More than likely if you partake in nutrition and fitness to any degree you have tried a few dietary supplements. While they are very useful, a proper diet, workout plan, and enough sleep are 10 times more important for optimal growth. Only when those aspects of your life are intact and stable will supplements be a good idea to help you push a bit harder in the gym and supplement your already healthy and controlled diet.
With all that being said, for those who do meet the requirements to take supplements, there are a lot to choose from! Sometimes it can be overwhelming to go into a store or look at a website with hundreds of products as a beginner and choose something to try at random. In this article, we will be talking about where to start supplement-wise in a simple and basic fashion, especially in the spring and summer months we are currently in.
Let’s Start With Spring
Even though we just left the flowers blooming and rainy spring, this is a good place to start our list off. More than likely if you are planning on slimming down for your July trip to Mykonos, spring is when you will begin transitioning from a bulk to a cut. This means less calories, more cardio, and getting weaker. None of that sounds ideal, but nobody said it wouldn’t be a lot of hard work.
A basic supplement that almost everybody uses and that will become more useful around this season is protein powder. Since protein powder is very low in carbs & fat and high in protein, this should be your main supplement to help you hit your daily macronutrient goals.
Why is this so important? Because your protein shouldn’t change of course! Besides slightly decreasing the dosage to correspond with your weight, your protein levels staying high every day while your calories continue to get lower will become increasingly hard. With over 20 grams of protein per scoop, usually costing you no more than 120 calories, this supplement is a very important tool for any dieter. Whether you need one or two scoops or more a day, don’t be afraid to make a few shakes or add it to your oatmeal to hit your macros.
Another supplement that you will want to start using around this time is nitric oxide boosters. Otherwise known as L-arginine, L-citrulline, and others, these supplements might have appeared on the label of your pre-workout powder before. Without getting too scientific, these supplements dilate (basically the same as relaxing and widening) the blood vessels in your body and allow more blood to flow to your muscles. This is why these supplements are better known as “pump products”, and are very popular with bodybuilders. Since you will probably start upping your rep ranges, these supplements will give you a good morale boost as they will help you feel bigger and more vascular in the gym.
After beginning a diet it is easy to quickly lose motivation as the lack of a calorie surplus will result in feeling flat and looking worse than when you were bulking. These products (taken as a standalone because most pre-workouts don’t contain enough to be effective) will help you feel better in the gym and have the added benefit of speeding up your recovery and nutrient uptake after a workout as well.
It’s finally here, what you’ve been training for all spring. You have been dieting for a few months now and are getting into the hard months, complete with low carbs, hours of cardio a week, and no motivation to go workout.
This is where our next supplement will shine. As you might’ve guessed, it is caffeine! Whether you choose to get yours from pre-workout, a pill, coffee/tea, or an energy drink, this stimulant is essential for giving you energy when you need it most.
Of course since it is calorie free, the only thing you need to worry about is your tolerance. Some can handle 400mgs easily, but others can barely have 100mgs without getting jittery or headaches. It is up to you to read nutrition labels and tailor your dose accordingly to your unique tolerance. It might have some metabolism increasing benefits, but the main reason you will want caffeine this deep into a cut is almost always to get you to the gym for that morning cardio or after work lifting session.
Another big issue far into a diet is muscle loss, which is going to happen to some degree no matter what as a natural lifter. Luckily for us, there are supplements out there to help mitigate the amount of muscle you lose and help you retain as much strength and size as possible. These supplements are amino acids, the individual molecules that make up protein we eat.
The important aminos for muscle retention in a calorie deficit are BCAA’s (branch chain amino acids), more specifically leucine. This amino acid is the most important by far for building muscle as well as preventing your body from using it as fuel in a calorie deficit (also known as catabolism).
For those who want to take this anti-catabolic effect even further, a supplement known as HMB exists which is actually what part of leucine breaks down into in the body. Since HMB is the main metabolite of leucine for preventing muscle loss, it is somewhere between 10 and 20 times more potent at preventing muscle degradation (meaning a gram of HMB is about the same as 10 grams of leucine at a minimum).
Whether it be to supplement your morning fasted cardio or intermittent fasting routine, HMB will make dieting much easier when used correctly and at the right times.
Take Home Message
Unfortunately, the colder months when bulking and building muscle would’ve been the main topic of discussion but I had to skip these as this article is already long enough! Maybe in a few months when fall comes around I will make a part two to this article… But until then, hopefully this article will help you know where to begin in your supplement related dieting goals! Of course they are not essential to getting the look you want, but supplements can definitely help streamline the process when utilized properly.
Now don’t be afraid to meander around the rest of the Myprotein site and find a protein powder or nitric oxide booster supplement that will benefit you the most in this upcoming summer season!