Until I was in high school, I couldn’t swallow a pill.
My dad once threw a pill down my throat. Seriously.
Today I take a massive line up of vitamins and supplements… and I still have to think about it before I swallow them. My method now is to put water in my mouth first so that the pill sort of floats. That way I can trick myself into thinking I’m just swallowing water.
But this post isn’t about working around your gag reflex. It’s about one of the most-asked questions I get: What supplements do you/should I take? Work It Out with supplements!
This post is JUST about non-vitamin supplements. I also take my vitamins, but I think that’s less interesting. Let me know if I’m wrong.
I believe that supplementation plays in important role in athletes/health enthusiasts. The questions I get surround what supplements one can take to help maintain energy, reach fitness goals (i.e. build muscle), and maintain healthier lifestyles. Below is what I’ve learned on my journey as a figure competitor.
NOTE: This is simply what I have learned and experienced through personal research. NOTHING will replace hard work and a good diet.
Each day I take the following supplements:
Glutamine is an amino acid that is produced in the highest quantity by your body. It is a non-essential amino acid, so it can be produced naturally by the body through other amino acids. Glutamine specifically aids in the development of the glucose that provides the body with energy. It helps maintain muscle mass and aids the recovery from training. Intensive athletic training can deplete glutamine levels when muscles are being worked, so glutamine supplements are effective in replenishing glutamine levels for athletes who train hard.
Since this pic, I started using Optimum Nutrition’s BCAAs in my morning cocktail. I credit these for eliminating my morning coffee urges. And their orange flavor ROCKS!
After protein is ingested it breaks down into amino acids. Amino acids are known as the building blocks of proteins and are responsible for the development of your body’s enzymes, including those responsible for digestion. Amino acids also help in the repair and growth of muscles when taken in conjunction with your workout (see BCAAs below for more on that).
3. CLA (with green tea extract)
I also take one of these first thing in the morning, and another mid-afternoon. The directions indicate that you can take up to 4 per day; however, keep in mind that these instructions are often written with the average sized male in mind. A small female probably doesn’t need so much, so I take half.
CLA stands for conjugated linoleic acid. It is a type of trans fatty acid; however, CLA is not considered a “bad” trans fat. It assists in the metabolism of stored body fat for fuel and preventing the metabolism from slowing down while in the case of decrease calorie intake. Some studies have also found that taking CLA in conjunction with weight training leads to increased lean muscle development. CLA can be obtained through diet; meat and dairy products have the highest concentration of CLA. It has the added benefit of helping to prevent certain cancers and heart disease.
I love my Aminos to start the day; however, they do have some unnatural flavors, and it’s not always convenient to take with me to the gym. Instead I take a BCAA pill immediately following a workout, along with 20g of protein in the form of whey protein powder.
Taken after a workout, Aminos feed and repair muscles. Choosing the right amino acid will depend on your fitness goals. I take BCAAs. BCAAs are metabolized in the muscle, not the liver, like other Amino Acids. They contain isoleucine, leucine, and valine, which are thought to be THE most important amino acids for muscle tissue growth and preservation. The human body can’t manufacture BCAAs on their own, and being active places excess demand on our BCAA needs. This is why supplementing with BCAAs is important.
Creatine powder can be somewhat controversial. I decided to try it out because I was having trouble gaining. This, combined with some diet adjustments and intensified workouts, has made a HUGE difference for me in the past month. I’m actually visibly GAINING! 🙂
Creatine is used to produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP) – a molecule responsible for providing energy to your muscles. With more energy, you can train harder, producing greater results. It can also help your body to recover faster so that your next workout is fresher. About 2 grams of natural creatine is produced in your liver, kidneys and pancreas everyday. You also get creatine in your diet via meat or fish (which may make it especially beneficial for non-meat eaters). When taking creatine supplements people will typically report gaining a 2-4 pounds of weight immediately; however, the initial gain is water weight. Subsequent gains are muscle due to the increase in the workload you can handle. It can positively affect your cardiovascular exercise as well. Creatine helps increase the amount of aerobic activity you can do before getting winded, so you will be able to exercise longer and more intensely.
Some studies have found creatine enhanced athletic performance and increased strength. There are reports that creatine has caused dehydration, and in some cases there have been reports of side effects like irregular heartbeat and cramping. As with the benefits, these side effects have not specifically been proven to be a direct result of taking creatine. There are a lot of articles on creatine – both promoting and warning against. I strongly advise you to do your own research before deciding to use creatine.
***Disclaimer: This post contain Amazon affiliate links. If you order through them, I get a teensy kickback… it helps me run the blog, so thank you if you order anything! And I do actually order all of this from Amazon.***
Good news on the lower body/glute front! I put on my jeans today and they were almost uncomfortably tight in the legs. Never thought I’d be so excited about that… 😉
What supplements do you take?
Did anyone try last week’s incline workout for the glutes?