Workout supplements can be effective, but only when paired with high-intensity training and a nutritional diet.
Fitness specialists and nutritionists all agree that you should only take supplements after you’ve done all the first steps and reached a plateau phase, where progress isn’t possible anymore. In this case, supplements will help you move forward and reach new heights.
But what exactly are these first steps? First, you should clean up your eating habits and focus on including lean, nutritional ingredients in your daily diet (chicken, vegetables, low-fat foods, and more). Avoid sugary foods, fried foods, and everything that’s highly processed or rich in unsaturated fats. Also, don’t skip meals (especially breakfast) and keep track of your caloric intake.
The second step is training. The calories you bring in via nutrition need to be put to work with an efficient training routine. This means building an efficient training routine, that works for you, and focuses on the areas you want to grow.
Once you settle into your training rhythm and find the right diet for your nutritional needs, you will start to notice progress. After a while, you’ll notice a downslope and you’ll eventually hit a plateau. When this happens, supplements can be of help.
As the name says, pre-workout supplements are designed to give you a boost of energy before the workout. As a result, you’ll feel more motivated to work harder and overcome your current limitations.
Most formulas contain a blend of beta-alanine, caffeine, and creatine (plus a few other ingredients):
- Beta-alanine is an amino acid that promotes muscular endurance and helps fight muscular fatigue (read more about the benefits of beta-alanine);
- Caffeine stimulates the internal organs and functions and helps enhance cognitive function and boosts your physical performance;
- Creatine is a source of energy that also helps build and maintain muscles. And, since it’s derivative of three amino acids naturally produced in the body it assimilates quickly and provides results rather fast.
Now, to reap all the benefits, it’s best to take a pre-workout supplement about 30 minutes before starting the session. This should give your body plenty of time to absorb the ingredients and build up energy.
Post-workout supplements are no longer built around the idea of boosting energy and keeping muscles engaged. These supplements are designed to tend to your achy muscles and promote repair and regeneration.
For instance, some products may contain ingredients such as glutamine, BCAAs, and casein protein. All these are focused on increasing muscle synthesis and helping recovery. And, according to athletes who use post-workout supplements, the muscles don’t ache as much the day after the workout (a sign that the supplements are working).
Quick tip: if you’re looking to add mass, the best post-workout supplement is one based on whey protein.
Now, depending on the type of supplement, you may have different hours to take them. Therefore, it’s best to follow the producer’s instructions and always respect the dosage.
In summary, supplements are not the only way to go when you’re trying to get fit. Still, they can provide a helpful boost of energy and can help with muscle repair once you’ve hit the plateau phase.
Additionally, you may also want to consider some probiotic supplements as they help maintain a healthy gut, which is crucial for general well-being and energy production. Still, it’s best to avoid mixing several supplements together without talking to a physician first.
Overall, supplements, especially those built for a workout, can be helpful (if taken according to instructions). However, it’s important to understand their role and not overdo it.