Anyone who has worked out for a good period of time will eventually ask the question “What supplements should I be taking?” With the constant advertising of miracle pills and people like Mr. HalfSquats telling you what you should take there is a lot of (bad) information out there. Here is a no bullcrap list of 3 supplements that you should at least consider taking. All of these supplements have been proven to work with actual science.
Protein Powder/Whey Protein-I think most people have this one figured out. The general recommendation for athletes or people who work out is anywhere from 1-2 grams per pound of body weight; I usually recommend around 1 gram per pound of body weight. Do note that not all of this needs to come from protein powder, in fact most of it should come from whole food choices like lean meat, eggs and other good protein sources.
Creatine Monohydrate- Creatine has huge benefits, especially for strength athletes. It is one of the most researched supplements out there. There is no reason not to be taking it. Creatine monohydrate is the cheapest form of creatine and to my knowledge no other form has been shown to be more effective at a statistically significant level. Creatine helps with ATP (energy) production. See reference #1 below to read more about the benefits of creatine. Recommended dosing is 5-7 grams a day.
BCAA- Also known as branch chain amino acids. The 3 amino acids that make up BCAAs are leucine, isoleucine and valine. These 3 aminos play a huge role in protein synthesis and slowing down protein breakdown. Sipping on a BCAA drink will help preserve muscle mass during workouts and speed up recovery (#2).
That is it guys and gals. Those really are the only 3 supplements I take all the time and that I recommend to all of my athletes and clients. There are some extra things like coffee and/or caffeine of some kind and I usually mix my BCAA’s in gatorade while I workout, but those are not needed all the time. This industry loves to over complicate things, and it is not needed. Are there other things that work? Sure, and please do your research on them, but these are the basics. Just keep things simple.
Train hard, fuel smart and BeStrong,
#1- Cooper et al.: Creatine supplementation with specific view to exercise/sports performance: an update. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 2012 9:33.
#2- Howatson et al.: Exercise-induced muscle damage is reduced in resistance-trained males by branched chain amino acids: a randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled study. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 2012 9:20.