When people think of workout supplements, they typically think of them falling into two categories—illegal steroids or useless products sold to gullible consumers. Thankfully, there are actually a lot of quality products that exist between these two extremes.
While supplements are by no means necessary to having a good workout, they can help you achieve the highest level of success possible. If you’ve considered using products like these before but are unsure about which ones to choose, this guide is for you. We’ll break down the three most common types of workout supplement on the market today—including their benefits and what types of people may see success with them.
Before we begin, it’s important to remember that supplements are just that—supplemental. If you’re not putting in the hard work at the gym, you won’t see the results mentioned here. These products can be helpful, but they can’t perform miracles.
Whey protein is one of the most common and most widely recommended of all the workout supplements. It’s normally sold in powdered form, which is then added to milk or water by users to create what are commonly referred to as protein shakes. While there are different kinds of protein powder (including soy and casein), whey is seen as superior because it contains the highest levels of leucine, a chemical responsible for stimulating muscle growth.
Whey protein is perfect when you’re looking to add muscle mass, but it can also be beneficial for those losing weight as well. During the weight-loss process, your body turns to both fat and muscle as potential energy sources. While you want your body to use all fat and no muscle, it’s simply not a physical possibility. However, using whey protein signals to your body to preserve muscle cells, which can help reduce the amount of muscle lost and maximize the amount of fat burnt while losing weight. Many weightlifters consume whey protein after a workout in order to jump-start the muscle-rebuilding process, but adding it to your diet at any time may prove to be beneficial.
Creatine, like whey protein, is most commonly found in powdered form and added to a liquid. In the most basic sense, this supplement boosts your energy levels and allows you to train harder and for longer periods of time. While the energy boost from creatine is quite modest, relatively speaking, using it regularly over time should produce slow but steady gains in muscle mass or strength.
This workout supplement is perfect for weightlifters or those engaged in other high-intensity activities, like football or sprinting. However, there are no studies to indicate that it can help improve performance during endurance activities or aerobic workouts. Additionally, creatine may not be useful for those trying to lose weight—you can expect to gain anywhere from two to four pounds during the first weeks of use.
Fish oil supplements are not the most fragrant or tasty to take, but they can revolutionize your workouts. As you might already know, fish oil is full of heart-healthy Omega 3 fatty acids, and one of their many benefits are their anti-inflammatory properties. Particularly intense workouts can leave you feeling sore and inflamed, so the regular use of fish oil may help reduce that inflammation, thereby reducing your overall recovery times.
This supplement may also help with building muscle mass as well. Omega 3s have been shown to help encourage the creation of muscle tissue by increasing the intake of nutrients by muscle cells and by preventing the body from using muscle as a source of energy. Finally, by improving your cardiovascular health, fish oil can help your heart function more optimally during workouts. After taking it regularly, you may find that your able to exercise longer and more intensely without losing your breath as easily.