Whether you’re brand new to working out or have been pursuing fitness goals for a while, you’ve probably felt overwhelmed at some point by the number of supplements that seem to be screaming out to you from the grocery store shelves.
Burn fat! Build muscle! Recover faster! Run farther! Every supplement seems to promise incredible results, and you’ve probably been tempted to try them all -- anything to help you along on your fitness journey, right?
It’s true that there are supplements out there that can help you reach your goals faster. There are also plenty of supplements that won’t do anything at all (and some that could actually harm your health and hinder your progress).
If you’re not sure which supplements you need, keep reading. Listed below are some supplements that are actually worth investing in, along with the ones you can (and probably should) skip out on.
Supplements You Need
The following supplements have been proven to be beneficial for helping you stay on track and see results from your health and fitness endeavors.
A multivitamin will help you meet your minimum daily requirements for the majority of the micronutrients your body needs to run effectively. Your specific micronutrient needs vary depending on your age and gender.
For example, the best multivitamin for men will include extra vitamin E and extra vitamin B 12. The best multivitamins for women, on the other hand, will typically have more calcium, vitamin D, and iron.
Creatine is a naturally occurring acid that helps promote muscle repair and growth. It can also improve your endurance.
Creatine is found in meat, fish, and eggs. Most people get plenty from these sources. But, if you feel like you need an additional boost, or if you’re a vegan or vegetarian, creatine supplementation may be especially beneficial.
Fish oil is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, something many people aren’t getting enough of. Omega-3s are natural anti-inflammatories, so they can help you recover faster and stave off joint pain and muscle soreness.
Fish oil might not be necessary if you eat plenty of fatty fish (salmon, sardines, etc.). If you don’t, though, then look for a high-quality fish oil supplement that needs to be refrigerated -- this will help prevent it from going rancid.
Glutamine a naturally occurring amino acid that helps you maintain muscle mass. It can also help boost your immune system to prevent sickness.
Glutamine is found in red meat, beans, nuts, and fish. If you don’t have access to these foods on a regular basis, though, supplementing with additional glutamine can be helpful.
Protein powder is probably the most popular supplement among gym goers. The belief that protein powder is necessary to build muscle is not necessarily true -- in the end, as long as you’re eating a sufficient amount of protein, you’ll see improvements.
You don’t technically need protein powder. But, if you have a hard time hitting your protein goals without it, it can be beneficial.
Finally, you may also benefit from taking beta-alanine. Beta-alanine is a natural amino acid that boosts the body’s production of carnosine. Carnosine prevents acid build-up. This, in turns, helps reduce muscle fatigue and soreness.
Supplements You Can Skip
The supplements listed above are great options for anyone who’s working out regularly and needs some help building muscle or shedding extra pounds. The following supplements, though, have little-to-no benefits:
Fat burners: They’re basically all just concentrated doses of caffeine and have a marginal (at best) effect on fat loss
Branch chain amino acids (BCAAs): These are generally only beneficial if you aren’t eating sufficient amounts of protein
Nitric oxide boosters: There’s little evidence to suggest that these promote blood flow to the muscle to aid in muscle building
Mass gainers: You can save money and aid muscle growth by simply eating more calories from real foods
As you can see, not all supplements are created equal. Keep these guidelines in mind for the next time you head to the store. You’ll know exactly what to stock up on and what to skip altogether.