The world of supplements is HUGE. There are supplements for almost everything you thought you knew, and probably a ton of supplements for things you didn’t even knew existed.
A lot of supplements that are being sold do work.
They do help you recover faster from your workouts and they do aid in muscle growth – thus leading to faster gains.
But a lot of supplements that are being sold does NOT have any evidence to back up their claims and there are a ton of supplements that claim to provide some sort of benefit but that might be based on one (or few) studies that really were not that conclusive.
So we know that it’s very easy to feel confused in what supplements to get, why, etc.
It’s also VERY easy for some people (been there, done that) to go overboard and buy (and use) too much.
This very first article in our brand new “training and nutrition” section here at Gym Quotes aims to help remove some of the confusion on what supplements to use and help you make a more informative decision on what to get.
But before we head on to the top 3 list of our favorite supplements to make gains and to aid in muscle recovery we just want to point out that the best physiques are built by primarily two things:
Intense and hard training and dedicated nutrition.
Supplements are supposed to complement your nutrition. It’s something you ADD. Supplements are just that. Supplements.
So make sure you eat well first (and that’s a whole separate subject), where what you eat and how much should depend on what you want to accomplish. And train as hard as you can. Then.. On to the supplements!
Number 1: Whey Protein.
The number one on our list is protein. And specifically whey protein.
Why? Because if there’s one thing that most of us do not eat enough of, then it’s protein. Carbs and fats are usually the two things we eat most of, while neglecting high quality protein sources when we choose food.
So taking a protein shake once or a few times every day (for someone active in bodybuilding, weight lifting, crossfit or fitness) makes sense. A lot of sense.
Whey protein supplies the body with high quality protein and amino acids that helps the body recover faster and initiates anabolic (growth) process. Whey protein (pre workout) helps you minimize muscle damage and loss of muscle while consuming whey after a workout will improve muscle recovery and overall growth.
Some of the main benefits of whey protein are:
- Fast digesting.
- More easily absorbed (compared to other protein sources such as Casein, etc)
- Aids in the the recovery process which might lead to an increase in muscle mass (especially taken after your workout)
- Can help with making you feel less hungry when dieting.
How to take whey protein:
- When: Pre-workout to ensure you have protein in your body, post-workout to feed your muscles and aid in recovery and basically throughout the day.
- How Much to Take: 20-30 grams.
Number 2: Branched-Chain Amino Acid (BCAA)
Everyone seems to be using branched-chain amino acids, from weight lifters to bodybuilders to crossfit athletes and there’s good reason for that. The three BCAAs: Leucine, valine and isoleucine have been shown to stimulate protein synthesis, minimize muscle damage, help regulate protein metabolism and a lot more!
There are two main reasons why we use BCAAs and why it’s on the list: increased protein synthesis and reduced protein breakdown.
Some studies show that BCAAs might even stimulate muscle protein synthesis more than taking a “normal” or “complete” protein by itself. But without going too deep into the science behind branched-chain amino acids, simply put we take BCAAs to reduce muscle damage (from our workouts) and to increase muscle growth. That duo effect is what makes BCAAs so damn good. It can help reduce the damage you inflict on the muscle from your workout, and it can help boost recovery as well.
We love the energy and increased stamina we feel during a workout by taking it pre workout and we then either drink it during a workout and/or afterwards to aid in recovery.
Since we prefer taking whey after a workout, we tend to use BCAAs before and during.
There’s really nothing better to quench your thirst in the gym than sipping on a yummy BCAA drink. Oh yes!
However, a lot of people take BCAAs throughout the day, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Instead of drinking your juice, coca cola or whatever you like drinking during the day, try sipping on a delicious BCAA drink instead. Your body will thank you! 😉
Some of the main benefits of BCAAs are:
- Decrease in muscle damage (workout)
- Decrease in muscle soreness (not everyone experiences this but a lot do)
- Increase in endurance (workout)
- Increase in muscle protein synthesis
How to take BCAA:
- When: Pre-workout to reduce muscle damage and to aid in performance, during a workout and post-workout to aid in recovery. You can also sip on BCAA throughout the day.
- How Much to Take: Anywhere between 6-10 grams per serving.
Number 3: Creatine.
Creatine is one of those naturally occurring substances within our muscle cells.
It’s also one of the main sources of energy for our cells.
It helps your muscles produce energy during those heavy and intense weight lifting sets or high-intensity exercise.
Creatine is without a doubt one of the most popular supplements among athletes, people in fitness and bodybuilders in order to make those muscle gains, increase strength and improve performance.
When you take a creatine supplement, you increase your stores of phosphocreatine.
Phosphocreatine is a form of stored energy in the cells, and it helps your body produce more of a high-energy molecule called ATP.
ATP is one of the body’s (muscles) main energy sources. The more ATP you have, the better your body can perform during exercise.
Creatine is a PROVEN (and natural) substance that you can take if you are interested in increasing your strength which will ultimately (together with hard training and a healthy diet) help you make gains.
Some of the main benefits of creatine are:
- An increase in muscle strength
- Increase in blood flow.
- Increase in performance (during high intensity training and heavy lifting)
How to take creatine:
- When: Pre-workout to boost your performance. Post workout to refill.
- How Much to Take: Around 5-12 grams depending on your body weight. We like to take 5 grams PRE and 5 grams post workout.
So there you have it. Our top 3 supplements to help you recover faster and make those gains. Protein (whey) to feed your muscles (and they really need that protein to grow), BCAAs to perform better in the gym, and to decrease muscle breakdown as well as increase muscle recovery and creatine to boost your performance in the gym (which together with a good diet and intense training will lead to faster muscle gains.)
Now this is NOT a complete list by any means. These are our OWN favorites. But we feel that these 3 are some of the BEST supplements you can take regardless if you are trying to gain muscle mass and make those gains or if you are trying to shred and get rid of some fat.
And last but not least, what brand should you choose when you buy supplements?
There are a TON of companies out there and many actually use the same sources for their products. Some brands are more well known for their quality, while others are not. Do some research. But what we like to focus on is the quality of the ingredients and in what amount.
So a good whey contains the highest quality whey. The same goes for creatine. When it comes to BCAA some companies are a bit cheap and gives you less BCAAs and the proportions are not ideal. We like those that are maxed out and also with a bit of glutamine added to the mix.
Like we said, there are a ton of companies out there, so choose carefully.
One of the companies we like are BPI sports. Give their products a chance if you haven’t and please do use our code “GYMQUOTES” for a massive 20% off. You can find them here: BPI Sports Supplements