Really they are.
A lot of women are under the impression that it’s only blokes looking to get massive muscles that need supplements.
While many guys do take supplements for this reason, it doesn’t work like that and they have a place in most peoples diet if regularly training.
SO ARE YOU TAKING ANY?
If not don’t panic, you might not need them at this point (diet and training should be first priority).
However if you are going to the gym regularly, working out at high intensities, lifting heavy weights and pushing yourself for progress then some supplementation could help you with your goals.
In this article we’ll look over some basic supplements that can help with recovery, performance and general health.
Supplements can be great in addition to a health balanced diet. There is no need to go mad with supplements and most are a waste of money if you are already eating well. If you are not eating well then supplements are never going to replace that gap in your diet.
If you are new to training it can be easy to get to enthusiastic and start buying and taking anything under the sun to make a ‘difference’. Problem is if you are taking everything, how do you find out what actually works?
The key is to start small and add as you feel necessary.
So if you have been training consistently this year, then now may be a time to start dipping your toes into the supplements pond.
This week we’ll look at
There are many more out there, but these basics can help with recovery, sleep and performance.
Protein powders come in various forms. The three common ones are Whey, Casein and Soy protein.
Whey Protein is the most commonly used type in protein powders, it’s a complete protein and contains all 9 essential amino acids and is low in lactose content. The body absorbs it very quickly so it’s a good choice when looking to get protein in quickly (after training or first thing in the morning)
Casein is a slower digesting protein, making it ideal for taking just before you go to sleep so that it delivers essential nutrients throughout the night.
Soy Protein also contains all the essential amino acids (necessary for our dietary needs) and is a great alternative source for vegetarians and vegans.
WILL IT MAKE ME BULKY?
Cakes are going to make you bulky far quicker than a protein shake or increasing protein from foods.
It takes years of effort, discipline, determination and genetics to build masses muscle. You won’t even get bulky from lifting heavy weights. Women don’t have the testosterone needed for it, no bodybuilder achieves their physique by accident or by drinking one to many shakes!
Instead what is more likely is you’ll support lean, sexy muscle that creates that toned and curvaceous physique so many look for.
SO WHEN SHOULD YOU TAKE PROTEIN??
Regular exercise will normally increase calories burned (if done effectively) and this will result in muscle being broken down. So it’s only normal that you’ll require more protein to help repair that muscle tissue and replenish the nutrients your body needs.
So taking protein after training can be a big step in recovery, growth and performance. Many people miss this with training or don’t feel like eating. A shake can really help here for convenience and due to the quick absorption rate by the body.
Taking a quick digesting protein shake in the morning with your breakfast is a good way to get essential nutrients after your night of fasting. Especially if like many of the population your breakfast is lacking in protein and you can’t face a cooked meal.
Even if you have been training for years without protein, if you make a changes to your workout then it may be needed. This could be things such as moving from 30 minutes per day to 1 hour, or preparing for a marathon (yes this still requires repair, it’s not all about the weights!). Maybe you have just stepped it up and started seriously working out for the first time (so many people know they’re not putting in much effort) your body will require more protein for building and repair.
If you are “dieting” then protein can help you meet your fat loss goals. Taking in more protein often aids with fat loss efforts as it increases satiety, may slightly speed up metabolism and makes it easier to stick with a low-calorie diets.
Another reason could be a big shock to the system. It’s a lifestyle change many seem to be making for health, the animals, the environment, or just for the taste?
GOING VEGAN (I’m not going to rant about this, it’s becoming a popular choice but so many do so without thinking of protein sources!) A protein powder may well be necesary to ensure you meet your protein needs.
JUST A SHAKE?
Now protein powders don’t always need to be consumed with water or milk you can include them in smoothies or even cook with them (just make sure you use unflavoured protein and select a mixable brand!). There are some good books out there to that include protein in baking, desserts and even main meals.
You can also get other protein supplements such as bars, crisp and even ice cream.
There are so many debatable protein guidlines of how much per body weight, how much is too much etc. Don’t worry!
Protein does not harm the liver or kidneys, but it can exacerbate pre-existing damage. People with damaged livers or kidneys should exercise caution when increasing protein intake quickly without the guidance of a doctor.
Now if you take too much, your body will not use it for repair but store it as fat. Which wil probably be counterprductive to your goals!
So instead focus on getting protein into every meal. Have protein after training and an hour or so before if your last meal was a long time beforehand. If you want to get more specific, cool, but this should be enough of a guidline for most.
Most people could do with more protein in their diet.
If you are training and not taking a protein supplement, this could help with repair and performance.
Shakes can make an ideal convenience when making or eating a proper meal is not manageable.
ALL SUPPLEMENTS ARE AS STATED, SUPPLEMENTS! They should not be used instead of real food sources, but as an addition to improve your diet. While they are not necessary they can be useful and tasty!
OMEGA-3, GOOD FAT!
Don’t be afraid of this little gem of a fat!
Here’s how it can benefit you and why you may need to supplement them in your diet!
Essential Fatty Acids have to be ingested from food as they are not naturally produced by the body.
The three types of omega-3 fatty acids involved in human physiology are alpha-linolenic acid (ALA, found in plant oils), EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid, both found in fish oils).
Over the years there has been a dramatic change in the ratio of omega-6 and omega-3 fats consumed our diet. (less fish in our diets and more vegetable oil and grains)
This change, perhaps more than any other dietary factor, has contributed to many illnesses.
An individual needs more omega-3 than omega-6, our typical diets provide dramatically higher levels of omega-6 than omega-3, our average intake is between 10 and 25 times higher than evolutionary norm.
What can this imbalance lead to?? Well, the list includes (but isn’t limited to):
type 2 diabetes
irritable bowel syndrome & inflammatory bowel disease
HOW CAN OMEGA-3 HELP YOU?
They can curb inflammation in the blood vessels (and the rest of your body).
At high doses they also make abnormal heart rhythms less likely and lower your level of blood fats called triglycerides.
They can also help reduce plaque buildup inside blood vessels, helping with blood flow. So they may help prevent stroke caused by clots or a blocked artery.
A diet high in omega-3s has been shown to have anti-inflammatory affects on the body and improve the effectiveness of anti-inflammatory drugs.
If in doubt about your current health, talk with your doctor before taking omega-3 supplements, because some types can make your “bad” cholesterol worse.
WHAT ELSE CAN I DO?
Omega-3 supplementation can help bring around a balance to the above issues, along with ditching processed foods and concentrating your diet around healthier ‘real’ foods.
Focusing on less eating out of boxes and packaged meals and you’ll be onto a winner! Several common sources of omega-3s are fish, walnuts, broccoli, so it’s not all about taking pills!
THE MAGIC OF ZMA
A mis-understood product, some think it’s a testosterone booster, some look upon it as steroids!
LET’S PUT THESE MISTAKES TO REST.
ZMA – Zinc Magnesium Aspartate
ZMA is a natural mineral supplement made up of zinc, magnesium aspartate, and vitamin B6. Nothing crazy within this formula, just vitamins and minerals your body uses on a daily basis.
THIS COMBINATION CAN LEAD TO MORE EFFECTIVE RECOVERY, MUSCLE HEALTH AND SLEEP.
Although you should be able to achieve adequate levels of these through a varied diet, those who regularly train will lose more vitamins and minerals through perspiration and prolonged muscle contraction than non training populations.
WHY ALL THE TALK OF TESTOSTERONE BOOSTING?
Zinc supports your immune system and muscles, but there are no stores for this in the body which often leads to deficiency.
If men are deficient in Zinc they may experience lower testosterone levels and even impotenece. By taking in more Zinc, these symptoms can be reversed or allieveated.
So while it is not a hormone, (it’s a mineral) Zinc has gained it’s reputation for “testosterone boosting” as many companies use this as a selling point.
It will only raise testosterone level for those with a Zinc deficiency and will not heighten normal levels of the hormone. SO FEAR NOT LADIES!
WHAT ELSE IS IN IT?
Well there’s also Magnesium and Vitamin B6.
Magnesium is involved in metabolism, the health of your muscles and can help manage sleep and recovery. So very important areas if you are training.
Both Zinc and magnesium are minerals that can be hard to achieve adequate levels of in a typical diet, especially if you are regularly involved in exercise. (Weight training in particular!)
Some of the roles these minerals are involved in are immune function, hormone regulation, cognitive function, protection against oxidative stress, normal protein synthesis and sleep.
Quite a list of benefits for those looking to recover after a hard gym session! Just helping these factors alone can lead to a reduction in tiredness and fatigue, as well as improved recovery from exercise. WINNER!
Now let’s talk about the B6.
Vitamin B6 (or pyridoxine) helps the body make neurotransmitters, these chemicals carry signals from one nerve cell to another. This is needed for normal brain development and function, so it’s pretty useful stuff. B-6 also helps your body convert food to glucose, plays a role in the metbolism of fats and proteins, and helps ensure proper function of your nervous system.
Vitamin B6 is also involved in producing the hormones serotonin and norepinephrine. these can influence mood. It also helps produce melatonin which helps regulate the body clock, thus the reccomended timing of taking ZMA are usually around 30 minutes before going to bed and another reason it is linked with sleep.
If you have a deficiency it can also effect the role of the amino acid Tryptophan, this can limit the amount of serotonin in your body which leads to disturbed sleep patterns and insomnia. So keeping yourself topped up on B6 can help prevent sleepless nights in those with deficiencies.
LETS ROUND IT UP.
This is no super drug or answer to those with medical issues.
But if you are training regularly, this could help your recovery.
DON’T TAKE TOO MUCH THOUGH!
Too much of any vitamin or mineral can cause serious problems and high doses will not be beneficial and could lead to dietary and medical issues. (SO STICK TO THE DOSE ADVISED) Depending on the brand etc, 2-4 tablets are usually recommended, 2 tablets would most likely be adequate for Females.
Hope I have helped to broaden your knowledge on supplements and put some myths to rest. If you liked this then share with a friend or subscribe to my newsletter below?!
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