The supplement world is a bit shady at times. In addition to the sleazy marketing messages and over-the-top product labels, plenty of companies make unfounded claims about the effectiveness and benefits of their supplements. However, some supplements actually make a noticeable difference in your performance, and can help you reach your fitness goals much faster.
Read More: 13 Best Pre Workouts for Beginners
The Three Workout Supplements That I Recommend Are:
- Protein Powder
- Creatine Monohydrate
- Hydration Supplements
- and a Bonus Supplement
If you’re new to working out, and new to optimizing your nutrition for maximum gains and performance in the gym, it can be difficult to hit your daily protein goal. Most studies recommend between 0.75 and 1 grams per pound of bodyweight. (So if you weigh 200 pounds, the recommendation is 150 to 200 g of protein per day.) To maximize muscle growth and recovery, you need to get enough protein. If you’re not accustomed to eating a high-protein diet, protein powder can help you meet that daily recommended intake.
Although I personally recommend using real food, like meat, eggs or cottage cheese, to meet your protein goal — using protein powder will be more beneficial than not reaching your daily goal.
One caveat I have with protein powder is that it is really a supplemental tool to help you meet your nutrition goals. Adding protein to your diet won’t necessarily provide any benefit, especially if you’re already getting adequate protein in your diet. If you’re eating a protein-rich diet without any issue, you may not really need protein powder. Before you spend money on a protein powder, I recommend identifying the best macronutrient balance for your goals — and then seeing if you need help reaching your protein goal.
- The Scoop on Protein Powder – Harvard Health Publishing
- The Hidden Dangers of Protein Powders – Harvard Health Publishing
- Is Protein Powder Worth It? – MindBodyGreen
Creatine monohydrate is another super popular supplement for people looking to enhance their performance with supplements. The benefits of creatine are numerous. Taking creatine consistently can improve strength, increase lean muscle mass, and help aid muscle recovery during exercise. These benefits may help athletes achieve greater bursts of speed and energy, especially during shorter, high-intensity activities like sprinting or weight training.
Creatine monohydrate is also cheaper than a lot of supplements, so you can typically find good deals on Amazon.
Best Creatine Supplements on Amazon
- BulkSupplements.com Creatine Monohydrate Powder – Creatine Powder ($1.67/ounce)
- Nutricost Creatine Monohydrate Micronized Powder 500G ($1.68/ounce)
Dehydration isn’t something that has been widely studied in the general population. However, specifically in older adults somewhere around 25% of people are chronically dehydrated. If you’re training a lot, it’s important to focus on staying hydrated for performance and recovery.
If you’re training a lot, you may be depleting your body of minerals like sodium. This is especially true if you’re training outside in hot environments. Drinking water alone may not be enough to fully replenish your body. Drinks like Gatorade or Liquid IV, can be beneficial for rehydrating. Combining the sodium in these drinks with sugar helps deliver the nutrients to your muscles faster than if you just consume sodium through your diet or with sodium-only supplements.
Bonus: Vitamin Supplements
The last supplement that I can 100% recommend is specific vitamin supplements, like Vitamin D or a daily multi-vitamin. If you look at your bloodwork with your doctor, you may find that you a deficient in a given vitamin. According to Cleveland Clinic, 42% of Americans are vitamin D deficient. Vitamin D deficiency can lead to fatigue, bone pain, muscle weakness, and mood changes. Simply getting your vitamin D levels dialed in can actually have a noticeable impact on your performance in the gym.
It’s hard for me to give specific recommendations on what vitamins you should be taking, but talking with your doctor can give you an idea of what may benefit you.