Fitness supplements have gained a lot of popularity recently. They are known to increase the muscle’s growth speed by up to 50%. Because of this, they are useful additions to your daily diet once used correctly.
Remember, you’ll have to continue eating and exercising for the supplements to work. That’s why we’ve made this guide to help you become more proficient at utilizing them.
Continue reading so you can enhance not only your understanding of fitness supplements but also how to use them to get your body in shape.
First – Check Out The Infographic
In addition to your daily diet, you’ll need supplements to help your body grow. Fitness supplements are concentrated sources of vitamins and nutrients that have used to either increase the user’s consumption or release chemicals that create positive biological effects.
Supplements are known to include fiber, vitamins, amino acids, fatty acids, or minerals, amongst other substances. The U.S. authorities regard fitness supplements as food while other countries classify it as either drugs or other products.
Fitness supplements can be digested in multiple ways. They are sold capsules, tablets, liquids, and pills in measured doses. For first time users, we suggest that you start with capsules and pills as they are easier to digest.
There are more than 40,000 fitness supplements that are available. About 53%-55% of the US population alone consumes fitness supplements with the most popular ones are in drinks and multivitamins.
Other supplements include shakes and meal replacement bars that are sometimes used for weight loss. Making sure that your daily nutritional needs are met through a healthy diet and supplements will reduce the risk of chronic illness.
But there is a common mistake that novice gym-goers make. Fitness supplements are not a replacement for an entire meal. You have to have at least 4-6 meals a day to ensure that you’re getting the right amount of nutrition.
Multivitamins have the most comprehensive and largest list of ingredients. These ingredients include Vitamins A, C, B complex, and E as well as other important minerals such as iron and zinc.
You might only need one supplement if you are lacking in one nutrient. Examples include Vitamin B-12, Vitamin C, or iron. Some supplements are used to support specific life stages. For instance, doctors might recommend Vitamin D and calcium for older people wanting to exercise.
Not every supplement has nutritional value. Product made with herbs, tea, and other botanical ingredients should not replace your regular nutrients.
Read your herbal supplement labels carefully. Most are advertised as disease prevention supplements, but there is no scientific evidence to back up their claim. These products don’t contain the important nutrients, so they aren’t effective fitness supplements.
Remember, fitness supplements are made to help you, but there’s a chance that they cause more harm to your body. Overdosing is a major concern for any supplement. Having an excessive amount of Vitamin A will result in bone loss.
Before getting dietary supplements, take a blood test and find your dietary needs. If possible, ask your doctor about their recommended supplements and if they will interact with your medications.
The use of animal glands and herbs as medicine date back to the early origins of humanity. The first written record of herbal records was written on six thousand-year-old clay tablets.
The Sumerians were the first group to create herbal medicine. They lived on the Euphrates and Tigris river which is currently Iraq. Their clay tablets show the usage of multiple medical plants such as opium, licorice, mustard plant, and thyme.
In the U.S., their medical history dates back to European settlers and Native American Indians. While they used glands and herbs as medicines, it was not as much as the Asians.
And while there is a multitude of important drugs that come from herbs, such as Digoxin, a useful heart drug, from a Digitalis plant, most Americans tend to shy away from herbal remedies when synthetic medicine is available.
Before 1990, every dietary supplement was strictly regulated by the FDA (Food Drug Administration) and included only vitamins, proteins, and minerals. In 1990, the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act included herbs and other natural supplements. But, the FDA still had control over the pre-market approval.
By 1994, a law was made that drastically changed the fitness supplement marketplace. The Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) stated that supplements such as fish oil, ginseng, and hormones and steroids would also fit into the dietary supplement category.
More importantly, the DSHEA removed the FDA’s strict control over fitness supplements. Health officials refer dietary supplements as a virtually unregulated industry. Because of this, users need to inspect the quality of their supplements to ensure they’re safe and suited to their nutritional goals.
Even though fitness supplements are made to help you, you have to be careful. Having an excessive amount of vitamins can cause long-term damage to your skin, bones, and reduce your bodily functions. Here are the pros and cons of using fitness supplements:
Understand that supplements were made to help your body grow quickly. Take a look at these benefits to see how fitness supplements can positively affect your life.
If your diet lacks a considerable amount of vitamins and minerals, fitness supplements will help you get the nutrients you need. Adult women need at least 46 grams of protein a day while males only need 56 grams.
By eating fish, eggs, meat, beans, seeds, nuts, legumes, most adults don’t have issues meeting those requirements. Athletes and vegans who want to build muscle might need extra protein, which is found in fitness supplements.
After eating, your body breaks down the proteins, carbohydrates, and fats from the meal, and absorbs other nutrients into the meal. The absorption of these nutrients relies on a multitude of vitamins such as Vitamin B, that must be consumed daily.
Supplementing your daily diet with Vitamin B prevents multiple deficiencies such as skin disorder, anemia, and nerve damage. Using supplements will help you improve your metabolism which also helps in quick digestion and weight loss.
While an adequate amount of nutrition intake is useful for all age groups, using supplements is highly beneficial to senior citizens around 50-60 years old. Antioxidants are known to have a positive impact on cognitive function and eye health.
As we age, our bodies take a longer time to produce the amino acids we need. This means that it will take longer for your body to heal after an injury. Because of this, fitness supplements are beneficial because they help the elderly receive their daily nutrition requirements.
Having an adequate amount of nutrition affects your skin condition and supports muscle and lung functions. In fact, Vitamin D reduces the chances of falling in older people. Also, supplements in some studies improved elderly patients’ immune function.
Studies have also shown that Vitamin E decreases upper respiratory infections within senior citizens. Due to these reasons, older adults are required to use mineral and multivitamin supplements.
Some experts advocated that senior citizens receive a basic mineral supplement and vitamins in nursing homes. This reduces the amount of inadequate intakes and helps senior citizens live longer.
We recommend that every senior citizen start with a simple exercise and diet plan. This will help you keep your body in shape and protect you from receiving injuries. Take your supplements at least 3-4 times a day to achieve noticeable results.
For children, supplements are necessary to help them transition into healthy adults. Calcium and Vitamin D help build an optimum amount of bone growth in both children and adolescents. Using supplements at an early age slows down the deterioration of your bones as you age.
Even if you’re an adult, you should still consider taking supplements. Fitness supplements help your muscles grow faster and improve the density and strength of your bones.
Consuming dietary supplements will assist in tissue repair and maintenance, processes that occur throughout your life. Your daily activities place a strain on your body’s tissues. Specialized cells inside of your body generate proteins that create healthy tissues that replaced damaged and old tissues.
Defects in tissue maintenance and repair lead to deficiencies such as osteoporosis. This occurs as users age as your bones start to deteriorate as you age. You can promote proper tissue growth by adding Vitamin D and calcium to your diet.
Fitness supplements are helpful in helping a woman’s nutrient needs during their pregnancy. For instance, prenatal vitamins and minerals are prescribed to ensure that both the mother’s and the baby’s needs are met.
In addition to meeting nutrition requirements, fitness supplements prevent birth defects.
A myriad of data shows that mothers who take 400 mcg of supplemental folic acid for 1-3 before conception and 1-3 months after conception reduces the risk of the baby receiving neural tube defects (spina bifida). In most studies that show these results, the required amount of folic acid was consumed as a multivitamin supplement.
Studies have shown that consuming fitness supplements might reduce the risk of cancer. Vitamins such as Vitamin C, A, and E, acts as body antioxidants. They neutralize chemicals called free radicals which are known to cause oxidative damage to your cells.
While studies on the effect of antioxidant supplements actually preventing cancer have been proved inconsistent, consuming a moderate amount of antioxidant supplements might be beneficial towards your long-term health.
Fitness supplements such as protein shakes are popular with people trying to lose weight or gain muscle, as well as others trying to lose body fat. These supplements are great if you need extra protein and want to increase your intake when food isn’t available. However, there are a few disadvantages you should know before buying one.
Most fitness supplements are low in calories, containing a small amount of fat and carbs; they are similar in calories to chicken breast or a can of tuna. Other supplements might have hidden calories which leads to unnecessary weight gain.
You’ll want to watch out for fitness supplements that are higher in calories. If your supplement has over 200 grams of calories and 17 grams of sugar, then it might be causing more harm than good.
A high intake of fitness supplements — around 2-3 servings a day — can result in a high exposure to metals. This is due to the cross-contamination that occurs during the manufacturing process.
If you drink protein shakes regularly, reduce the intake to only 1-2 shakes a day. Make sure to include natural proteins such as fish, beans, dairy, and meat.
Using food to provide your daily nutrition is cheaper than buying supplements. On average, a serving of protein powder can cost up to $0.94 to $2.69. This means that you’ll receive a good deal with some brands while paying an excessive amount of money with others.
Fitness supplements are cheaper once you buy them in bulk. However, this can mean paying a large lump sum of money at one time.
Before you waste money on supplements, you have to understand the different types. Here is a list of the vitamins and minerals that you should consider:
Proteins are large macro molecules or biomolecules that consist of one or more chains of amino acid residues. Proteins perform various operations within our body such as DNA replication, catalyzing metabolic reactions, and responding to stimuli.
Once created, proteins last for a short amount of time. Then, the proteins are broken down and recycled by your cell’s system through a process called protein turnover.
Proteins can last for minutes or years and have a maximum lifespan of 1-2 days in mammal cells. Misfolded or abnormal proteins degrade faster because they are unstable and are targeted for destruction.
Your body needs a sufficient amount of protein to survive. Every organ, including your skin, is made from proteins, such as your muscles, nails, and hair.
Most hormones are proteins and your digestive system, immune system, and your blood relies on protein to function properly. Therefore, protein is an essential and necessary part of your diet, bodily functions, and development.
For children and adolescents, proteins are crucial for their growth. As they grow into adults, they’ll need proteins to produce tissue.
Protein is categorized into two types: complete or incomplete. You’ll need both to create a good diet. As we’ve stated earlier, protein consists of 20 amino acids that serve as building blocks.
Meat and fish are quality forms of proteins as they consist of 9 amino acids. But, meat can be high in fat, so you’ll have to choose your meat proteins carefully.
For instance, a 5 oz hamburger with 80% lean beef contains 21 grams of protein. And it consists of 12g of fat, 73 ml of cholesterol, and 5 g of saturated fat. When searching for meat proteins search for lean cuts such as round and loin.
In fact, choose meats that have white meat instead of dark meat. You also need to use low-fat cooking tactics such as broiling and grilling. Fish is usually high in protein, but some options such as shrimp, are high in cholesterol.
Most plant products (except soybeans) don’t provide a complete source of protein. This is because they are missing one or multiple necessary amino acids. However, plant products like pinto beans have at least 15lbs of protein in one cup.
Combine plant based products with other proteins to fully utilize your diet. For example, you can combine beans with corn, seeds, nuts, to provide the whole 9 amino acids in your body. Most nuts and some beans contain a sufficient amount of protein.
If your goal is to grow muscle, then you’ll have to take a gram of protein for each pound of weight. For instance, if you weigh 200lbs you’ll need over 200 grams of protein to feed your muscles energy.
People that are on modern diets take more protein that’s necessary. A simple way to think about protein is by giving it a percentage of your daily diet. An average healthy diet looks like this:
- Proteins: 25%
- Carbs: 25%
- Vegetables and Fruits: 35%
Once you exercise more, your appetite increases. This means that you’ll have to eat more to maintain your current body weight. The 25% protein rule is a general guideline. Make sure that your protein intake is proportional to other nutrients to help your body grow naturally.
Lastly, protein supplements are available for users trying to gain muscle. Powdered milk (whey) and soy-based protein supplements are the most common forms. Before buying a protein supplement, make sure that it’s from a verified manufacturers to ensure you’re getting the most out of your nutrition.
Without amino acids, your body is unable to create or process protein. Their most important function is to store and transport all nutrients (fat, carbohydrates, water, vitamins, proteins, and minerals).
Glutamine is an amino acid that keeps the skin healthy and regulates your acid-base balance. It creates skin cells and reduces aging. That’s why having a balanced diet gives you clear skin. An unhealthy and unbalanced diet will lead to hyperacidity which destroys your internal cells and tissues.
Also, glutamine helps with strengthening your hair and the immune system. They are required for nucleotide synthesis, where the cells divide at a rapid rate. Hair follicles depend on glutamine to keep its shine and continue growing.
Arginine is another essential amino acid that needs to be apart of your diet. It’s important in the treatment of high blood pressure and heart diseases. Arginine energizes the immune system, increases the male libido, and improves blood circulations.
Additionally, arginine helps reduce the concentration of ammonia in the body. Ammonia is a toxin that’s made through the creation of protein. Insomnia is a main symptom of ammonia and it prevents people from getting a proper night’s rest.
With Arginine-rich supplements, you can reduce the amount of ammonia in your body. Simply put, using arginine detoxifies the ammonia and helps you sleep normally. Thus, you should add some Arginine in your diet to keep your body in good condition.
Ornithine is an amino acid that serves as a compliment to Arginine. Combined with Arginine, Ornithine stimulates the body’s insulin production and hormone distribution. As a result, it improves the body’s regenerative functions and increases male potency.
Under regular conditions, your body can produce amino acids alone. However, constant stress, malaise, or illness and stop its production. We recommend that you eat foods that are rich in both ornithine and arginine to stay healthy.
Food such as meat, dairy products, fish, wheat, and soy are rich in ornithine. Alternatively, you can take amino acids in capsule, powder, or tablet form. No matter which form you take, make sure that it fits your diet and doesn’t cause any unbalance.
Steroids are organic compounds that have four rings that are arranged by molecular configuration. Examples include testosterone and sex hormones (estradiol).
Steroids have two main purposes. First, they are used as signaling molecules that help that activate the steroid hormone receptors. Secondly, steroids are main components of your cell membranes and help your cells alter your membrane fluidity.
Use steroids with caution. An excessive amount of steroids suppresses the natural growth rate of testosterone in the male’s body. Side effects include infertility, reduced sperm production, baldness, and a decrease in testicle size.
Steroids can be either androgenic/anabolic or corticosteroids. Anabolic steroids are produced by the body and are used to regulate the testosterone hormones found in the testes and the ovaries.
The androgenic part is used to develop and create male sexual characteristics such as facial hair, deeper voices, and enhanced muscles. The anabolic part increases protein production to increase the body tissue amount in your body.
Both anabolic and androgenic steroids are sold in pharmacies as prescription medications. They are to be used when the body is unable to produce a sufficient amount of hormones.
While these medications are legally prescribed through health care providers, they are often used illegally in sports. Steroids can be used to improve the body appearance and athletic performance. But, this is known to give athletes an unfair advantage and is banned from the sports industry.
Corticosteroids are found in the adrenal glands and are located above the kidney. These hormones have aldosterone. Aldosterone helps regulate cortisol and sodium within the body. Common corticosteroid medications include:
These medications can be taken via intramuscular injection or by mouth and can be used to treat diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease, asthma, and rheumatoid arthritis. Speak to your doctor before using them to prevent these side effects from occurring.
Creatine is a popular supplement that’s used to increase muscle mass. It’s a substance that’s typically found in our muscle cells. Creatine helps by giving users enough energy to complete intensive exercises and do heavy lifting.
Chemically speaking, creatine shares similarities with amino acids. For example, your body produces creatine out of amino acids such as arginine and glycine.
Creatine works by turning into creatine phosphate. Next, the creatine phosphate creates a substance called ATP (adenosine triphosphate). With ATP, your body produces enough energy to do muscle contractions.
95% of the creatine you intake is stored inside your muscles. While the other 5% is stored in your kidney, liver, and brain.
Creatine is a popular source for athletes from high school to professional sports, especially gymnasts, hockey and football players, and wrestlers.
Creatine is known to aid in muscle recovery, growth in lean mass, and an improvement in functional strength. This boost can help athletes achieve boosts of energy and speed, especially during activities such as sprinting.
Your creatine intake will depend on the form of digestion. For creatine monohydrate, doing a phase of 5 grams of creatine at least 5-6 times a day will increase your muscle creatine levels up to 40% in less than a week.
However, research also shows that creatine can lead to similar muscle increases, but will take at least a month to work. That’s why it’s important to undergo a loading phase when using creatine.
A loading phase helps users receive the most benefits out of creatine supplements in a short amount of time. Once the loading phase is completed, you can continue to use 5 grams of creatine 30 minutes before and 30 minutes after a workout.
Research shows that taking creatine around workouts maximizes the user’s creatine muscle mass accumulation. In comparison of taking creatine around the day, you’ll gain more out of it when your muscles are actively working.
Multivitamins are a dietary prescription supplement that consists of vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals. They are available in the form of a capsule, tablet, liquids, powders, and other injectable formats.
For beginners, you should start with multi vitamins. They are the cheapest supplement to obtain and can be easily taken with your diet. Basically, use multivitamins to start and then move to more supplements such as creatine and protein shakes once you get the hang of it.
Some beginners tend to take their supplements whenever possible. However, this is not the correct way and you’ll end up losing muscles in the long-run. Here are some tips on the optimal times to take supplements throughout your day.
Timing is the key when taking pre workout supplements. So make sure to read the labels before using it. On average, you should take your pre workout supplements at least 30-45 minutes before entering the gym.
That being said, you also have to think about your location before taking pre-workout supplements. For example, you should not take pre workout supplements as soon as you leave the door if you live 15 minutes away from the gym. Chances are you’ll get stuck in traffic and ruin your workout plan.
If you are short on time to create custom pre workout blends, you’ll start to get lazy with dosing accuracy or start seeking shortcuts. Don’t follow these time-saving methods as they’ll yield negative results.
Alternatively, you can encapsulate your pre workout pills. Doing this ensures that you’ll receive the proper dosage and avoid these complications.
If you’re worried about having enough time to mix your supplements or receiving the right dosage, then you should purchase pre workout pills.
Buying pre workout pills saves you time and prevents you from encapsulating them or mixing powders. You should take pre workout pills because they are easy to store and prevents the need for scales or scoops.
After an intensive exercise, your body needs supplements for faster muscle recovery. This means that your body has at least 45 minutes to obtain nutrients.
The nutrients you consume have to work fast, so it’s best to drink a whey protein shake. Also, you’ll need BCAAs to maximize your muscle’s protein synthesis. Make sure to use creatine and beta-alanine to refuel and prepare your muscles for the next workout.
Once you’re done exercising, you should add casein protein to your shake. Casein is a slow digesting protein that extends the muscles’ protein synthesis operations to enhance results and recovery.
When exercising, your body uses up a great deal of glycogen. You’ll have to add carbs to your muscles quick in order to keep them energized.
Any food containing fructose won’t reach your muscles fast enough, so you’ll want to avoid foods such as table sugar and fruit. Here are a few vitamins and minerals you should take during your workout to increase energy, stamina, and muscle growth.
Taurine is a natural amino acid that assists your physical and neurological functions. It’s used for nutrient regulation, such as salt and water – which is lost once you sweat during training. If you ever received a muscle cramp during or after training, it may be because of an imbalance between these two components.
Also, taurine helps you with muscular contractions. This helps you maximize the pressure and stress you place on your muscles while training.
Taurine is used to improve mental focus. When used during a workout, taurine helps you stay focused on your task. Plus, it delays the psychological stress and fatigue that occurs during a tough gym session.
Throughout your workout, your body will sweat profusely. This can lead to a loss of nutrients and fluid imbalance in your body. You sweat contains multiple electrolytes such as magnesium, sodium, taurine, and potassium.
Without these nutrients and you are exposed to muscle spasms, cramps, and even dizziness. Keeping the ideal balance of these nutrients will help you exercise longer without experiencing any negative sound effects.
While you might take some caffeine before going to the gym to start your session, adding caffeine during your workout is proven to prolong this energy. Caffeine helps stimulate the nervous system, increases your endurance, and allows you to do additional reps.
Caffeine is the most beneficial in major muscle groups that have more motor units, such as the back or quads. It works the best for long training sessions and endurance activities.
Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)is used for people who want to lose fat. When we workout, our muscles tissues break down during training and we repair this through proper nutrition. However, you can use BCAAs to kick-start this process during your workout to achieve optimal results.
Your body’s protein source is fueled by amino acids. BCAAs such as isoleucine, leucine, and valine takes up 30% of your muscle tissue. This means that you’ll want to have some of this throughout your workout to keep your muscles growing properly.
BCAAs are also great for those wanting to grow muscles on their body. The right breakdown for it is a 2:1:1 ratio. This means that you must intake 2 parts leucine for every part of valine and isoleucine.
Leucine is used to aid your body during protein synthesis, making a great ally if muscle building is your main goal. Valine supports glucose transport, protein synthesis, and central nervous system stimulus. Isoleucine helps the glucose uptake within your body.
Let’s face it; you’re putting your health at risk when buying counterfeit supplements. Not all supplements are made equal; so you’ll have to research every supplement that you plan on buying.
The first thing you want to do is check the quality of your supplements. Most scam supplements tend to sell their products on eBay. When buying from these unverified sources, you’re rolling the dice and can potentially ruin your health.
That’s why you need to buy your supplements from a trusted health practitioner or a verified manufacturer as soon as you can. Make sure to read the labels on your pill supplements before buying. Call its customer service number and ask more about the product.
Most companies will give abstract and uneducated answers about the nature of their products and how they are manufactured. If they don’t know anything about the supplement, chances are they are a scam.
Frankly, there’s a lot of internet manufacturers that don’t even list an address or a phone number. This is a perfect sign of counterfeit supplements and you should avoid it at all costs.
Bottom Line: If you think that a supplement is fake, then don’t buy it. And if the supplement is very cheap, it’s probably a counterfeit.
The customer never lies. It’s important to check the testimonials of each supplement before buying. When searching online, check the star rating of the supplement. If it is below 3.5 stars, then you’re buying a fake product that’s inefficient to your nutritional goals.
You’ll also have to look out for fake reviews as well. If the testimonials seem nonauthentic, that’s because they are. Check the validity of the testimonials as well to ensure that you’re buying a supplement with good quality.
Another way scammers make a dishonest living is by buying expired product for cheap. Then, they’ll change the expiration dates and resell them as a cheap “new” product on the market.
Legitimate supplement manufacturers have sales where they’ll sell their products before the expiration date. Counterfeiters like this because it fits their business model. They can buy verified and legitimate products and sell counterfeit supplements to trick the consumer.
This occurs in multiple ways; the counterfeiter will replace the older label with a newer one and give it a fake expiration date. Or if they received the expired supplement and mix it with fake capsules and tablets.
Bottom Line: If scammers can make a few dollars off of a product they will. And by buying an expired supplement, they can have the “genuine supplement” on hand if someone files a complaint.
To protect yourself from this, you have to check the manufacturer. Only buy directly from the source to ensure that your supplement is made before the expiration date. Not only does this protects you from scammers, but helps you get the right supplement that you need.
The Holy Trifecta for Muscle Growth is nutrition, exercises, and supplements. Many first-time gym goers believe that they can gain muscle using only one or two of these methods. However, this mindset will net you negative results and you won’t see any gains.
Before working out, you need to have a good diet plan. Is there any unhealthy junk food that you eat regularly? Replace them with healthier alternatives (fruit, vegetables, etc.) to ensure that your body gets the fuel it needs.
And, you’ll have to watch your calorie content. Have a set goal of calories you need to eat daily. In regarding quantity, you need to eat at least 4-6 times a day to see results. Having a good diet will help your body grow before, during, and after your workout.
Then, you need to find a workout plan that’s suitable to your fitness level. You’ll need to workout at least 3-5 times a week in order to see results.
Lastly, you have to add supplements into your daily nutrition. To protect yourself from getting scammed, buy one that’s from a verified manufacturer and check its contents before using it. Take 2 supplements a day after each meal to give your body the extra boost it needs.
To conclude, fitness supplements are a great addition to your daily diet. They contain healthy chemicals such as BCAAs and proteins to generate more muscle growth and recovery.
But there’s more information that you’ll need to know about fitness supplements. You have to find the best one that applies to your current health conditions. We invite you to look at our buying guide so you can find the best fitness supplements that you can add to your daily diet.