When it comes to getting results from your workouts, the primary drivers are consistency, solid planning and recovery. However, supplements can give you an edge in pursuing your goals. Whether you need a boost to get going, a convenient protein source to fill in nutritional gaps, or a recovery aid to get you through to your next training session, the benefits of sports nutrition supplements can go to work for you.
Are workout supplements good for you?
Workout supplements can undoubtedly contribute to a healthy eating and fitness plan, but not all supplements are created equal. Check for quality assurances and your desired ingredients before purchasing. The right supplements can round out your health and wellness regimen in the following ways:
1. They can provide energy
Feeling energized for a workout is best obtained through a proper night’s sleep —but life often gets in the way, and sometimes, we need a little extra pep in our step. It’s good practice not to rely too heavily on stimulants like caffeine, but using stimulating ingredients a couple of times a week is OK, especially if your sleep and recovery habits are up to par.
Look for supplements with ingredients such as:
- Caffeine — a powerful stimulant that improves strength and endurance performance
- Yerba mate — a natural source of caffeine that has anti-inflammatory properties
- Guarana — a natural source of caffeine
- Beta-alanine — improves moderate to high-intensity physical activity; helps you squeeze out a few extra reps
- B-vitamins — important for maintaining energy and avoiding fatigue
- Carbohydrates — the body’s preferred fuel source, important for fueling your workouts
- Beetroot — beetroot is high in nitrates that improve blood flow by dilating the blood vessels; enhances aerobic performance, and promotes muscle contraction and relaxation
Try ARO-Vitacost Black Series Pre-Workout Concentrate, which contains caffeine, beta-alanine, ginseng, guarana, and creatine.
2. They can help replenish electrolytes
Electrolytes are lost through sweat during prolonged activity, especially in hot and humid weather. They are minerals, including calcium, sodium, and potassium, which are necessary for a variety of bodily functions.
A proper balance of electrolytes is crucial, which is why water, lacking in these minerals, is not enough if you are exercising for over an hour or in hot and humid weather. A deficiency of electrolytes can cause headaches, fatigue, cramping, nausea, and blood pressure issues.
Popular sports drinks are not the best option when it comes to replenishing your electrolytes. High in sugar and low on the actual electrolytes you need, they are unnecessary for most people. Choosing a high-quality electrolyte sports nutrition supplement is best.
Try Vitacost Vibran-C Effervescent Drink Mix, which contains electrolytes plus vitamin C, and other beneficial vitamins and minerals for active individuals.
Active individuals may require more protein than the average person, approximately 1.2 to 2.0 grams per kilogram of bodyweight. Protein is necessary for optimal recovery, muscle growth and maintenance, particularly if you reduce your calories.
For some people, obtaining enough protein through diet is difficult, especially if you eat a plant-based diet. Plant-based protein is less absorbable than animal sources and rarely contains all of the necessary amino acids in a single source. Thus, plant-based athletes may wish to supplement with vegan protein powder to meet their increased needs.
4. They can increase results
However, there are a lot of unsubstantiated claims and empty promises. It’s important to know what to look for. Two of the most well researched and effective supplements for increasing results are creatine and protein powder.
As discussed, protein powder helps build and spare muscle during weight loss. Dieting and the resulting weight loss can cause a decrease in muscle mass by 20-30%. Muscle loss can lower metabolism and leave you looking less firm than you’d hope. To prevent this, supplementing with protein powder is ideal.
Creatine can help boost your ability to gain muscle when combined with a solid strength training routine. Look for creatine monohydrate, which is affordable and the most effective form. Try ARO-Vitacost Back Series Creatine.
Arguably the most neglected yet vital aspect of training is proper workout recovery. If your training sessions are like mixing dough, the recovery process is baking the bread —it’s when the real results unfold.
For the best results, rest, and focus on high-quality nutrition. Utilizing the benefits of sports nutrition to augment your recovery process can provide an edge, covering your bases when it comes to optimal nutrition. Some supplements that have been shown to aid in the recovery process include:
- Amino acids — while you can obtain these from protein, if you are on a keto diet or wish to obtain your amino acids in a calorie free form, amino acid supplements are for you.
- ZMA — a popular combination of zinc, magnesium, and vitamin B6, which are all often lacking in athletes.
- Omega-3 fatty acids — may aid in reducing the inflammatory effect caused by intense training.
Just as with your training, being consistent with your sports nutrition supplements will increase their benefits. If one supplement doesn’t seem to work for you, experiment with another brand or type to find what you like best.
Tip: It’s essential to speak to your health care provider before taking any supplement