(All information in this blog is my own based on my knowledge and experience within the fitness industry over the last 20+ years)
Today I'd like to go into the basic information about sports supplements, and what's best to take, without spending a fortune. The supplement industry has become massive, and there seems to be a new brand launched weekly. The advertising, sponsorship deals and social media are heavy too. In the UK alone it's worth an estimated £52 million. The question is, what do you need to take, or even at all?
First off you have to think about your goals, as this will affect what you may take. My general rule of thumb is to get as many macronutrients and micronutrients from your food and drink intake. This isn't always possible, as your demand may be high, and your daily calorie output could be exceptionally high too.
This is where supplements can really come in handy to help you. They can top up vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, protein and more. They are also convenient and fairly cost effective. But what do you need to take?
Once your nutrition plan is pretty spot on, work out what you need? There's so much out there, and there is a supplement for everything, but let us keep it simple. First off you're working out hard, so your body needs more. Taking a daily multivitamin will really help. This will top up what you are already getting from your diet, and I always think it's better to get too much, than not enough. Any additional will generally come back out. This is useful for the digestion of foods which your body will need to help break down macronutrients, helping to burn fat and make protein easier to absorb, and carbohydrates ready to release that all-important energy.
Protein shakes come from all different sources. If you are a vegan you can choose soya, hemp, rice or pea protein. My favourite source is whey. Whey is the most digestible source of protein. It's a complete protein which means it contains all 20 amino acids, and also high in L-Glutamine which I'll go into later. Now even this can come in three different types. Concentrate which is generally cheaper, isolate which is more expensive, but digests better, faster and lower in lactose, and hydrolize which is very expensive. Whey normally comes in blends of concentrate and isolate to keep it affordable. Some companies add in hydrolize too. Read the ingredient list, if concentrate is listed first, it'll be about 70% concentrate, 30% isolate, and vice versa. I prefer to go for isolate first as I know this will be better quality and more digestible. Whey is perfect for directly after your workout, as it digests in 2 hours, and it's what your body needs directly after a hard training session. The other thing to look out for is how much protein you'll get per 100g. Go for at least 80g per 100g, the other 20g will be flavouring.
L-Glutamine is one amino acid, and even though you get it from food, and whey protein, it's important to get additional l-glutamine as this is the most abundant amino acid in skeletal tissue. It makes up roughly 74% so demand can be high. It also helps boost the immune system, which prevents you from getting ill. Remember the immune system can get hit hard during grueling workouts, leaving you vulnerable to illness.
So there you have it, the basics and cost effective too. I'll go into more detail on other supplements down the line, but for now, this is all you'll need