What is a supplement? Many people confuse "supplement" with "replacement". This is simply not the case. Supplements can be used to aid your training, increase performance and provide nutritional support all while facilitating recovery, preventing injury and increasing growth. However, they should not be used to replace proper nutrition. Keep reading to find out what I've been taking as a 52kg powerlifter!
Disclaimer: Let's keep in mind that this is what I personally take, and these may not be suitable for everyone, and product timing can vary based on body weight, age, sex, athletic activity, goals etc....
1. New Zealand Whey Isolate Protein
Protein powders are an excellent way to hit your required protein intake for the day. Don't have time to fix yourself a lean chicken breast or a steak? (Don't forget there are tons of veggies and legumes that have protein too!!) Whey protein is a fast and easy way to feed your muscles and aid in lean muscle mass.
Morning - I usually take half a scoop in the morning to shut down the catabolic state my body was in while sleeping. This is an easy way to make sure I get the amino acids into my system as soon as possible without the carbs and fats!
Post workout - I take 1-2 scoops right after a workout, along with simple carbs (30 mins or so is the "recommended") to ensure that I boost my insulin levels to start protein synthesis by driving glucose and amino acids right into the muscle. Eat to grow, right?
No, creatine isn't a steroid and can be used by females. (Ive heard all the accusations and myths about creatine for quite some time now...) Creatine is actually just a combination of amino acids that are naturally produced by the body and found in meat; totally natural. After entering the body, it binds with a phosphate group forming creatine phosphate. To put this simply, ATP (adenine tri-phosphate) is the body's energy source. ATP provides energy by hydrolyzing a phosphate group, and heat is given off and used as energy to drive whatever reaction is taking place. When this happens, ATP loses a phosphate group and turns into ADP (adenine di-phosphate), which is basically unused in the body until it is turned back into ATP. This is where creatine comes into play! The phosphate bound to the creatine gets donated to the ADP to turn it back into ATP. Boom, magic. Therefore, more ATP = increased energy. (I hope that makes sense to the non-science backgrounded people reading this.)
Post workout - Again, insulin helps drive creatine into muscle cells. Your post workout meal should include simple carbs to help spike your insulin, so taking creatine with this meal will help get it into the muscles faster. I usually add a 5g scoop to my post workout protein shake!
3. Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)
Easily my favourite supplement to take are BCAA's. I'm normally in a maintenance or slight caloric deficit phase with my diet, so BCAA's help against the catabolic effects of dieting. The more lean the body gets, the more likely it will use muscle for energy. Also, as you diet you are increasing muscle breakdown and reducing protein synthesis, so why not stop that by using BCAA's?! BCAA's stimulate protein synthesis, as well as increase the cells capacity for this protein synthesis to happen. They also can improve workout intensity, allowing you to work harder, for longer.
I take BCAA's three times a day. I take about 5-10g in the morning right when I wake up. (Really good on ice to wake up!) Again, this is to counteract the catabolic effects of sleeping overnight.
I take BCAA's intra workout to fuel my body with energy and keep me in an anabolic state throughout my training session. This keeps me from becoming fatigued and improves my strength and power output.
BCAA's are also found in protein, so when I drink my protein shake post-workout, I additionally get about 5g of BCAA's.
These are my top three go-to supplements that I can always rely on taking. I generally have good nutrition, so I don't need to load my body with supplements that will not be used. Like I mentioned earlier, supplements are used to "supplement" your training, not "replace" anything you can get through proper nutrition.
I also occasionally take pre-workout if I need an extra boost of energy. I change my pre workout up often because from past experience, my body gets tolerant to pre-workout pretty easily. My current favourite is MyoMAXX by MyoArmour - Blue Raspberry. www.myoarmour.com/products/myo-maxx-pre-workout
Again, these are just what work best for my body (5'3, `114lb competition weight). Make sure to do your research and see if these supplements are right for you if you decide to try them!
Check out www.myoarmour.com!