Ah the internet. While there is an unlimited amount of information floating around during this day and age, it makes it extremely easy to get confused on a range of different topics due to exactly that – there’s SO MUCH information. How do we sort though the BS and decide on what is accurate and what isn’t? It can be tough for sure, especially when it comes to the health & fitness industry and everything revolving around supplements. When to take them, why to take them, benefits vs side effects, best brands, the list goes on. While today’s article will be another one to add to the masses, our focus will be at a base level to help you understand what some of these supplements actually are, what they do, and how they might benefit you in AND out of the gym. Grab a cup of coffee kids, it’s time for some knowledge.
1. Creatine (that supplement that someone probably told you was steroids).
At a base level, creatine is just a combination of 3 different amino acids; ARGININE, GLYCINE, AND METHIONINE. Creatine can and is used as fuel source when performing anaerobic activity (weightlifting, sprints). In fact, your body’s preferred choice of energy when performing those anaerobic activities is your creatine phosphate stores. So if you fancy yourself a weightlifter or sprinting athlete – this is good news for you! If you’re more of an endurance athlete (long distance running, marathons, triathlons) or more aerobic activity – creatine however will not be of much benefit. So if we know that our bodys preferred energy source is from the creatine phosphate stores while performing anaerobic activity, it would make sense to supplement with creatine to help increase these stores! But will it benefit you to take creatine before your workout? Not exactly. Creatine takes about a week (roughly) to process, so the energy your body is getting from your stored creatine phosphate stores is that from the the stores already in your cells and NOT the creatine you just ingested. Basically, it takes about a week for it to actually start working and will always take from your stored creatine phosphate and NOT the creatine you just drank. So it makes sense to take your creatine after your workout is complete to help refuel those depleted phosphate stores, thus giving you more energy for future workouts. As an added bonus, your body will usually absorb nutrients better after a workout as well. All in all, creatine is not dangerous, and you can take anywhere from 3-5g of a creatine monohydrate after your workout.
2. Fish Oils (Omega 3’s)
I’m convinced fish oils should be illegal, or way more expensive. The benefits for long term brain function and overall health are enough for me to take them on a daily basis. If you ever have a problem in your life – make sure you take your fish oils. And if that doesn’t sort the problem out, lifting weights probably will. Anyway. Omega 3 fatty acids aide in cardiovascular function, nervous system function & brain health, as well as immune health. With two of the main acids in fish oils (EPA & DHA) low DHA has been linked and is associated with memory loss, difficulty concentrating, and in some cases Alzheimer’s disease. On top of fish oils naturally reducing inflammation in the body, there’s a laundry list of pros to these bad boys that you can easily google – but a few noteworthy ones for the sake of this article:
– With increased amounts of Omega 3’s, muscle cells become more sensitive to insulin while fat cells decrease. This means the body can divert more nutrients to muscle tissue.
– EPA & DHA can help increase metabolism by increasing levels of enzymes that boost calorie-burning ability.
– We can’t make Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids in our bodies – so we need to get them from our diets and supplements.
– Avoid trans fats as they will interfere with EPA & DHA in the body
I could go on and on but there are plenty of excellent articles out there I’m you’ve read or seen. As a recommended dosage for EPA/DHA per day, anywhere from 2-4g should do just fine. REMEMBER – this does not mean 2-4g of fish oil when you’re looking at the label on the back, add up both the amount of EPA & DHA on the label and that’s the amount your looking for. Ex: Per 1 capsule there is 420mg EPA and 280mg DHA in my fish oils. Added together that would equal 700mg of both EPA & DHA per 1 capsule. 700mgx6 capsules (what I usually take in a day) = 4200mg (4.2g).
Branched chain amino acids should be one of your best friends. No matter what kind of training your doing – this should be part of your intra/post workout nutrition. BCAA’s are basically the building blocks of protein and there are three branched chain amino acids; LEUCINE, ISOLEUCINE, AND VALINE. While most amino acids head straight to the gut and liver, these BCAA’s head directly to the bloodstream instead. Your bodys BCAA’s are burned for energy during exercise, but can be used as a recovery tool to help aide in lower lactate levels (decrease muscle soreness) and increase muscle growth. That’s a big one in the “pros” department. Normally after a workout in regards to nutrition and repairing muscles, it would be in our best interest to consume something with carbohydrates, proteins, and amino acids to help induce an insulin response. BUT, the availability of leucine is more important than insulin itself. Protein synthesis (muscle rebuilding) depends on how much leucine is available. So it makes sense to supplement with them during or after a workout then! Aside from BCAA’s helping you stay hydrated and decrease lactate levels at a bare minimum, they are used as a tool by many to start the protein synthesis faster in order to repair and rebuild the muscles quicker to train more frequently at high intensities.
Hopefully that help shed a little light on a few supplements I believe can be very beneficial to anyone no matter what type of training you’re doing. Obviously if you have a history of health problems or something that is on going we urge you to consult your doctor to see if these are okay for you. Here’s to a healthier you!
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