There are thousands of supplements on the market; all of which seem to have extraordinary claims.
The truth is, there are a small handful that have been scientifically proven to ‘work’ or be of any benefit to us. After we have our list of what works – there is cost and reward to consider. Is spending your money on them worth the proposed benefits? And are these supplements going to reach your goals? These questions narrow the list even further!
If I were to write an article on supplements specific to EVERY goal, I’d be here a long time – so I’m going to keep this list specific to gym-goers who are looking to lose weight, tone up, build muscle, or just be generally healthier.
If your diet and training are on point and you are a perfectionist that wants to get that extra 1% or 2% – consider the list below. Here is a quick summary of supplements that might help you:
- Protein shakes
I don’t really consider protein shakes a supplement – and neither should you. It is more of a convenient food product than anything else. If you’re using it to help you hit your daily protein requirements then you have the right idea. Outside of this, they have no magical benefits.
Per gram of protein they are relatively cheap, so might be of benefit if you are trying to tone up, build muscle, or maintain muscle.
- Creatine Monohydrate
Woah that’s a scary name! Sounds chemical! Before you get your knickers in a twist: it is found naturally in most meat products, much of which you eat on a day-to-day basis. It is also the most researched athletic performance enhancing supplement on the market – so you could say we know a lot about it! Without giving you a lecture in biochemistry or energy systems, 5g per day is going to supply your muscles with some energy to help complete that extra rep or two, be more explosive, and help you sustain your high intensity efforts for a little longer. This extra performance benefit can therefore help promote a modest increase in muscle mass provided your training and nutrition are in order.
It’s super cheap, so if your goal is to improve high intensity sports performance, increase strength, speed, or muscle mass it is without a doubt the first one you should consider.
- Fish oil
Performance wise, this isn’t going to get you any world records – however the current research indicates a HUGE range of health benefits. It’s been shown to aid pretty much every single organ in the body, and on top of that it is also cheap. If you don’t already get much fish in your diet, I see no reason not to grab some.
The main reason they’re often recommended is because there is no strong evidence that they’re harmful to you, and they are a cheap ‘safety blanket’ or ‘insurance’ when your diet hasn’t been perfect (we’re only human after all). If you’re a perfectionist when it comes to getting all the right nutrients and vitamins that your body needs, it might be worth taking to ‘fill in the gaps’ when you didn’t quite get enough variety of fruits and veggies that day.
Bonus round – popular supplements that are a waste of money/have exaggerated claims!
-Branched-chain amino acids (BCAA’s).
-Fat burners (for the most part, especially in habitual caffeine users).
-Any supplements that claim to ‘burn fat’
-Any other supplements that claim to ‘build muscle’
Wrapping it up – FAQ
In 1 years time – am I going to be significantly leaner/healthier/in better shape taking these supplements?
Probably not. 5 years consistently? Potentially. Remember – these are here to supplement your training and nutrition and should by no means be a priority. The impact these supplements will have on your results are relatively minute compared with your training and nutrition.
Are there any side effects of taking these supplements?
Sometimes, yes but not very often. The risk of having adverse side effects is probably similar to the risk of side effects occurring after taking paracetamol or ibuprofen. Most of you will be fine, the small minority (>1%) might experience some. None mentioned have any negative long-term health implications; in fact most will have positive health implications.
Which brands should I take?
The difference between brands is mostly marketing, so going with cheaper options is usually the way to go.
My friend recommends ‘X’ supplement and says it works for him, should I take it?
‘It works for me’ is usually a red flag. The supplements listed have been proven by multiple subjects across multiple studies in a controlled environment. Your friends’ opinion unfortunately holds zero merit.
Better Body Group Sevenoaks