What’s the crack? Do you need them? Do they work? Why does your mum think they’re steroids? And much more…
So do you need them for a better body? The honest answer is yes and no. It depends entirely on your goals and the supplement in question. Can you achieve your goals without them? Probably. If you took them would it help you achieve your goals faster? Maybe.
You can start to see it’s a kind of grey area that’s hyped up dramatically by the media. After all we’re talking about a market here that’s predicted to be worth $278.02 billion by 2024. We’ve all seen the magazine adverts showing the guy with pumped 21 inch biceps posing next to a “for men” multivitamin. Everyone knows he’s taking more than that! (Apart from your mum who thinks they’re definitely steroids in disguise).
I would however suggest that before you even think about investing in supplements that you nail every tier on the “nutritional priorities pyramid” first. This is simply a pyramid of different nutritional factors that are in order of priority. I use it all the time in my nutritional coaching with clients. For example, work on hydration before moving onto energy balance. You’ll notice supplements are last! Going into detail on each tier is beyond the scope of this article, but you can learn more here.
Once you’ve worked your way up here’s some of my favourite supplements you could look into. None of these are “sexy”, they’re just your basics, but that’s all you need. Don’t get conned into buying crap with loads of marketing hype around it.
Whey protein/BCAA – A high protein diet is important for lean mass gains and retention. If you struggle to get in adequate protein during each day, a whey protein supplement might be a smart choice. Or some BCAAs (basically the building blocks of proteins).
Caffeine – This drives focus and concentration, making it great to take before a workout. It also helps your body burn more fat for fuel and can help improve muscular contractions. A black coffee will work, but if you’re like me and hate coffee, take caffeine in a capsule or powder form instead.
Creatine – Quite possibly one of the most researched sports supplements on the market today. Supplementing with creatine helps to increase your muscles phosphocreatine stores. In turn this helps with explosive strength and power.
Omega 3 – Found in high amounts in oily fish and seeds, omega 3 is a fatty acid that’s important for joint health and brain function. It’s also been shown to be a good anti-inflammatory. A useful thing to have in the blood stream if you plan on training hard.
Vitamin D – Normally created in the body by exposure to sun light, but chances are we don’t get enough here in the UK. The benefits of vitamin D stretch far beyond just bone health. Many studies show it helps with muscle strength, blood sugar regulation, kidney health and immune function.
Smart supplements, like those mentioned above, can help improve your health, performance and speed up your results, provided there is a solid nutritional foundation in place to begin with. No supplement works miracles, but the effect of many (such as creatine and whey protein) accumulates over time.