I started incorporating supplements into my workout routine in 2013, at that time Instagram was not as popular as it is now and there was no one to guide me on what to get, the benefits and how to use it. I did the good ol' Google research but it didn't help me much because I couldn't relate or visually see someone with my body type/goals for reference.
Throughout the past five years I have spent thousands of dollars on supplements. They are definitely an investment and although you do not need to take them, if you have specific goals- adding supplements can help you achieve and sustain them along with proper nutrition and exercise of course. I have purchased supps from Target, Costco, supplement stores- you name it, I may have tried it. When it came to protein powders I sure did have a lot of failures, some tasted absolutely horrible! If possible, get samples and try before you buy. Ki, owner of Circle Nutrition Center in Long Beach is by far the best nutritionist and one of the kindest human beings. If you are in the area, he is always more than happy to help and has samples available.
If you are new to supplement intake and would like to incorporate it into your regime, I would recommend BCAA's and protein to start off with. If you don't need the caffeine kick then pre-workout is not needed. If you do choose to take a pre-workout, please remember to test your tolerance, most have very high caffeine dosage which may cause high blood pressure, headaches, nausea, itching/tingling sensation. Start off with 1/4 or 1/2 of the recommended serving amount on the label and take more if needed.
BCAA's. (Branched-Chain Amino Acids):
- stimulates muscle protein synthesis (the metabolic process in which your body makes new muscle protein.)
- helps prevents muscle break down
- reduces fatigue during workouts
- reduces soreness
- helps build muscle while burning fat
- helps build strength
- may boost up your metabolism if taken correctly
- can be used as a meal replacement (I wouldn't recommend replacing half/all your meals with protein shakes)
My experience with with both have been positive and I have seen better results when I incorporate them into my routine. In 2016 I was at my heaviest and knew I needed to make better choices with my nutrition and be more consistent with my workouts. I gradually lost weight without using any supplements, after losing 20lbs I felt as if I was in a plateau. I was eating well, doing cardio and lifting weights but my body wasn't toned and defined. I was in the "skinny fat" if you want to call it phase. At the beginning of this year Jan 2018 I started taking supplements again and it has definitely made a difference now that I am consistent with it again. I feel as if I perform better during my workouts, I became stronger and when I poke my quads/stomach/etc it feels toned now instead of soft.
If you are thinking about adding supplements into your routine I would definitely recommend that you work on being consistent with your nutrition and workouts first. I want you to understand that supplements are not magic and that if you do not put in the hard work in the gym and kitchen, it will defeat the purpose of you buying supplements. Remember that supplements will add value to what you're already doing- it alone will not be a solution to your health and fitness goals.
Hopefully this post gave you a better understanding of supplements, I wanted to make it as simple and digestible as possible. If you have any questions please feel free to leave a comment in the box below. :)
In health and happiness,