Top 3 supplements that we all need for fitness

If you are reading this article, I am assuming that you are one of those people who are serious about fitness. You would probably be at a place where you’ve figured out that your gym workouts are just stimulation and it’s mostly what you put in your mouth that matters. Whether your goal is to bulk or cut, you need to find the sweet spot in your diet plan where your body listens to you. And trust me, it is not easy to get it right as it requires you to consume specific nutrition at specific times of the day. This is exactly the reason why supplements were introduced. To make life simpler. But is it making life easier? That’s a topic for another day! With that said let’s analyze what supplements can help you with. Although most nutritionists consider supplements to be a subset of food, they never vouch for it to be a meal replacement. Have you ever looked at Ronnie Coleman or Jay Cutler and told yourself “Man I am going to get that big one day!” and suddenly there are people at your gym trying to con you into believing that it is possible only with supplements? Well, you are not alone! It is quite common for anyone who has not done their research or obtained a degree in nutrition or medicine to misunderstand what supplements can and cannot do. The contribution of supplements to effective muscle building is hard to identify. This is mainly because developing a good physique like Eddy Ung or Justin Firgaira takes more than just popping a hand full of supplements. INBA/PNBA athlete of the year 2018 Adrian Pietrariu says, “Making hard choices every day and seeing gradual improvements every year is a philosophy everyone should follow.”. The supplement industry is valued at $101 billion and has plenty of supplements to choose from. While people go for supplements based on their goals and needs, let’s look at the top 3 supplements that I think are required for any fitness freak.

Photo by Gesina Kunkel

Protein:

As we all know and time and again heard that, higher protein intake better your chances to get buff. Well let me tell you something, this works well for any mode of fitness, which means, higher protein intake can be beneficial irrespective of what your goal in fitness is. Protein, carbohydrates, and fat make up the composition of the macros out of which protein is a very important component that helps in muscle building. This is because protein is made of amino acids and the amount of plasma amino acids in the bloodstream will ensure that the body doesn’t break down your muscle to get it when in need of it and in-turn promotes Muscle Protein Synthesis (MPS). With that being said let’s see what are the types of protein that are available as supplements out there. There are 7 different types of protein namely soy, rice, pea, egg, hemp, whey, and casein. The 2 famous types in the industry are whey and casein protein. They are famous just because it is widely accepted that the quality of amino acid profile is excellent and they have contrasting absorption characteristics that are required by our body during various times but otherwise you can choose your source of protein, based on your food choices. Whey protein is fast absorbing making it the preferred form for to be consumed immediately after a work-out session since this would greatly support in Muscle Protein Synthesis (MPS), wherein casein protein is very slowly absorbed by the body making it a choice before bed which will retain your body in an anabolic state. There are 3 major types of whey protein which are Whey Protein Concentrate (WPC) with lower yet significant levels of fat and lactose and a protein concentration of roughly 80-90%, Whey Protein Isolate (WPI) with <10% fat and lactose and >90% protein concentration and finally Whey Protein Hydrolysate (WPH) probably the best form of whey protein source which is partially hydrolysed for better mobilization.

Photo by Michele Blackwell

Fish oil

Considered to be an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, fish oil can be very beneficial in various levels. Omega-3s are a part of essential fatty acids that cannot be produced by our bodies and hence you must consume it as a part of your meal. It is predominantly found in fatty cold-water fish like herring, tuna, anchovies, and mackerel. The 3 main Omega-3 are EPA (EicosaPentaenoic Acid) and DHA (DocosaHexaenoic Acid) and ALA (Alpha Linoleic Acid) and are available in varying ratios depending on the source. DHA has been found to reduce triglycerides level and increased HDL (which is the good cholesterol) which as a product reduces LDL (bad cholesterol), also, owing to a 40% and 30% contribution in the total polyunsaturated fatty acids in brain and retina respectively, DHA has been found to provide substantial benefits for brain and eye health. EPA reduces cell inflammation. ALA is found in vegan sources that have to be broken down by the body to EPA and DHA to be made useful. Consuming fish every day can be challenging due to reasons like cost and food preferences. Therefore taking it in supplement form can make it easier to hit your RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance) which is roughly 1.6g for adult males and 1.1g for adult females (values for pregnant or breastfeeding women will vary). Fish oil comes in 2 different forms; Ethyl Ester and Triglycerides. While there are many studies out there stating why one form is better than the other, there are scientific literature supporting the fact that there are no big differences in bioavailability or absorption if the supplement is consumed in either form for around 2-3 months which is when the maximum effect of omega-3 is observed.

Photo by Amanda Jones

Zinc Magnesium Aspartate

No, ZMA is not a testosterone booster! Science says that your immune system is supported by Zinc, your metabolism and muscle health is improved by Magnesium and the absorption of both these minerals are catalyzed by aspartate. Well, those are pretty good for you if you didn’t know. This is because, with all the benefits of ZMA, you can enhance athletic performance, build muscle and stamina, and better muscle recovery after a strenuous work-out session. Maybe these are the reason why most people think that it some sort of an enhancement drug. Although these are a pretty solid reason why you should consume it, it has to be taken with some caution. Excess Zinc or magnesium can cause diarrhea, cramping, and nausea which can be detrimental. Zinc has an RDA of 11 mg for adult males and 8 mg for adult females (values for pregnant or breastfeeding women will vary) while magnesium has an RDA of 400 mg for adult males and 310 mg for adult females (values for pregnant or breastfeeding women will vary). 

As I have mentioned before it’s good practice to consume your nutrition through whole foods which are safer and better for you. However, when you are unable to reach your goals you can take the help of supplements to give you a push. All content in this article is advantageous for most healthy adults it is strongly recommended that you consult a physician before consuming supplements of any sort. Your current physical condition decides which supplements you should and shouldn’t take. I do not endorse any specific brand and strongly recommend that you buy your supplement from a registered vendor/seller (you can find this in all manufacturer’s website). What do you think about these three supplements? leave your comments below!

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