Sports supplements for dummies: what, when and how to take them

GUEST POST by rocqup Personal Trainer, Dee Herde

This week I take a look inside the vast world of sports supplements, which can get people feeling lost and confused, particularly if you believe everything you see on the labels. The sports supplement industry however is set to be a $60USD billion dollar industry by 2021, so there’s definitely something good going on under those lids, which I’ll aim to break down in the least scientifically boring way possible.

The first thing you need to know is that supplements are there to supplement a healthy diet and workout regime; they are not a wonder product you can take to grow gigantic muscles or drop buckets of weight without lifting a beautifully manicured finger. For those willing to put in the effort to get the most out of sports supplements, below are the most common types available on the market today:

Protein Powders

Protein aids in the growth, maintenance and repair of muscle. It has an undeniable influence on performance, strength and a person’s body composition. The majority of what you’ll find on the market is derived from milk products, but there are also vegetable/plant protein powders available for our vegan friends, along with beef-based protein powders for meat enthusiasts. Now keep in mind, before you go over-heaping the measuring cup: the human body can’t store protein and will excrete excess once you’ve reached your maximum daily intake, so follow the recommended dosage on the label and don’t go overboard.

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Mass Gainers:
These are for people looking to bulk up and add muscle size. They are high in both protein and calories and ideal for time-poor people to maximise their caloric intake with a quick and easy shake. A weight gainer mix not only promotes muscle growth, but it also feeds your body the right type of carbohydrates to make sure you’ve always got fuel in your tank and favourable fat levels to support hormones, improve the health of your joints and keep immune function at optimal levels.

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Whey Protein:
These come in either a concentrate, isolate or hydrolyzed formula and are the most common type of protein powders available. Whey protein helps build muscle while aiding fat loss and is absorbed into your body relatively quickly.

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Casein:
This type of protein powder slowly releases the protein over a long period of time and is taken either before bed or in between meals. It can increase the feeling of fullness, so you’ll feel like you’ve got a full stomach – without all the extra calories.

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HOT TIP: For some awesome protein-rich recipes, check out BodyBuilding.com’s 5 Sweet, Creamy Protein Breakfast Recipes.

 

BCAA’s/Amino Acids

Amino acids are our muscles’ building blocks and can help with muscle gains, fat loss, increased energy, delaying fatigue, supporting the immune system and according to a study out of Milan, increase your life span. This is one supplement you don’t want to leave out of your shopping basket!

Fat Burners

Fat Burners help promote fat loss, improve your energy levels and enhance your metabolism. Some have stimulants added while others are stimulant-free. A great stimulant-free fat burner is L-Carnitine, which is naturally found in red meats and avocados and will be in almost every type of fat burner on the market.

Green Tea

Green Tea is another great workout buddy that gives you a natural energy boost. It’s great for people who don’t want that ‘bounce off the wall’ energy hit that often comes with workout drinks and supplements. Next are the part fat burner / part pre workout supplements. These products have all the great ingredients like L-Carnitine and Green Tea extract to aid in fat loss, but also have a big energy kick like a pre-workout drinks do.

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Creatine

Creatine is the most researched supplement on the market that still gets the occasional bad wrap from misinformed skeptics. Creatine can enhance aerobic performance and recovery, increase bone mineral density and improve brain function, with research being conducted into the potential benefits of creatine for sufferers of Diabetes, Parkinsons, Huntingtons, ALS and Alzheimers.

The Big 5

These are the main 5 types of supplements that the majority of gym goers should know about to assist them in achieving their fitness goals. In addition to these, there are Testosterone Boosters, Estrogen Blockers and Carbohydrate Powders, which contain individual ingredients from all of the above, along with many more that give people an extra boost in reaching their physical peak when following a complementary exercise and food regime.

With so much money flying around the supplements industry for marketing these days, be smart enough not to fall for the next wonder product without doing some research of your own, taking into account your personal circumstances.

If in doubt, check with a PT at your gym and make use of the live chat features available on most supplement company websites to ask questions about any products you plan on purchasing. And as always, follow the directions on the label to achieve the best results.

HOT TIP: You don’t need to spend big on brand name protein shakers – pick up a BPA-free clip-seal plastic shaker bottle from Kmart for as little as $5.

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Don’t forget…

Always keep in mind, these products are designed to help supplement healthy eating and a steady exercise regime – if you’re spending hundreds of dollars each month on supplements and wondering why you’re not getting the same results as this guy from sitting on the couch, it’s time to have your exercise program reviewed by a fitness professional to identify where the gaps are and learn how to make the most of the supplements available to you.

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Written by Dee Herde
D-Mand Fitness
rocqup Personal Trainer
Diploma in Fitness
Level 1 Strength & Conditioning Coach