Supplements should be treated as the name suggests – as an addition to a balanced and healthy diet, whatever your goals. However, the use of various supplements that are on the market may help you achieve your goals quicker and may help in making the most efficient plan for you.
Fitness Body Pro is an affiliate of the company MuscleFood. I have used their products for many years but recently Fitness Body Pro has been lucky enough to be accepted onto the affiliate program. This is a great company who can provide quality and quantity for everything from fresh meats, nut butters and egg whites to protein powders, fat burners and pre-workout shakes – everything any exercise lover would need. Every month I receive around 2-5kg of chicken breasts from this service as well as steaks, protein powders, vitamins and other supplements. As I said, the quality is great, it is delivered to your door and, as long as you have a big enough freezer, you can stock all meats and fish for weeks (unless you eat them all first!).
WHICH SUPPLEMENTS ARE GOOD?
WHEY PROTEIN POWDER
Whey protein allows you to get the necessary amount of protein into your body in order for your muscles to repair. Moreover, at only 100 calories per scoop with 25 grams of protein, it can provide you with a filling and tasty snack between meals. It’s a snack that genuinely tastes great in flavours from strawberry to cookies and cream which will also satisfy your sweet tooth without being full of sugar. Whey protein is also a great protein powder to have straight after a workout as it is easily digested and will help get the right nutrients to your muscles as soon as possible to help them start repairing and stop further muscle breakdown. There are two options of whey protein powder here. The best option is the isolate as this is the purest form of protein; but if you are on a budget and don’t mind a slightly less refined product, the others will do the job of supplying protein to muscles well.
Recommended for: anyone who undertakes physical activity; someone who is looking to build muscle; and anyone who is looking for a low sugar, low fat and low calorie tasty snack between meals.
PEA PROTEIN POWDER
If you are lactose intolerant but want a similar option to the above, I would recommend this product. Whey protein is digested and processed better for muscle building, but if you do not have a choice in the matter due to your intolerance then this is your best bet. It has less negative research compared to soy-based protein powders and can pack more of a punch than rice protein.
Recommended for: those who are lactose intolerant and cannot have whey protein.
BRANCH CHAIN AMINO ACIDS (BCAAS)
Ingesting protein helps to rebuild muscles, but it is the job of amino acids that actively facilitate the rebuilding when the protein source is digested. However, the muscle repair job cannot be effectively started until all the essential amino acids are present in the blood stream. Until this point, some of the ingested dietary protein will go to waste and won’t be used to repair muscles. If you supplement with BCAAs (the essential amino acids) before you take on your protein source, your body is already equipped with these primary building blocks to allow the ingested dietary protein to be used more efficiently when repairing the muscles. The essential amino acids that are primarily included in BCAA tablets or powders are leucine, isoleucine and valine. Also, consuming BCAAs before a workout – and notably before fasted cardio – has been shown to decrease muscle breakdown and thus increase the ratio of energy storage coming from carbohydrates and body fat during the workout.
Recommended for: the serious gym goer who is looking to efficiently build an aesthetic physique and, especially, for those who want to burn fat without losing their hard earned muscle.
MICELLULAR CASEIN PROTEIN POWDER
Casein protein provides a similar function to whey protein; however, it is digested at a slower rate. Thus, for post-workout, when we are looking to get the protein source into the muscles as quickly as possible to start the repair process and to stop muscle breakdown, whey protein is the best source. But if you are looking for a more sustained release – potentially when you cannot eat an adequate protein source for 4-5 hours, or for slow release throughout the night when you’re sleeping – casein protein is a better choice.
Pre-bed snack tip: mix a scoop of micellular protein powder with around 100-150g of low sugar yoghurt and put it in the freezer for an hour. It’ll come out like ice cream and, if you’re on a muscle building diet, adding a tablespoon or two of peanut butter makes you feel like you’re having a treat, when actually it’s a very progressive choice. I dare you not to like it.
Recommended for: anyone. Pre-bed snacks are tough nuts to crack and this is just an easy and tasty choice.
Creatine is the leading natural supplement to improve muscle size and strength. Protein powders allow your muscles to repair effectively to be bigger or stronger; but it is creatine that is the primary energy source for your body to use for explosive heavy weight lifting which allows them to become (positively) damaged and in need of repair in the first place. Creatine is a naturally occurring substance found in our body, replenished by the digestion of meats and fish, but supplementing before a workout (and afterwards to refill the stores for next time) allows you to lift heavy weights for longer which allows for more muscle usage at its optimal level. This product comes as a powder that you can add to protein shakes or as a tablet to take pre- and/or post-workout.
Recommended for: the serious muscle builder looking for the next level of explosive performance.
The one supplement that has changed my training more than anything: a pre-workout drink. For someone who is naturally looking to better their physique through putting their all into every single workout and to push themselves to the limits, this pre-workout drink by Grenade is a must. It only has 25 calories per drink with low sugar, high BCAAs, creatine and caffeine – as well as many other nutrients found naturally in the body – and really stimulates your muscles, focuses the mind and prepares you to workout hard. It is with hard workouts that we damage the muscle fibres for them to repair stronger and push ourselves to burn more calories in the session to help towards our fat burning goals. Apart from the caffeine included, the product’s aim is to provide optimal doses of various nutrients found naturally within the body and within foods, but which would require a high volume of food to achieve, in order for your body to perform at its best. Start with half a scoop and see how you feel. If you’re pregnant, taking medication or if you are very sensitive to stimulants and caffeine, please avoid or take advice from your doctor.
Recommended for: the serious gym goer who wants to push themselves to the limits of their ability.
OMEGA 3, 6, 9 FISH OILS
A great supplement to help with cerebral and cardiac function, skin and nail health, muscle growth and endurance. It is great to get these oils from fish such as salmon, tuna and mackerel; however, if you are on a calorie controlled diet where you are reducing your dietary fat intake in order to create the necessary calorie deficit, supplementing with fish oils to obtain your omega 3, 6 and 9s will provide you with the benefits of having these fatty acids but without the calories associated with ingesting the food source.
Recommended for: everyone.
With all the working out we do, sometimes our body is prone to becoming rundown. You should be able to get all the necessary vitamins and minerals from a healthy, balanced diet. However, it is always best to be sure that you are getting each in the necessary dose to allow you to repair and grow effectively, and allow you to not have unscheduled days off from sickness. This general multivitamin does the trick.
Recommended for: everyone.
Chris James MA O.A. Dip
Director – Head of Fitness and Nutrition
Fitness Body Pro