The world of health supplements can be a scary place, and it’ easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer volume of products and information to wade through. With so much new and conflicting advice and data, how do you know where to even start?
The best thing you can do is to simply start with the basics and go from there. As the late, great, Jim Rohn once said, “Master the fundamentals, and success will follow”.
There are a handful of supplements that form a solid foundation to your fitness plan, that have stood the test of time, and are considered the basic building blocks of sport and workout nutrition.
- Protein Supplements – Protein shakes and powders are a staple of the industry, and have been for decades. Protein is critical for muscle growth, and having a shake just before or after a workout is a great way to feed the body correctly.
- Creatine – Creatine is a naturally-occurring amino acid that has been tested more than any other workout supplement, and has been repeatedly proven effective in causing an increase of volume to muscle tissue. This gives the muscles the appearance of being “pumped”. Creatine can also boost strength, improve recovery time after a workout, and even help improve brain health.
- Multivitamins – Finding a good multi-vitamin is smart for anyone, but especially so for those who are atheletes or fitness enthusiasts. The extra vitamins and trace minerals ensure that your body is getting all the right nutrients, which can often be somewhat hard to come by, even with a wide and varied diet.
- BCAA’s – Like protein, BCAA’s (or Branched Chain Amino Acids), are very important to muscle development. The body uses amino acids to grow, heal, and repair tissue that becomes damaged when working the muscles hard. This process is what creates larger muscles, which is why taking BCAA’s will help immensely if your goal is strength training or bodybuilding.
- Pre-Workout Supplements – This is a broad category that encompasses many supplements, ranging from those containing BCAA’s and creatine, to products with stimulant-type effects to help increase energy when working out, and heighten focus as well. For example, the popular supplement 4-Gauge (read the review here) contains ingredients that target both an increased blood flow, as well as a boost in performance while at the gym.
As you can see, the tried and true supplements used for years by bodybuilders and athletes is neither long nor confusing. If you stick to this basic list of workout supplements, you can’t really go wrong. After that, you can experiment with other products and see how they affect you, or if they do anything at all.