The Most Popular Fitness Supplement Ingredients

The Most Popular Fitness Supplement Ingredients

Working out places stress on your body beyond what it is used to. That stress causes your body to break down. Micro tears occur in your muscle tissue, nutrients, vitamins, and minerals are depleted and you get weaker and smaller. Those are clearly not the goals you want to achieve from your workout. The difference between staying in that depleted state and recovering to get fitter, stronger and better comes down to supplementation. 

The problem is that the fitness supplement industry has become a behemoth. The slick marketing machine has done a good job of convincing us that we all have to spend a hundred bucks or more every month to meet our fitness supplement needs. The truth is that many of the supplements being pushed on us are a complete waste of money. In this article, I’ll reveal the 9 most popular, and most necessary fitness supplement ingredients.

I’ll break it down to before, during, and after your workout so that you are fueling your body with the right stuff at the right time.

Before Your Workout

Creatine Monohydrate

Creatine is the one supplement that is universally accepted as being effective at promoting lean body mass and strength. Creatine monohydrate is a naturally occurring chemical that’s one of the muscle’s main energy sources. By ingesting it we can supersaturate our muscles with it. This makes our muscle cells stronger and allows them to recover faster. Creatine also causes the cell to hold more water which promotes protein synthesis. 

When we train with weights or do any other type of anaerobic exercise, we rely for energy on the ATP molecule within the muscle cell. Stress in the muscle cell during training causes one phosphate to drop from ATP. When this occurs, the energy-producing ATP morphs into ADP, which is unable to produce the strength and energy that the cell demands. The beauty of creatine is that it is able to replace the missing phosphate to return it back to its ATP state. The result is that protein synthesis is reactivated, you’re able to train for harder longer and you will create more lean muscle mass. What’s more, the improved rate of phosphocreatine synthesis will boost the metabolism to turbocharge the fat loss process. 

The bottom line on creatine; it will help you gain mass, lose fat and allow you to recover faster.

It is recommended that you take 5-10 grams of creatine per day.

Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAA’s)

Branch-Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs), are made up of the amino acids leucine, isoleucine, and valine. All three of these are considered essential amino acids because they are not synthesized by the body and must, therefore, be supplied by our diet.

BCAA’s provide a great source of fuel for your workout. That’s because they are synthesized right within the muscle cell. They are just as effective as carbohydrates at providing the fuel to drive your muscles, without the problem of fat storage.

But BCAA’s don’t just provide energy for your workout. They are able to give you an energy drive at any time. They are great to help with that mid-afternoon energy lag.

Beta Alanine

Beta-alanine is produced by the human body. Despite this, it has come to be regarded as an essential non-essential micro-nutrient. Its main claim to fame is its ability to stimulate carnosine production. So what? Well, carnosine helps you to train a lot harder.

When you work out hard with weights, your body increases the production of hydrogen ions. These ions work against your muscle-building efforts because they lower the levels of pH in the cell, causing muscular fatigue. As a result, beta-alanine is great for beating the effects of fatigue during the workout and stimulating recovery after the workout.

Citrulline Malate

Citrulline malate, a compound based upon the non-essential amino acid l-citrulline, has the ability to lower body fat levels and induce the body to increase its production of human growth hormone. Its popularity as a bodybuilding supplement that really works stems from its ability to decrease body fat and promote the release of human growth hormone, thus leading to enhanced muscle mass. Citrulline also has the ability to maintain muscle mass strength while preventing muscle catabolism.

Fish Oil & Flax Oil

Essential fatty acids (Omega-3 and Omega-6) do wonder for our bodies. They are essential for strong bones, absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, energy production, skin texture, and fat burning. Because Essential Fatty Acids are so important for optimal health it makes sense to take a supplement to ensure that you’re getting enough of them. Fish oil supplements are usually derived from mackerel, herring, and tuna. You should take between 1.5 and 2.0 grams each day.

Caffeine

When you consume a cup of coffee it takes about twenty minutes for it to get to your brain. Once there, caffeine blocks the uptake of a neurotransmitter called adenosine. Adenosine tells the brain that it is drowsy, so caffeine’s ability to block it is what perks us up.

Also Read:   The Best Post-Workout Meals for Muscle Gain

Caffeine also stimulates the central nervous system. It increases alertness, decreases reaction time, and sharpens focus. It will also slightly increase blood pressure.

Caffeine can also cause the heart to race. This is due to an effect of the blocking of adenosine in the brain, which is to causes the neurotransmitters norepinephrine and epinephrine to increase the force with which the heart is contracting. This results in what is commonly referred to as the fight or flight response, during which heart rate increases, blood pressure is elevated and oxygen supply to the brain and other vital organs is increased. In the brain, despite the blocking of adenosine, blood supply actually diminishes. 

a 2009 study by researchers at the University of Arkansas Department of Health, Human Performance and Recreation, published a systematic review of 21 studies of caffeine in timed performance. The studies involved cycling, running, rowing, and cross country. Consistent improvements were seen across the board, with the average being 3 percent.

A 3 percent improvement is significant. For a recreational athlete doing a 10K race, it equates to shaving nearly a minute and a half off your time. Lead researcher of the 2009 study, Matthew Ganio, said, ‘Caffeine is a very unique drug in that it has effects on almost every part of the body. The general consensus right now is that a lot of it is going on in the brain, or central nervous system’.

According to the research, the ideal dose of caffeine for optimum athletic performance is four milligrams per kilogram of body mass. So, an 80-pound guy would require 320 mg of caffeine, which is equivalent to about three strong cups of coffee.

During Your Workout

Water + Dextrose

During your workout, your priorities are to stay hydrated and to replenish your glycogen levels. Water is a great way to do both. Adding dextrose to the mix (literally mixing it into your water bottle) will make your H20 even more potent. Dextrose, also known as glucose, is a corn-based energy source that is readily absorbed by the body. It stimulates an immediate insulin response, which will drive nutrients to the cells, allowing you to perform longer and be stronger.

Post Workout

Glutamine

Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in the human body. It is a non-essential amino acid, meaning that your body can produce it by itself. 61% of your skeletal muscle is composed of glutamine.

Glutamine is a key transporter of nitrogen throughout the body. It is, in fact, the main way that nitrogen gets into your muscle cells. Nitrogen is the driver of muscle growth. Being in a state of positive nitrogen balance will determine whether your body is in an anabolic (muscle building) or a catabolic (muscle depleting) state.

When you work out, you lose a lot of glutamine. Heavy, frequent, intense training will actually remove the majority of this amino acid

from your system. After your workout, your body is in a glutamine-depleted state. It will take up to 6 days for your glutamine levels to return to normal after just one heavy workout. Therefore, if you are training intensely several times a week, you will be in a constant state of glutamine depletion. Yet this amino acid is the most important substance that you need for recovery. That is why you need to take a quality glutamine supplement.

Whey Protein

Whey protein powder is the world’s most popular muscle-building supplement. It contains a complete complement of the amino acids and other nutrients that our bodies need to repair and rebuild muscle tissue. In addition, [L1] [ST2] whey protein may be able to help remove stored body fat and increase strength levels. Among the most bioavailable and quickest absorbing protein forms, whey protein is one of the most researched and scientifically attested sports supplements on the planet. 

Whey is a type of protein derived from milk. There are two forms of protein found in milk; whey and casein. When cheese is made, the whey, which is found in the liquid part of the milk, is separated and removed as a by-product of the manufacturing process. 

For hundreds of years, the whey was discarded. In the past fifty years, however, it has found a use as the key ingredient in protein powders, protein bars, and weight gainers. Whey protein quickly gained popularity in the bodybuilding community as a result of its ability to supply the muscles with easily digestible proteins very quickly. 

Whey protein provides all nine essential amino acids (those that your body can’t produce), which makes it an excellent promoter of strength and repairer of muscle tissue. In addition, whey protein is very satiating, helping to reduce caloric consumption in those trying to lose weight. 

This article was last updated on October 19, 2021 .

By Steve Theunissen

Steve is a former gym owner, personal trainer, and 20-year veteran of the fitness writing industry. Steve has written for websites such as Hardcore Muscle, Fitness, Carblite, and Men's Health and has been a fitness expert columnist for 2 international magazines.