When it comes to sporting supplements, you’ll always be tempted to try them in order to gain a crucial edge over others, or to get over bumps in the road.
I’m telling you that as long as your nutrition is good, you have a progressive training plan, and you are ruthless, then you probably don’t need supplements at all, or at least not for a significant amount of time after you begin.
However, even if you don’t want to spend lots of money on supplements, there are five basic everyday supplements that can really boost your performance levels.
So if you are hitting the gym but feeling you are just in maintenance now despite wanting to push harder, or you just can’t shift that stubborn body fat, or make progress with muscle size or speed, whatever it is, then why not look at stacking together these five simple supplements to see what the benefits are after just six weeks?
Why You Don’t Need Supplements And Why You Might
You really don’t need supplements to get fit. Just think about it, for most of mankind’s time we have only had natural fitness. The ancient Greeks certainly weren’t taking SARMs were they.
However, in modern times we have found that certain substances can help us to perform better.
At one end of the scale you have got SARMs and steroids. Then you go down to the minor natural supplements I’m discussing here. In between that, you’ve got a myriad of specialist sporting supplements containing natural ingredients that are combined to give you a significant boost. These can be expensive.
I feel that these are the times when you might think you need supplementation:
- You are noticing your body isn’t changing
- Your endurance/stamina is not changing
- It feels like you are in maintenance mode
- People around you are making more progress
- Changing routine doesn’t change the results
Now I will say here that you should look at your nutrition and lifestyle before looking at supplements of any sort.
Is your nutrition spot on? Is your macronutrient balance correct? Within each macronutrient group, are you eating the right food?
Are you drinking too much alcohol? Refined carbs, or too much fat and fast food?
On top of that, how is your lifestyle? Are you out until late, working long hours, things like that?
So there is plenty you can do to address time, energy, and fueling your body before you even start looking at supplements. If you just go straight for the supplements all you could be doing is offsetting these problems and covering them up.
Do You Need Expensive Professional Bodybuilding Supplements?
You might need expensive professional bodybuilding supplements the following reasons:
1. Using no additional supplements but with superb nutrition, you hit a brick wall.
2. You’ve used the supplements I’m going to talk about here, and have plateaued after using those for at least six weeks.
3. If it is suspected that you have low testosterone levels. This can apply to females as well as males. If you really think the signs of testosterone drop are happening, then get yourself tested to see. There are specialist supplements out there which can boost testosterone naturally.
How To Know If You’ve Hit A Brick Wall
When it comes to knowing if you’ve hit a brick wall with your development, analysis and honesty are the crucial things. Analyze what’s going wrong and be honest about the reasons why.
So look at your nutrition. Are you really fueling your body with good carbs pre-workout, and with proteins post workout?
Are you only eating whole foods, vegetables, and lean proteins, and cutting out the rubbish?
Is your macronutrient balance correct? Too few carbs and too many proteins means not enough energy for the explosive exercise routines, and excess calories that can get stored as fat.
Have you changed your exercise routines periodically, and made sure that you are adding incremental weight, distance, or other variations to push your muscles in mind?
If all of these things have stalled, or you simply haven’t done them, then you have hit a brick wall.
If you analyze honestly, and you can see that you hit a brick wall because naturally you’ve just hit a level you can’t get past, then it’s time to try a stack of natural supplements.
If they can push you over that bump in the road, it’s possible to keep on developing just using those. Then, in the future you can make your decision on whether you want to up your game further by going for more specialist (and obviously expensive) supplements.
These Are The Top Five Easy Supplements For Performance Boost
Now we have covered the basics around why you might want to you supplements at all, and how to analyze if you should give them a try, let’s look the top five every day supplements that most serious sports people are all levels are using.
Don’t use these in isolation, stack all five together. As with all supplements, including SARMs, the power is in stacking. That way you get incremental benefits well above you could by using them individually.
Let’s start with the natural supplement that is the most contentious. Loads of people swear by using creatine, but made studies if shown negligible benefits.
It’s thought to fuel muscles during intense activity. Which means it’s good for taking pre-workout. However, it’s also not only an energy source, but can help to fuel muscle growth after working out.
So there’s no consensus on taking it before or after working out. For me, I take some before, and some after to hedge my bets.
Overall, I feel there is strong evidence that it does work. Evidence it can fuel the ability to finish high intensity activities far better, and that there is evidence of improved energy uptake post workout as well.
Around 5 g per day is recommended, so I take 2 g pre-workout and 5 g post workout.
Creatine occurs naturally in meat, poultry, and fish. You’d have to read over a kilogram of these a day though to get 5 g of creatine, which is why you need to supplement it.
Performance nutritionists who have monitored endurance programs, even those who advocate primarily food first approaches (things like good quality carbs to fuel workouts), do seem to agree that there are potential performance benefits from using it.
Because you can’t really obtain it from food, supplementing is the only way to get the 5 g per day which seems to be the golden number.
Creatine monohydrate supplements can increase strength and endurance, and help to produce a stronger muscle recovery and muscle mass growth.
So overall, I believe it’s beneficial. Take 2 g with your energy drink pre-workout, and 3 g with your protein shake post workout the best benefits.
So let’s now move on to talk about protein supplementation. This is another contentious one.
In terms of macronutrient balance, protein should only make up about 35-40% your diet. Because good quality carbohydrates fuel your body, you should be focusing on carbs pre-workout.
You’ll see guys cramming huge amounts of calories into their body post workout, and generally, by using protein shakes alongside high protein diets.
The problem is that not only does this mean excess calories that could be going into the body at the wrong time, but it also could mean putting strain on your kidneys and liver.
If you’re bulking, tons of protein is fine, but for overall sporting performance gains, whey protein supplementation post workout is all you need to do.
So how much protein you supplement will depend on your goals. If you’re bulking, up to 2 g per kilogram of body weight is recommended. If it’s just for post workout recovery and muscle fueling as naturally as possible, then a single protein shake post workout is enough.
Even if you don’t want to gain muscle, protein can help your muscle tissues to repair faster. So it’s not just about muscle growth.
I’d also suggest you look at slow-release proteins. Casein is perfect because you can take it post workout and it works slowly over a few hours, not only fueling your muscle recovery and growth, but also helping to feel less hungry if you are cutting.
Not many protein rich foods can do this. Cottage cheese is a good example, but you don’t want to be eating lots of cottage cheese late in the day (or not many of us do). Don’t go overboard with this, around 30 g of slow-release proteins going to be enough for you.
So it’s not just about post workout, it’s about having a “go to bed” supplement as well protein rich.
Around 20-30 g of casein, with a couple of grams of creatine, and maybe some glutamine, is brilliant for those rest our recovery times at night.
If you’re looking for one single thing to use to boost your workout/sporting performance levels then caffeine is it.
However, you have to be careful here. It can put strain on your heart, stop you sleeping well, and have other physiological effects as well.
Don’t just start taking 2-400 milligrams of caffeine because that is a very high dose. A single espresso is usually around 75 mg of caffeine as a comparison.
I would start by supplementing 100 mg pre-workout. 30 minutes before you start. Make sure you don’t have any caffeine the day before so you really notice the hit.
Only when you get used to using 100 mg per workout for around three weeks should you then increase the dose. I would recommend you don’t go above 200 mg.
Caffeine will deliver focus, fat burning, higher levels of endurance, delaying fatigue, and carry you through the painful post workout period.
If you find caffeine gives you the “jitters” at that dose level don’t despair. Teaming up with a 400 mg capsule of L-Theanine. That has been scientifically proven to counter the effects of caffeine, giving you a smooth rush, and a calmer overall focus.
4. Fish Oils (Omega 3)
If you want a healthy cardiovascular system and healthy mind then fish oil should be a significant part of diet.
At a minimum, you should be eating three portions of oily fish per week. Not things like salmon and tuna, but proper oily fish like mackerel.
But for sporting excellence you should supplement your natural in take with fish oil supplements.
The main reason for this is that they can help with your recovery. Fish oil improves muscle protein synthesis, and increases cardiovascular efficiency.
Omega-3 also helps to lower inflammation in the body, and has been found to counteract the pro-inflammatory side effects of omega six, which is found in meat, oils, and nuts.
The fifth supplement in the basic stack I’m going to suggest you try is beta alanine. This is the supplement most people know least about. But overall, I’d say it’s essential for when you have plateaued, when your muscles hurt so much you can’t continue, because of its ability to allow you to push yourself around 10% harder in endurance training. That allows you to build strength and stamina.
This amino acid, that is found in meat, poultry and fish, creates something called carnosine in the body.
Carnosine in muscle helps to improve overall performance levels when elevated. Studies have shown it can increase peak power by around 10% even after two hours of endurance training.
It works by lowering levels of lactic acid buildup. Lactic acid buildups in muscle tissue to protect us when we are over exerting. When you get that burning feeling in your muscles, that’s a buildup of lactic acid slowing you down.
Carnosine at moderate dosage levels allows us to push ourselves just a little bit harder, because it slows the onset of that buildup of lactic acid in the blood. The harder you work out, the more this builds up, and you start to exhaust, and you are pulled back by the pain in your muscle tissue.