WHAT’S THE BEST SUPPLEMENT TO TAKE?
One of the most common questions I hear is what’s a good supplement to take to burn fat? Or what should I take for my training? Firstly, just like your diet it’s going to be dependent on your training and also what your body can handle as well as your budget.
Personally I have quite a sensitive one so some of the ingredients in many of the shelf supplements irritate my gut and therefore I don’t actually take many if any at all. Regardless of what the latest and greatest posts on instagram are promoting this is just as individualised as your eating and training so firstly you need to determine what result you are actually wishing to achieve and IF any supplements can support that.
The reality is supplements are exactly that – they are designed to ‘supplement’ nutritional gaps to help your body achieve peak performance. Alongside a quality diet and regular exercise your supplements should help improve your health, performance and physique, but before you go grabbing any old product off the shelf, or the latest #trending here I have covered the 5 most important supplements as well as the top 3 optional supplements to help improve and compliment your health and training.
Protein supplements are usually fast acting and can help reach your daily protein intake for times you are too busy to consume an actual meal. It is highly recommended for post workout consumption due to it’s faster absorbing ability.
Our daily caloric intake from protein should be between 20-30% sometimes even higher for hard training athletes or the sort. The ultimate complete protein is through food – especially animal product, however supplementation is just as beneficial if this does not suit your lifestyle. The types of protein available are:
Whey: this is a complete protein that is shown to promote lean muscle growth, fat loss as well as support your cardiovascular system and metabolism. It is quickly absorbed and an inexpensive source. However, as this is a by-product of turning milk into cheese it contains dairy which can be an allergen to some people or uncomfortable for digestion – but not to worry keep reading.
Casein: with all the similar benefits as whey, apart from digesting over a long period of time, this is a great option for before bed or consuming as a smoothie with added fruits as a snack option. As it is a slower release it’s not the best option for post workout as the body requires something more instant and again being a milk by-product won’t be suitable for those with lactose allergens or sensitive digestive issues.
Rice Protein: Brown rice protein is high in vitamin B and fiber as well as complex carbohydrate, this is also a very easily digestible protein and is hypoallergenic, meaning the body will use majority with little waste. Rice protein is a great plant based alternative however, it not a complete protein and lacks in some essential amino acids.
Pea Protein: derived from the yellow split pea, this is also a great plant based alternative for vegans and vegetarians or those with allergens and digestive issues. Like rice protein however, it does lack some amino acids, but depending on the brand can still be available as a complete protein so do your research.
*Ideally a combination rice and pea protein will give the full complete protein containing all the aminos required, similar to that delivered by whey.
Fish oil is renowned for containing high levels of Omega 3 – fatty acids which are considered “essential fatty acids” making them necessary for human growth and function but unfortunately are not produced by the body, making it necessary to be consumed through diet. Oily fish, eggs, some nuts and grass fed beef are just a few dietary options that contain omega 3. Whether you are wanting to build muscle, burn fat or just increase general health, fish oil is a great supplement to include daily and if that’s not enough here are some of the overall benefits that it can support:
BCAA’s (branched chain amino acids)
Branched chain amino acids or BCAA’s for short are a great supplement to include during training to prolong performance and promote recovery. The aminos are leucine, isoleucine and valine and are naturally found in high protein foods and are usually already absorbed through our everyday diet. For those who train regularly or are looking to promote muscle growth however, this supplement is encouraged to prevent muscle breakdown (catabolism) which in turn will see more potential muscle growth, as well as increase energy, boost strength and power and improve muscle building potential.
Glutamine is an amino acid found in protein which is the primary amino supporting skeletal muscle, immune health and overall wellbeing of the body. Taking glutamine can help support building muscle mass as well as reducing muscle catabolism and supporting gut health. It is best taken during or post workout to help restore muscle glycogen and glutamine levels that are lost while training without requiring the release of insulin (great for those on lower carb intake)
Creatine is a supplement with plenty of studies behind it and is designed to boost performance of high intensity activity, weightlifting and strength training allowing you to usually lift heavier and longer. 95% of creatine is stored in skeletal muscle while the remaining 5 is stored in the liver, kidney, brain and testes (for males) The most reliable form of creatine available is creatine monohydrate as it has undergone and withstood the most testing to date.
As I mentioned above these top 3 supplements are something I find can help assist with your training and recovery. They are not essential but again before grabbing the next HOT thing off the shelf, continue reading to see if they may suit your needs.
Caffeine is a naturally derived stimulant found in many products primarily coffee. It has had a positive effect on energy metabolism, weight loss and body fat as well as being an aid in both endurance and short burst training (sprints) by decreasing fatigue and increasing mental alertness and concentration. Most preworkouts will contain caffeine as well as amino acids, creatine, natural stimulants such as ginseng, guarana or green tea depending on your brand. For some a cup of coffee may just do the trick.
CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid)
Although there is not a great deal of evidence backing this product, studies have shown it is very effective in reducing fat mass and increasing lean muscle mass to help change the overall body composition. If this is goal relatable to you, this product may well be worth adding to the stack for faster and quality results.
ZMA (Zinc Monomethionine Aspartate)
ZMA products are usually a combination of zinc, magnesium and B vitamins designed to enhance sleep quality and exercise recovery. As it suggests this is great taken before bed to allow the body to utilise it overnight while it goes to work repairing your body from the day that was. Magnesium supports your muscle health, sleep quality and metabolism while zinc is a great immune and muscle support.
At the end of the day supplementation will all depend on the individual’s needs and goals. But by consuming a primarily intake of whole foods including plenty of green vegetables you should not find yourself lacking in deficiencies that should require supplementation.
*disclosure: the above is general guide, opinion and recommendation only – it is advisable to seek out further information from a GP or physician if you have any medical/health conditions or concerns that could affect consuming these supplements.
By Gemma Rice