If you’re serious about changing your physique, you know you need to train and eat in the right manner to build new lean muscle mass while burning unwanted fat. But training hard can deplete your body of vitamins, nutrients and other compounds essential for muscle gain and fat loss. Even with the best diet possible, it can be incredibly tough to get all these vital elements – and that’s where supplements come in.
These are the supplements almost every expert and study agree should be in your fitness plan. Click the links (in alphabetical order) to look at each one in depth, including pros, cons and dosing strategy.
- BCAAs – Your body needs sufficient quantities of all amino acids in order to maximise muscle growth. Of these, the three branched-chain amino acids (leucine, isoleucine and valine) are most vital. BCAAs are a great source of protein for those who are dieting and counting calories.
- Creatine – One of the safest and most-researched supps available, creatine is vital for aiding short bursts of muscle contraction and explosive power. Great for weight training and strength sports, it is best taken after a session alongside a carbohydrate source.
- Fish Oil – Omega 3 fatty acids are integral to our general health and provide benefits in a number of areas, such as cognitive function, fat burning and hormonal output. Many of us struggle to get enough oily fish in our diet so supplementing with a fish oil supp is one way around this.
- Greens – Similarly to fish oil, you can (and should) obtain all the vital nutrients you need from a diet rich in leafy greens, but if your diet is lacking in that regard, a greens powder can make up the shortfall. As a rule of thumb, ensure your chosen greens powder contains adequate amounts of fibre, antioxidants, digestive enzymes and wheatgrasses.
- Vitamin D – In northern climates that don’t experience a great deal of sunlight during the winter, your vitamin D levels can drop dangerously low. Testosterone output, bone density, energy production and overall mood can suffer. After years of petitioning, UK public health bodies last year finally advised on its supplementation. Heed their words.
- Whey Protein – Whey is rich in the BCAAs that repair sore muscles and trigger growth. What makes it a particularly useful supp is its high quantity of leucine (the most potent amino acid) and rapid digestion. It's ideal pre or post-workout, and can be combined with casein for a meal replacement.