The 3 Supplements You Will Ever Need!
There is so much stuff out there and you can purchase various bundles of products at “discounted” price (often as much as £100) because, obviously, you are going to need them all, and you are going to buy them every month = the politics of a lot of supplement companies out there, especially MLM (multi-level marketing).
Do you really need £100 worth of supplements every month? NO!
Human body is an amazing creation and can basically MAKE or synthesize, to sound a little more clever, absolutely everything you need. What it cannot make, it will take from food. So the idea is simple. Fuel your body properly and save yourself a £100 a month.
There are, however, substances that your body might need in higher doses, especially if you are a very active individual who is interested in growing some muscle. I buy 3 products to support lean muscle growth and the last one is not even a proper supplement that you have to buy from a specialised shop and it’s been around for hundreds of years.
Let me break them down to you very quickly:
Nothing exceptional, you probably expected me to say that. And yeah, it is a bit boring.
But do you know what? It’s the best supplement I have ever taken and I have tried many different brands. Whether you are vegan, vegetarian or whether you don’t care about that at all, you can get any protein powder at any price that will suit your needs.
I only use it on workout days, occasionally on my rest days if I had a particularly hard session the day before. I decided to do my part for the planet and use vegan protein powder which comes in a paper bag meaning zero plastic. Obviously this is costing me a little more (£30 per 600g) than usual but it makes me feel good and it fits my values.
If you are not bothered very much, you can get a 1kg bag of whey protein for as little as £20. If you are not an elite athlete, you will probably not need the most supreme quality. The fact that one bag of protein is cheaper than another doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily inferior. It only means that it has a different percentage of pure protein – the amount usually ranges from 70% – 90%. The more protein the higher the price. Powders with less protein contain more fat and carbohydrates which might not suit some goals – athletes that focus on body fat %. Even the ones with 70% pack as little as 100 kcal per serving which is not a lot at all so just have browse online, read the labels and decide for yourself.
I wrote a little more comprehensive article about types of Whey Protein so feel free to check it out 🙂 Don’t worry, the page opens in a new tab so you won’t lose this one 🙂
Your muscles need protein to recover. Period. It depends on how much you are exercising and what your goals are but I definitely recommend getting a bag even if your goal is a weight loss. As the muscles grow, they become a much more active tissue which effectively helps you burn more fat. You don’t have to worry about getting “bulky”, it’s actually quite difficult to gain a lot of weight while exercising, because as your metabolism becomes faster, it needs more calories. If just eating a lot of protein and exercising was the way, we would all be bulky 🙂 You can always pick a diet protein with fewer calories if you are worried about weight gain but I can tell you, from my own experience, that the “lean” version of proteins don’t have the best effect. Obviously I can only speak for myself but after two tubs of lean protein, I decided to go for the proper stuff, which had no difference in calories by the way :), and started to see results a lot quicker.
Also, it’s a really good tasting reward after your workout 🙂 There’s nothing better than to sit in a sauna after a workout, sipping your favourite chocolate protein shake (I have an obsession with chocolate ones).
I know that not every gym has a sauna but it’s still nice to get home after a hard session, sit for a bit, relax and enjoy your chocolate (obviously) treat 🙂
Creatine is a very safe chemical that naturally occurs in human body, respectively in muscles.
Maybe the name sounds like something really synthetic but we use creatine every day and most of us probably don’t know about it.
It’s part of a very important process of creating energy in the muscles. We use this process for every activity that lasts up to 10s which, as you can imagine, is anything from getting out of bed to running 100m if you are any good 🙂
As you can see, it fuels your body all the time! But there are limited stores of creatine in muscles which means that the body gets tired very quickly and that’s why it only fuels us up to 10s.
Creatine is very important to people who are interested in strength training where creatine energy system is dominant. When you do resistance training, you are most likely doing low amount of reps and higher resistance which means that you will need that short burst of energy to be as efficient as possible.
Studies show that supplementing with as little as 3g of creatine a day improves strength. It basically means that your muscles need slightly longer time to fatigue which could mean a significant difference to the weight you are about to handle and the amount of reps you can perform.
Creatine is a very safe supplement, it was discovered in 1832 in beef and has been studied ever since. It becomes a supplement as such in the 90s and its effects are still being studied. There have been no side effects reported apart from bloating when you go through something called a “loading phase” which means you are taking as much as 20g a day for a week. It’s something that athletes do and I would not recommend a normal gym goer to do. It’s not exactly dangerous but a little bit pointless. if you don’t have a competition coming up, normal dose of 3 – 5g a day should be just fine.
If you are interested in reading about creatine a little more, I have covered it in a separate article HERE.
Not a fitness supplement as such but, come on, it’s awesome stuff. 🙂
I love trying out different bags from different countries. I love macchiato, latte, fat white, americano, anything.
All of us have probably heard about its diuretic properties (makes you go pee:)) but according to Public Health England, WHO and other reputable organizations, coffee and tea do contribute to your overall liquid intake. Even though they do have slight diuretic effect, the amount of fluid being taken in outweighs the amount being expelled.
Coffee also contains over 1 000 bio active compounds and it’s high in antioxidants which makes it incredibly beneficial to human body. There must be a reason why it’s THE most popular beverage in the world, right? 🙂
Few facts about Caffeine:
- It’s THE most widely studied stimulant in the world!
- Human body digests, absorbs and metabolises caffeine rapidly and almost completely which means that there is essentially no waste or by-product
- Natural and synthetic forms are identical so you don’t have to worry about negative side effects from caffeine tablets if you don’t like coffee
- Stimulates CNS (central nervous system) which means it improves alertness, focus and cognition (thinking)
- Enhances physical performance – improves endurance and reaction time
Caffeine works in a very simple way.
We have a chemical in our brains called Adenosine which is essentially a nervous system depressant. They bind to certain receptors which effectively causes us to become sleepy. The levels of Adenosine are high in the morning and decrease every hour after waking up (that explains us getting more alert during the day).
Adenosine also contributes to creating the ATP molecule which is VERY IMPORTANT! It’s the only fuel human body recognises. We basically need ATP to be able to move.
So how does caffeine come into this? Well, its structure is incredibly similar to Adenosine which means that caffeine is able to basically fool our body 🙂 It binds to the receptors in our brain that the Adenosine would normally attach to. They do differ in what message they send through, though 🙂 Adenosine, when attached to a receptor, sends a message that you are sleepy and tired. Caffeine, on the other hand, blocks this message entirely and transmits its own one. And what message is that?
- It tells the nerve cells in the brain to fire up
- The blood vessels to constrict
These actions cause the release of Adrenaline because your body is tricked into thinking it’s in “fight or flight” mode and Adrenaline has a certain number of effects that we are very familiar with:
- Pupil dialation
- Increased heart rate
- Raised blood pressure
- Liver is forced to release stored sugar into the bloodstream in anticipation of movement
- Blood flow to the stomach slows down, supply with blood to the muscles, on the other hand, increases so the body is ready for action
Enough of the science now. Let’s have a look at safe dosage because, same as anything, caffeine will only bring you benefits if used sensibly. Otherwise, it can send you into some shivers and nausea, potentially seizures, depending on how well your body tolerates it.
Recommended safe dose for adults is up to 400mg/day. To put it in some context, this amount would be the equivalent of:
- 4 cups of brewed coffee
- 2 cups of espresso
- 10 cans of Coca-Cola 🙂
- 2 tablets of caffeine tablet (each tablet USUALLY! contains 200mg)
Pregnant women should not consume more than 200mg/day.
Children should avoid caffeine or minimize the intake to maximum of 3mg of kilogram body weight.
So, as an athlete or just a regular gym goer, caffeine is the most popular go-to supplement.
As I have mentioned above, it has been widely studied and some studies have proven that caffeine even surpasses the effect of carbs in endurance athlete by around 2%. Now, for you, me and other regular people, this doesn’t mean very much but for a competitive, professional athlete, it might mean a lot.
Let me just quickly show you how much caffeine you can find in some of the most popular drinks.
- Percolated Coffee – this means basically circulating the coffee grains in boiling water, in other way known as brewed 🙂 which we can do in a pot, french press, drip coffee machine etc.
- 60 – 120mg per cup (250ml) depending on how deeply the beans have been roasted and other conditions. Check your label 🙂
- Instant Coffee – it has already been brewed and usually freeze-dried. There is a little controversy about instant coffee and a chemical called Acrylamide which occurs in fresh coffee too, however the amount is as much as double in instant coffee and the only reason why this matters is that overexposure to Acrylamide may apparently damage the nervous system and increase the risk of cancer. I guess we have to decide for ourselves whether we are overexposing ourselves to this chemical or not 🙂
- Anyway 🙂 The content of caffeine in instant coffee is 60 – 80mg per cup
- Energy Drink – we all know them, anything like Red Bull
- 80mg per 250ml
- Coca – Cola
- 49mg a can
- Black Tea
- 10 – 50mg a cup
- Green Tea – green tea is not a magic trick for a weight loss, as often advertised, caffeine however may improve fat burning because it helps cells to break down fat. This property is being studied but with very different results so far
- 30 – 50mg a cup
So, there you go. These are the only three supplements I use and always found incredibly helpful. They don’t break your bank and they are very easy to buy. OK, Creatine is not available in your regular supermarket but go online and you can have it delivered the next day 🙂
Here are some links to products I have personally tried 🙂