You see them in the health food stores, in gyms and on the internet in all kinds of forms – pills, protein powders and sprays. Nutritional supplements seem to have become a ubiquitous component of the fitness lifestyle, yet many of us view them with a guarded approach because we don’t know what they do and or which ones are right for us. So, here’s the skinny on some of the most common supplements on the market today and how they can help you reach your fitness goals.
“The vast majority of the supplements that are available today are meant to fill a nutritional void that will either meet the normal intake of vitamins and minerals that you need to stay healthy, or help you take your fitness program to the next level,” says Charles Carter, certified personal trainer and LiveLeanToday.com president.
Join just about any fitness or diet program and the first recommendation you will receive is to add a multivitamin supplement to your daily routine. The primary reason for this is that the vast majority of Americans are falling far below the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of vitamins and minerals.
Truth be told, even when following the government sanctioned food pyramid, it is difficult to fulfill RDA recommendations, and let’s face it, the daily allowances of leafy green vegetables just aren’t making in to most of our dinner tables. The recommendations are meant to serve as a guideline for providing our bodies with the vitamins and minerals we need to consume on a daily basis to maintain optimal health levels. Vitamin supplements provide a safe and effective way to bolster your vitamin and mineral intake so that you can spend less time hunting down the best source of zinc and more time working on your other diet and fitness goals.
“The multivitamin is the easiest and most prevalent supplement available on the market today,” says certified personal trainer and LiveLeanToday.com CEO, Bryan Thomas. “I’ve been training people for 8 years, and it is the hardest supplement to get my clients to use because there is no visible result from taking it. And yet, it is a fundamental component to a healthy body that only takes seconds to include.”
Increasing Your Metabolism
Once you’ve answered your body’s need for the essentials, supplementation can assist with a variety of fitness goals from weight loss, to meal replacement, to performance enhancement.
One of the most common and most controversial varieties of supplements that people see in the general marketplace is the weight loss supplement. Essentially, the goal of weight loss supplements is to give you a boost by increasing your metabolism. While there are many varieties on the market today that use different methods to meet this end, many people who take them report increased energy levels and do see a visible weight reduction. While there can be some side effects, and you should consult a doctor before using any weight loss supplements, they are consistently the top sellers among the fitness supplement category.
Keeping Your Metabolism High Throughout the Day
While many people yearn for a higher metabolism, most don’t realize that in order to keep your body burning at a higher rate all day long, you have to feed it several small meals throughout the day and provide it with enough calories that your body doesn’t think that it needs to store fat.
Nutritional shakes have a long history within the supplementation marketplace for helping people reach their caloric needs without interrupting their busy lifestyle. Shakes provide a fast and easy solution when you can’t take time out to fit one of your five daily meals in.
Of course, as a person continues to build muscle and raise the body’s metabolism, daily caloric needs continue to increase until some body builders and athletes literally need to consume up to 6,000 calories per day. There are shakes for these individuals, beginners, and all levels in between. The key is not to choose the wrong one.
Since there is such a large range of meal replacement needs, when you purchase a shake powder, the easiest way to choose the product that is right for you is to shop for the one that suits your needs based on satisfying one meal of your targeted daily calorie consumption.
Providing Building Blocks for Your Muscles
Popular among trainers and professional athletes alike, are amino acid compounds, especially the glutamines. These are the key building blocks in your muscles.
Every time you work out, you actually break down your muscle tissue to some extent. While amino acids are naturally present in your body already, taking an amino acid supplement increases your body’s ability to rebuild and recover after your workouts.
Amino acids, such as glutamines, are not something that you can increase by changing your diet. They are primarily created by your body, so once your body’s production of these essential building blocks has topped out, supplements provide the sole means of bolstering availability to your muscles.
“People chronically underestimate the effectiveness of an amino acid supplement,” confirms Carter. “I’ve personally seen the simple addition of an amino supplement take a top rower, who was always somewhere in the middle of the pack to being the number one rower in our country and on our Olympic team.”
According to Carter, when you make sure that your body has the increased aminos that it needs, you can increase your workouts and without increasing your recovery time. A side effect that those of us who are not professional athletes also enjoy is that the aminos help you build muscle faster, helping you raise your metabolism for better weight loss.
Seeing a Big Difference, Fast
While an increased metabolism, vitamins, minerals and amino acids will help keep your body operating efficiently while you work out and recover, supplementation can also provide you with a level of energy and strength that you didn’t even know you had. While this level of supplementation includes a vast variety of products with varying degrees of credibility, one product that is consistently recommended by trainers for its safety and effectiveness is Creatine.
Creatine is a chemical that is found in your body naturally at some level. It is responsible for providing you with fast energy and power. Unfortunately, it is in limited supply, so once you use it, you have to rest while it regenerates.
Creatine supplements, in the recommended doses, provide fast energy, allow you to push yourself harder during your workouts, and have not been linked to any short- or long-term damage to your body. Creatine is not a steroid or hormone supplement.
“Creatine helps you tap into an extra energy system,” asserts Ashbaugh. “After working out with Creatine, the majority of people feel like they’ve only been working out at 75% of their capability without it.”