The Girls’ Guide to Supplements
Supplements are so confusing. There are so many types, companies, names, ingredients… it can be overwhelming! On top of that, there are so many myths out there that deter us girls away from using them… “you’ll get manly”.. “you’ll get bulky”… “supplements are only for guys”… “I’m only taking ‘girl’ supplements”.
But in reality, if we could just see passed those silly lies and get to the truth about supplements, it could help you take your physique to the next level!
Here is a basic guide to supplements. What they are, when to take them and where to get them!
Whey is a milk based protein, naturally low in calories. It is known for its quick digestibility. When you consume whey, it breaks down rapidly in the body and sends aminos to muscle tissue. Whey helps build and maintain lean muscle tissue. Remember, lean muscle is what gives the appearance of “tone”. Muscle speeds up metabolism which causes you to burn more calories throughout the day, just by being alive.
The best times to take whey is in the morning and before and after workouts. Take 20 grams of whey about 30-45 minutes before your workout and within 30 minutes after training. You can also take it immediately upon waking.
Casein is another milk based protein, but unlike whey, it digests very slowly. Casein provides the body with a steady stream of aminos over a longer span of time than whey does. Casein also helps to build and maintain lean muscle tissue.
The optimal time to take casein is before bed or during the day between meals (it will tide you over longer than whey will in this instance). In addition, some studies suggest that consuming a blend of whey and casein in your post-workout shake could be optimal for muscle-growth! Mix 10 grams of whey with 10 grams of casein to test this out for yourself!
Fish oil consists of two essential omega-3 fatty acids: EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). This is one of the best supplements you could possible take. It performs such a wide variety of functions in the body, it deserves a post of its’ own. Fish oil fights and prevents a wide variety of serious illnesses and can stimulate fat loss.
Split up your intake of fish oil by consuming 2 grams with each meal (breakfast, lunch and dinner).
Creatine is a naturally occurring compound in muscle tissue. It helps muscles create energy during exercise which can increase strength and endurance.
Take about 3 (between 2-5) grams before and after your workout.
CLA (which stands for conjugated linoleic acid) is an omega-6 fatty acid that is actually very good for you! CLA helps boost metabolism, and promotes fat loss, muscle growth and strength gains!
Take 2 grams of CLA with each meal (breakfast, lunch and dinner).
As the name denotes, a multi-vitamin is multiple vitamins together in pill form. A multi is meant to fill in the nutritional holes in your diet. Since obviously we cannot consume all of the necessary vitamins each day, this little pill helps us where we miss out. Being vitamin deficient in certain micronutrients can cause low energy levels, immune system deficiencies and keep us from gaining muscle and losing fat.
Take the multi once a day, preferably at a bookend (breakfast or dinner). Try to find a multi-vitamin that has 100% of the daily recommendation for zinc, chromium, copper, C, E, D & B-complex.
Beta-alanine is a nonessential amino acid. When beta-alanine and histidine (another amino acid in the body) get together, they form carnosine. Carnosine has been suggested to improve strength, endurance, muscle growth and fat loss. This makes beta-alanine a potential powerhouse!
Take 1-3 grams of beta-alanine before and after workouts. Beta-alanine can have a weird side effect (makes you feel all tingly) so prepare yourself for that!
BCAAs stands for branched chain amino acids. These molecular structure consists of leucine, valine and isoleucine. BCAAs help build and maintain lean muscle. Some studies suggest they may also reduce cortisol and boost muscle-growth hormones!
Take between 5 & 10 grams of BCAAs with your pre workout and post workout shakes.
N.O. stands for nitric oxide. N.O. boosters help boost levels of nitric oxide in the bloodstream (as if the name didn’t give you enough of a hint!) 😉 Basically what N.O. does is relax muscles that control blood vessels which allows them to dilate and blood to flow through them with ease. In addition to helping you get a better pump, nitric oxide may aid fat loss by supporting lipolysis.
For optimal results, take the NO booster 30 minutes to an hour before your workout.
Besides getting these at your local supplement stores, there are also online retailers. Read reviews on products and compare ingredients and pricing before you invest in anything very expensive!
Obviously there are a ton of other supplements out there and there is WAY MORE to each of these supplements than I described. But my goal here was simply to give you a general idea of what some of the most common/popular ones are and what they do. Depending on your goals, some of these may not be necessary. But knowledge is power and the more you know, the less likely you are to take something you don’t need. (Or start taking something that you DO need!). I encourage you to go out and do some reading on your own to further your knowledge about each of these supplements!
I get asked fairly often what I take myself! I consistently use a whey & casein protein powder, multi-vitamin, fish oil, & CLA. There are others that I cycle on and off, it just depends on my goals at the time! =)