The Supplement Puzzle- Part I

What is staring back at you when you walk into a supplement store? Most likely a huge wall of pills and powders that promise to blast fat, pack on dense ripped muscle and add a little boost to your performance in the bedroom. What is kept from you is all those supplements that look like they come from different companies and manufactures could actually be the same stuff from the same place re-branded with unique stickers, logos and advertising.

The right kind of supplements can improve your heart function, strengthen your immune system, reduce your beer belly and when used pre and post workout- help you recover faster. However, the wrong ones can be a complete waste of money or worse yet- potentially harmful to your health.

A recent survey found that 7 out of 10 people take supplements on a regular basis and that most of them get advice on what to take from a friend. If you have been taking supplements because someone told you to or you saw it in a muscle magazine you definitely need to read this review. With a little knowledge from someone who knows a thing or two about proper supplementation; you will waste less money, save time and reap bigger rewards.

In this 3 part series (click here for Part II and/or Part III) I’m going to outline 6 (not 16) supplements that are actually worth taking. Part I will focus on protein powders and creatine monohydrate.
 

First up: Protein Powder

 
What is it?

Powdered version of protein that mixes with water or your favorite beverage for quick energy on the go or an easy workout shake.

What does it do?

Protein is an essential component for most things in your body from skin, nails, hair, muscles, metabolism, healing, tissue repair, etc… Protein also helps to burn calories as your body uses more energy when digesting or breaking down proteins. It will therefore keep your metabolism running strong. Having protein with every meal or snack prevents over eating and keeps you full longer. This is a huge benefit to not only losing weight, but gaining muscle as most of the calories you burn will be coming from the right place- your fat stores.

Protein helps stabilize blood sugar levels by slowing the release of glucose (sugar) into your blood. This will better control hunger spikes and keep the hormone insulin from rising which promotes fat burning over fat storage.

Best brands?

Ideally, the majority of your protein intake will come from whole foods. There are times when eating chicken or steak isn’t the most convenient and a high quality protein powder can come in very handy. They taste great and are easily portable.

People generally respond well to protein powders however finding the right one for you can make all the difference. It’s important to mention that some people have difficulty digesting certain forms of protein and you might have to try a few before you find the right one. Two protein powders we highly recommend are Prograde Protein® and Sun Warrior Protein®. They are both very affordable, taste great and mix well.

Having protein powder available to you for the odd morning smoothie and for post workout nutrition will help you meet your protein requirements. When selecting a protein powder, whey isolate and casein are the best. However, if those do not agree with your digestive system there are other options available in powder form like; rice and hemp.

How much to take?

Before and After a workout:

100-140 pounds: 0.5 – 0.75 scoop of protein powder
140-180 pounds: 1 scoop of protein powder
180-230+ pounds: 1.5 scoops protein powder
 

Next up: Creatine Monohydrate

 
What is it?

Creatine exists in your body naturally, is formed from amino acids (proteins) and is stored as creatine phosphate (CP). Most people have approximately 120 grams of creatine in their body at any given time. Aside from being found in you, creatine is found in many foods we eat such as; beef, salmon and tuna which all contain 2-5 grams of creatine per pound. Needless to say, you would have to eat an AWFUL lot of steak to get 5 grams of creatine and fortunately there is an easier way.

What does it do?

Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) is the energy of life and any action we do requires us to use ATP. During short bursts of activity like sprinting or weight lifting, ATP is burned rapidly and broken down into ADP (Adenosine Diphosphate). As ATP depletes to ADP, creatine phosphate can be utilized by the body to recharge ADP and turn it back into ATP- providing more energy to be used.

By ingesting creatine monohydrate prior to or during your workout you have a bigger pool circulating for your body to pull from. Therefore, when sprinting fast or lifting weights- you can perform more work, which translates to faster gains (more muscle and less fat).

As if that is not cool enough- creatine is shown to prevent muscle wasting and is even touted as a “smart supplement”, increasing mental acuity. Doctors have been using creatine to combat various muscle wasting diseases for years now.

What does the research say?

The research supports that creatine monohydrate increases muscle mass while decreasing fat mass. It is a safe and effective supplement. When taken in low doses there is no danger to the kidneys in a healthy adult, although some sources do recommend taking time off allowing the system a chance to reset. Minimal effects in muscle gain are seen in endurance athletes such as runners and swimmers but recovery time has improved.

How much to take?

Pre workout: 3-5 grams
Post Workout: 3-5 grams

Click here for an excellent creatine product that is very affordable.

Stay tuned next week for part II where I outline the best sources of omega 3 fatty acids and whether or not you really need a multivitamin.

Stay Strong,

Drew

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