Did you know that around 79% of Americans report feeling unhappy with how their body looks at times? If you are working out to feel better when you look in the mirror, then it is important to learn how to choose the right fitness supplement in order to recover quickly and reach your fitness goals faster. We have put together this guide to share more about what to look for when you’re shopping for supplements.
Read on to learn our top tips.
What to Look for When Shopping for Supplements
While you’re looking for fitness supplements, you want to first look at what kind of testing the supplement has gone through with the manufacturer or seller. The best thing is when the company is transparent and they publish their test results right on their website for everyone to see.
The reason you want to see test results is that, unfortunately, some supplements are contaminated with illicit substances. Because the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) doesn’t have the power to review dietary product for safety, these third party tests are even more important.
Take a look around the website when buying a supplement to see if they have an NSF certification listed on the label. For example, when you buy SARMS an NSG certification on the label means that the product is safe to use.
Something else you want to look for is the dosage recommended. You want the dosage to be based on published medical research. An example, is creatine which is proven to be effective, but medical research shows that in order for creatine to be effective a person needs a daily dose of around 5 grams. This means that if you take a supplement with only 1 gram of creatine, you are probably getting zero creatine benefits.
Supplements Worth Investing In
With our above tips, you now know how to spot if a brand is reputable, but you might still be wondering how do you know which supplements are worth investing in. This does depend on your specific fitness goals and your health needs, but we took the time to dig deeper, and we did some research on some of these common supplements:
This is one of the few supplements that has gone through plenty of research and has been proven to work. Creatine has shown to help with improving strength, muscles mass, and power. It has also been found safe to use even long term.
In fact, the International Society of Sports Nutrition has confirmed that even with higher doses, there are no long term effects people have to worry about. It is of course recommended to always speak with your primary doctor to ensure that creatine won’t affect any current medications or health concerns you have.
Also, if you plan on using creatine for over six months, it is a smart idea to consult your doctor.
When you buy this supplement, you want to make sure that you see the word monohydrate in the name because this is the specific type that has undergone most of the research. There are other creatine forms that haven’t been researched as much yet.
Creatine monohydrate can lead to water retention in the muscles, so you might notice some weight gain. This is why you want to make sure you drink enough water while you are taking creatine supplements. Having plenty of water will also help with other side effects such as heat intolerance, digestive issues, stiffness, and muscle cramps.
Whether you have a fitness goal or not, protein is a micronutrient everyone needs. Protein is great for building muscle and it is also helpful and effective for muscle recovery.
If you opt to take a protein-sourced powder, then you want to aim for a whey protein source. In the event that you can’t handle whey, then you can choose a plant-based protein powder instead. Make sure that if you choose a plant based powder it is free of any extra preservatives, sugars, or fillers.
One other thing to keep in mind is that some plant based protein powders have higher levels of heavy metals like lead.
Our bodies produce this nonessential amino acid that helps aid in the production of carnosine. Carnosine helps muscles work longer and harder before they feel fatigued.
The way carnosine works is by reducing the lactic acid that builds up in the muscles while a person is exercising. In the end, this helps improve athletic performance and endurance.
Beta-alanine is also naturally found in fish, meat, and poultry. If you opt to take it as a supplement, then it is best to take between 4 and 6 grams of beta-alanine to get the best results.
There was a study done where the results showed the positive effects beta-alanine has on the muscles. Rowers were given the supplement for seven weeks, and another set of rowers were not given the supplement. Those that had beta-alanine saw an improvement in their speed compared to those that didn’t take the supplement.
Nitric Oxide Boosters
Some pre-workout mixes will have nitric oxide boosters that helps improve nutrient and oxygen delivery to the muscles. This is what will give you the pumped up feeling and look after your workout.
Nitrate from beetroot juice helps lessen the time to exhaustion and it also helps improve cardio endurance. You can opt to drink straight beet juice before your workout instead of getting nitric oxide from a supplement. The exact amount you have to take will all depend on your height and weight.
Normally you want to aim for at least 300mL to 500mL of the juice or between 400-500mg if you opt for a nitrate supplement.
Coffee is a popular caffeine drink, but it is also found in other beverages and some supplements. Caffeine is great for improving a workout performance, and it is also a great energy booster. For those that are healthy, a daily maximum limit of caffeine is 400 milligrams.
Although there are preworkout supplements that have caffeine, look out for extra added ingredients. If you do not want the added things such as fake sugars, then you might be better off sipping a cup of black coffee about an hour before you work out.
An entire 8 ounce cup of coffee will contain around 80-100 mg of coffee.
Branched Chain Amino Acids
Branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) are the building blocks of protein. They help protect glycogen stored in the muscles. This allows a person to work out longer than usual.
BCAAs can also help with speeding up recovery after working out, plus they help maintain muscular performance. You can find BCAAs included in many pre-workout products because you will gain most of the benefits before you hit the gym.
Always Do Your Research
It is best to always be safe when you start ingesting a new product. Because workout products are not regulated by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) it means that manufacturers do not legally have the responsibility to test how safe their product or products are. It also means that the amount of each ingredient might vary from package to package because they are under no obligation to follow strict packaging and measurement guides.
Try to look for products that are approved by a third party company, but still do not skip looking at the package in detail and studying the ingredient list. Look to see if there is a long list of ingredients you have never seen before or if it has more than you can handle of a certain ingredient such as caffeine.
Take the time to really look into each ingredient on the label to ensure it is effective, safe, and will indeed help your performance. If in doubt, talk to your doctor or a dietician about specific ingredients.
One last thing to keep in mind is to not always take the advice of a salesperson in a supplement store. Most workers at these stores are not nutrition experts and they might be telling you what they want to in order to make a sale.
It is best to consult with a registered dietitian if you want to create the safest and most effective plan for your specific needs.
How Can a Pre-Workout Supplement Help?
One way that a pre-workout supplement will help you is by increasing your drive and boosting your performance. This tends to happen because of the stimulants found in the supplement, such as caffeine.
Caffeine works because it has the ability to block the process of adenosine binding to its receptors, which causes us to fall asleep. With caffeine, they bind to the caffeine receptors instead of adenosine.
Preworkout supplements also help increase blood circulation to the muscles. When you are looking at supplements, you want to use something that has arginine, nitrates, or citrulline malate. These substances will help increase your blood circulation.
You will feel an influx of energy thanks to more oxygen and nutrients flowing to your muscles. This extra energy will lead to better performance and a more efficient recovery.
How to Choose a Pre-Workout Supplement
When you are shopping for the best pre-workout supplements for you, take into consideration what your individual needs are. You want to choose a supplement that has the ingredients that will benefit you the most.
Also, take a look at the sweeteners and additives in the product. Unfortunately, many pre-workouts have numerous artificial ingredients like colors, and flavors. If you are trying to be healthier and stay on the more natural side of ingredients then this is a huge thing to watch out for.
Make sure you look for ingredients that have been researched and that are known to impact and improve performance. We mentioned many of those above such as creatine, caffeine, nitrates, BCAAs, and beta-alanine. These have already gone through rigorous testing and research to see if they actually help or not.
Last but not least, when you choose a pre-workout supplement as we mentioned before look for third-party testing. We mention this again because some people are under the impression that the FDA regulates these supplements like they do with regular pharmaceuticals, but this is not the case. The only way to ensure that a pre-workout supplement contains the ingredients it claims on the label is through third party testing.
Potential Side Effects
Like with everything we ingest there are potential side effects to keep in mind. With fitness supplements these are the most common side effects from common ingredients found in most products:
- Beta-alanine – tingling sensations when too much is ingested
- Caffeine – upset stomach, headaches, difficulty sleeping, and rapid heart rate
- Citrulline malate – upset stomach or digestive discomfort
- Creatine monohydrate – short term water retention
Don’t forget that these supplements are meant to improve your workouts and they should not replace a healthy lifestyle along with a healthy diet.
Ready to Choose the Right Fitness Supplements?
Now that you have our top tips when it comes to choosing fitness supplements, you can make an informed decision before spending any money. Make sure that you keep in mind that although the ingredients we mentioned above are safe, there can be side effects depending on your body.
Consulting a physician before starting on any supplements is always wise, especially if you are currently taking any prescription medications. They can recommend which supplements are best and also the best dosage for your needs and physique.
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