For anyone who loves to train hard, it’s understood that a solid training regimen and clean diet are the best ways to achieve a strong, lean body. However, a typically overlooked area is a sound nutritional program! After doing years of research, I have found an arsenal of key supplements I take to help improve lean muscle gains, speed up fat loss and give me energy to power through intense workouts. Here are my 5 must-haves for supplemental nutrition:
1) WHEY PROTEIN
WHAT IT DOES: Whey is known to be the most digestible protein available. It breaks down quickly, dispersing amino acids to your muscle tissue. The benefit of taking in whey protein is that our bodies NEED fast digesting protein at key times throughout the day (i.e.: upon waking and before/after a workout, mainly). The typical protein-laden food we eat (think – fish, steak eggs, etc.) won’t digest quick enough to be effective. An additional benefit is that whey is believed to help increase blood flow to muscles, which is especially beneficial before workouts, so our muscles can receive more oxygen, nutrients and hormones right when they need them.
HOW TO TAKE IT: Upon waking, within 30 minutes prior to/after a workout, and/or as a snack between meals. Aim for 1g per body weight.
WHAT I TAKE: I love the Cor-Performance Whey line by Cellucor. I mix it with water as a quick snack between meals, with an egg and banana for my go-to protein pancake breakfast… I even bake with it! Favorite flavors include: Red Velvet, Cor-fetti, and Peanut Butter Marshmallow.
2) FISH OIL
WHAT IT DOES: Help support overall health – and recently stimulate fat burning.
HOW TO TAKE IT: Take 2g of fish oil three times daily, with breakfast, lunch and dinner.
WHAT IT DOES: Increase the length of your workouts, protect lean muscle tissue and prevent exercise-induced muscle fatigue. BCAAs may also help boost growth-hormone levels, reduce cortisol and increase levels of insulin, the hormone that helps replenish muscle tissue with nutrients after workouts.
HOW TO TAKE IT: Take 5-10 g of BCAAs with preworkout and postworkout shakes.
WHAT I TAKE: SciVation Xtend – I love this stuff. I use it as an intra-workout to help with endurance and muscle recovery. Comes in a ton of flavors and touts being the best-selling BCAA on Bodybuilding.com AND offers 7g per serving.
4) VITAMIN D
WHAT IT DOES: Increased muscle strength, improved immune system and fat loss support are the main benefits to taking a Vitamin D supplement (above and beyond whatever is included in your multi). Studies are also still being conducted to determine how beneficial this supplement is in strengthening breast, colon and pancreas health.
HOW TO TAKE IT: Take about 2,000 international units of vitamin D twice per day at the same time you take calcium.
WHAT IT DOES: Put simply, a multivitaminhelps to fill the nutritional gaps in your diet. Being deficient in certain micronutrients can lead to decreased energy levels, prevent muscle growth/strength gains/fat loss.
HOW TO TAKE IT: You’ll want to find a multi that boasts 100% of the daily value of C, D, E and most of the B-complex vitamins and at least 100% of zinc. Follow directions on the label (some should be taken on an empty stomach, some with food).
WHAT I TAKE: Gaspari Anavite – Finally! A multi-vitamin in non-horse pill form! Long gone are the days of me choking down gigantic vitamins, gagging and watching my life flash before my eyes as they get stuck in my throat (okay, slightly dramatic – but moreso how it went). This vitamin is designed with athletes in mind and claims to: assist in post-exercise muscle recovery, support healthy & strong bones, maximize performance, and support cardiovascular system health.
What about you? Which are your favorite supplements?
*Note: This post was not sponsored and all thoughts/reviews are my own. Additionally, I am NOT a licensed professional – please check with your physician before beginning any new nutritional program.