By Myprotein Ambassador Alexander Pauwels
Supplementation is one of the biggest topics in the health and fitness industry today.
Different goals require tailored supplements to reach specific goals, however, it is important that nutritional deficiencies should be fixed first before adding any supplementation to your diet!
Vitamin D and Magnesium are two very common vitamin/mineral deficiencies in the North and amongst sporters.
A lack of Vitamin D will not only result in a less effective immune system, but your bone strength and mass will suffer… and even your testosterone!
If you are unable to get access to plenty of sunlight, make sure you get your vitamin D levels checked and supplement with Vitamin D3 if necessary.
Magnesium is a high nutrient deficiency of many people in the West, more specifically amongst athletes. This is due to magnesium being an electrolyte lost from the body through sweat.
Increasing this nutrient in the body is shown to reduce fatigue, maintain normal muscle function and also increase insulin sensitivity, resulting in stable blood sugar levels and increased energy levels.
Top 5 supplements
1) Omega 3
If there was just ONE supplement recommendation I would make to virtually everyone it would be Omega 3 from fish oil!
Most people’s omega-6 intake is very high compared to their omega-3 intake.
Omega-6 is found in the more ‘popular fats’ – red meat, eggs, nuts, most cooking oils, etc, whereas Omega-3 is found in fatty fish, flaxseed, chia seeds, etc.
The ideal ratio of these two should be close to 1:1. With many people it is as far off as 20:1 (omega-6:omega-3), meaning a higher degree of internal body inflammation, slower recovery, more stress and a host of other health problems.
Fish oil benefits
Fish oil is one of the most researched supplements and the number of positive benefits are almost endless:
– Decreased inflammation
– Increased joint health
– Improved brain function
– Improved mood
– A lower susceptibility to depression
– Healthier blood vessels
– Lowered blood lipid counts(fats)
– A decreased risk of diabetes and some cancers etc.
When supplementing with omega-3 it is important to get in a high-dose of the active ingredients DHA and EPA. Super Omega-3 is very high in these.
I would even recommend a fish oil supplement for purity above real fish these days (herring, anchovies, sardines and salmon) with the seas being so polluted full of heavy metals and toxins – a sad reality. The nutritional profile of farmed fish is a lot worse to what that of wild fish is – farmed fish are not fed the same as wild fish.
Fish oil alternative
Another alternative are plant-based sources of omega-3 like flaxseed and flaxseed oil.
Whilst these are great I would not get my entire omega-3 intake from these as there exists some evidence that many plant-based omega-3 solutions are oestrogen promoting (the female hormone).
I recommend upwards of 3-6 caps a day for most men and upwards of 2-4 for most women. As a physique athlete I personally supplement upwards of 10- caps of omega-3 a day.
…Are such doses necessary? Perhaps not, but my health, recovery and blood markers are pretty awesome!
Next up at the top of the list… Creatine!
If we did not make creatine inside of our body already it would be called a SUPER VITAMIN.
Not only does Creatine help to increase strength, power and aid in faster recovery, it also has neuroprotective (brain) and cardioprotective (heart) benefits… It’s even recently been shown to help against depression.
Believe it or not, stronger evidence exists of creatine increasing testosterone than most compounds found in most testosterone boosters on the market (which mostly only either help people low in testosterone reach normal levels or which only provide a libido increase).
Pretty much all the research on creatine is positive.
You sometimes hear about creatine causing water retention. Yes it does, inside the muscle cells – which is what you want! Not beneath the skin. This gives your muscles a harder, fuller look.
Creatine can be taken year-round – about 5 grams per day.
Impact Whey Protein Powder definitely holds a spot in my top 5 supplement list.
Whey Protein Powder is one of the cheapest and most convenient forms of protein – whey specifically is fast absorbed, meaning that it will stimulate protein synthesis and aid in muscle recovery faster than many other protein sources. This is why it has repeatedly been shown beneficial to supplement with post-workout.
You may like to take it at other times of the day too, or mix up your protein intake from other protein powders too (hemp, rice, egg, casein, etc.). I’m a massive fan on diversify nutrient intake!
A good ball-mark is 0,4-0,5 grams of whey protein powder per kg of body-weight supplemented post-workout.
4) Beta Alanine
Next up, Beta Alanine!
This supplement has gained popularity fast the past few years due to the positive effects it has on increasing physical performance, enhancing recovery and decreasing muscle soreness…
You’ll be able to get out a few more reps at the gym in your sets!
Build up your intake to 2-3 grams pre-workout – when you feel the tingling sensation in your skin you’ve found your dose.
For maximal effect get in an additional 1-1.5 grams spread out at 2 other times daily.
Finally, I’m personally quite a fan of Citrulline Malate.
It increases increase nitric oxide production, increasing muscularity and blood flow –> better pumps.
It also reduces fatigue, improves endurance and aids in the removal of toxins and built-up ammonia which are by-products from physical activity.
Citrulline is BETTER at increasing Arginine than L-Arginine supplementation itself by the way.
6-8 grams minimum pre-workout. Take it 30 – 60 minutes before your workout.
An interesting side-effect is that it also decreases erectile dysfunction (caused by high blood pressure).
A bonus recommendation for people who are lean, have plenty of muscle mass and those who have intense training sessions and want to get even leaner on a caloric deficit:
You guessed it – BCAA’s!
Consuming these tablets or powder form (either is good!) both pre and intra-workout will prevent muscle breakdown, therefore enhanced growth!