When I first started going to the gym, I noticed that many people used supplements and I was curious about using them. I asked my personal trainer at the time to give me a little bit of information on them and recommend some. I have tried many different kinds over the years and they are all basically falling into 3 different categories; Pre-workouts, post workouts and supplements for during your workout.
Of course, depending on your own needs there might be more you want to explore, but for now, I am going to talk about these three basic types.
Before I get into the general 3 categories, I think it’s important I clear up some of the myths about supplements. Don’t feel bad if you have some preconceived notions about fitness supplements. Most people do. I definitely had some of my own. Here are some of the common ones and what the truth is.
“Only bodybuilders or pros need these”- This is probably one of the most told myths about fitness supplements out there. You are an athlete if you participate in sports. You don’t need to be a pro in order to consider yourself one. This means these supplements are for you, too! All active bodies can benefit from them.
“They contain stuff that is terrible for you”- Actually, fitness supplements can contain stuff that your body needs that it may be lacking when you lead a more active lifestyle. I take one that is basically a cocktail of vitamins! I call it drinking my vitamins and I feel like it really helps not only with my fitness plan, but also I have seen an improvement in my skin, overall energy levels and even my moods. The key is to get a good one and check with your doctor about your needs.
“Supplements are the perfect way to replace foods in your diet”- No, no and nope. Fitness supplements should be just that; a supplement. They should never be used as a way to replace entire food groups or meals in most cases. Sometimes, I like to have a protein shake as a post workout, but I always enhance it with fruit to make it a square meal.
“They don’t really work. It’s all placebo”- This was something I wondered, too. I mean, let’s face it; supplements aren’t exactly cheap. It was a risk for me to take when it came to buying them and seeing if they work. I actually found that they do and I get more energy during my workouts and less cramping and pain after. Plus, when I added in extra protein, I saw visible results.
3 Different Kinds of Fitness Supplements
Now that I have discussed some common myths about supplements, here is some information on the basic three types of fitness supplements so you can decide which ones you want to try.
Pre-workouts- Pre-workouts will give you more energy. They are my favorite one to use because when I started using them, I saw my energy skyrocket and my goals started to become more attainable. They also help increase blood flow which helps your muscles work harder. There should be some caution used when trying pre-workouts, though. They often contain some ingredients that can make some people uncomfortable.
Most of these pre-workouts contain caffeine, so if you are sensitive to it, be aware that this can have a negative effect on you. There are some without it, and they mostly contain a mix of extra B vitamins instead.
Also, many contain niacin. This helps with focus during your workout, but some people describe the feeling they get with it as a burning or tingling sensation. This usually subsides as soon as you start working out, but for some people, they just can’t stand it and so they skip it.
Pre-workouts should be drank at least 15-20 minutes before working out. I strongly recommend not using them if you workout at night or in the evening as they will keep you up for hours.
Supplements for during your workout- Most supplements that you take during a workout are basically a boost in amino acids called BCAAs. These are acids help build our muscle. These types of supplements will help your muscles from feeling too fatigued after and they can act as a kind of fuel for them during your workout.
BCAA stands for Branch Chained Amino Acids and this is a special amino acid that the body can use up right away. They are perfect for keeping up you from losing muscle mass and helping you build it instead. I also find that they help with post-workout muscle pain.
Post-Workouts- Protein is the most common post-workout taken by most people. Post-workouts will help aid you in a few ways. First, they help replace lost energy from your workout. Without them, you are likely to feel very tired.
Second, they can help rebuild muscle. When you work out, especially if you lift weights, you are putting tiny tears in your muscles. These can be repaired when you add protein.
A post-workout should be taken within 45 minutes to an hour after working out so plan on making it as soon as you get home from the gym if you can for it to be most effective.
Please note that I am not a personal trainer or medical professional. I am writing from my personal experiences. Before starting any of these supplements or altering your diet should be only done under the direction of a doctor.
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