When I firsts started going to the gym, I wish I wasn’t so ignorant to think that I didn’t need supplements and that my diet will supply my body with all the nutrients it needs. It wasn’t until a few months in that I reached a certain point and things went kind of stale, so I thought – everyone I know is taking some type of supplement, so maybe I should start dabbling as well. I started off with buying a tube of whey protein and some multivitamin supplements. Taking whey protein as my sole workout supplement helped me recover faster from the workouts, I wasn’t as sore anymore, and I started noticing progress again. It was then that I was sold on protein supplements at least, and that piqued my interest to find other supplements that can help me reach my fitness goals faster.
However, keep in mind that everybody is different, so what worked for me may not necessarily work for you. There are a couple of workout supplements that are scientifically proven to enhance performance, speed up recovery and promote muscle growth. For me, quicker recovery after intense workouts was the biggest and most important benefit of taking supplements, I absolutely detest feeling sore days after working out, as it directly impacted my next session. Not only that, but recovery entails repairing muscle and tissue, reducing inflammation and replenishing the energy stores and nutrients that are needed for restoring the central nervous system’s function and cellular activity. In other words, it means repairing the communication pathways between your body and brain, which is key to staying active and healthy.
Furthermore, some workout supplement products can help optimise your immune system. As someone who usually gets ill a few times every winter, this past winter season was the first time in years that I didn’t even catch a cold. A resilient immune system also means faster recovery and less downtime, which for me was essential. There’s nothing worse than being consistent in the gym for a few months, then catching a cold and having to pause for several days, throwing you off your hard-acquired routine. Taking supplements also encouraged me to eat healthier and sleep more. So if you’re anything like me, someone who needs to go all in to keep themselves in check, supplementation can give you the boost in motivation and discipline you need.
You don’t have to get every supplement to notice results in your performance, recovery and progress. Whey protein supplementation is a good first step, but I won’t be talking about protein since there’s so much information about it everywhere you look. Instead, I’ll mention and explain some “less-known” supplements that the inexperienced gym-goer may not have heard of, which are extremely beneficial not just for working towards your fitness goals, but also for improving your overall health.
Probiotic Gym Supplements
Probiotics provide the gut with healthy flora that’s needed for digestion, elimination, absorption and immune function. If your gut isn’t doing its job properly, you probably won’t recover either, which slows the repair of tissue and muscle, resulting in increased inflammation. A healthy daily dose of probiotics is between 20 and 50 billion CFUs. However, the same probiotics won’t work for everyone, so always refer to a doctor if you’re experiencing gut and digestion issues to make sure you get the right supplementation. Probiotic supplements can prevent diarrhea and improve mental health.
Glutamine Gym Supplements
Glutamine is an amino acid that promotes recovery by allowing the muscles to intake more carbs after a workout. It also increases the growth hormone, allowing the body to gain new muscle mass. Additionally, it promotes gut healing. It’s best taken after a workout and in combination with BCAAs. Speaking of BCAAs, they’re the next most popular supplement after protein. They promote muscle protein synthesis and prevent delayed-onset muscle soreness. BCAAs can also provide you with an energy boost and assist in weight loss. But perhaps the biggest benefit of glutamine is improving the function of the immune system. It’s a crucial fuel source for immune cells, including intestinal and white blood cells.
Another amino acid that stimulates the growth hormone, promoting muscle grown, strength and recovery. L-arginine is the precursor to creatine, another supplement that enhances performance. Arginine can be taken in capsule and powder form. Personally, I prefer the powder form as I can add it in the protein shake and kill two birds with one stone. Besides fitness benefits, L-arginine supplements can reduce high blood pressure, treat erectile dysfunction, alleviate anxiety and improve kidney function.
Omega-3 Fish Oil Supplements
Omega-3 fats are known for their anti-inflammatory properties. They promote hormone synthesis, reduce muscle soreness and improve bone repair. 3-5g daily doses are enough to get the most out of them. They’re also essential nutrients in preventing and managing heart disease.