that you include the quality variable in your consideration. It's then possible that you end up with the more expensive products. Because the body of an experienced athlete is already much more developed, you are looking for the last few percent that completely finishes the body. Then it's important to have clear for yourself which supplement suits you best. It may be that paying more for extra quality is essential for achieving your goal. What determines the quality?
When purchasing a supplement, pay attention to the amount of sugar it contains. The quality indication is very simple: the less sugar the better. Also check for other sweeteners such as maltodextrin and glucose syrup, these are real fat makers.
Do not purchase products where E numbers and dyes have been added. There are enough alternatives without these useless unhealthy additions.
The best quality protein is the whey protein hydrolyzate. This consists of 99% pure proteins, making it the most concentrated type of protein that you can buy. It's therefore also the most expensive.
Starting athletes can easily start with whey protein concentrate or protein isolate. These variants are a lot cheaper and quickly generate the desired effect. When you really start to fine-tune your body, it certainly has added value to switch to the more expensive hydrolyzate protein.
When you talk about quality it is good to realize that the effect of a supplement differs per person. The effectiveness is closely related to your hormone balance, the way your muscles are built, your metabolism and a number of other physical parameters.
A supplement that works well for you can work less effective for another person and vice versa. Quality as a concept is therefore relative and depends on the person. That's why it's important to try different brands and types to experience which supplement works best for you.
There are plenty of websites that offer a wide range of supplements. Here you can order all the supplements mentioned above and much more! Below you will find a number of useful links to the largest webshops:
These webshops all have free shipping from a small order amount and if you order before 10 pm it will arrive the next day.
Choose the fitness supplement that best suits your personal goal. More expensive does not always mean better. Depending on your goal and your fitness experience, there are products on the market in the lower price range that work very effectively.
Deepen yourself in the functioning of the supplement before you start. Be aware of the effect it has on your body and why it could contribute to achieving your goals.
Allign the dose to your training schedule and your own needs. All supplements have a dose recommendation on the packaging, do not exceed this recommended dosage!
The exact moment of intake of the supplement defines its effectiveness. Intake at the optimal time and moment will ensure a bigger impact on your body.
Supplements are offered in different price ranges. When you start using supplements, it's wise to vary with different brands and products from diferent price ranges to experience which supplements work best for you. Stay away from supplements with added sweeteners, colorants and E-numbers.
The right supplement combined with the right workout and optimal intake will for the full 100% contribute to achieving your personal goals!