This post is essentially a direct email to a close friend of mine that I brought more into the world of fitness last year before I moved. One of my former pupils is now helping him but there are always questions that need to be answered. This response to one of his questions is going to be used as the topic of this post as a result of his request. It is, therefore, to a certain degree catered to his personal needs. I could have just told him to go to Amazon or Bodybuilding.com to read product reviews, but that wouldn’t be very nice, would it?
Disclaimer: The following is to a certain degree my opinion and personally professional way of explaining some very complicated matters. Although I have knowledge based on formal education and years of experience and experimentation, the language used may not necessarily be technically or scientifically accurate. It is merely a useful means to explain complex processes and ideas in a way that everyone can understand, visualize, and implement. If you have an issue with the way I do what I do, please send us an email. Thank you =)
Note: This will not be very in-depth. For more specific questions, please message us. We will answer ALL questions.
I am going to break this into a few sections. First, I will be dealing with general vitamins, minerals and similar products that relate to nutrition and dieting. Then I will go into three sections that highlight pre, intra (or during), and post workout related supplements. If you are looking for anything about proteins, skip to the post workout section.
Vitamins and minerals are an important part of the operation of our body’s various systems. Common vitamins such as A, B, C, D, and E are very beneficial for our health. While we can obtain them from certain foods and even our environment, sometimes a multivitamin will provide us with a consistent intake.
I recommend a few “multivitamins.” First, Kirkland has one of the only USP verified products on the market and it is very affordable. Emergen-C is a different means of consumption (a powder that is mixed in liquid) but you need to be aware that it is believed that it can be harmful to the enamel on your teeth. For those that are training hard, Universal Animal Pak is a more serious product that contains 11 pills in one “half-serving.”. I would recommend those products over other brands for performance and value.
Creatine: This is an organic acid that is present in vertebrates. That means that is a natural compound that is already inside of you! It’s purpose is to provide energy to various parts of your body, mainly your muscles. For anyone questioning taking creatine, please recognize that it is not a high risk product if taken properly and it can have positive results on your growth and development when paired with an effective physical fitness routine. I would recommend taking Optimum Nutrition’s Micronized Creatine Powder. It is a simple monohydrate, more natural and basic essentially. Try to take it in six week on and off cycles, performing a loading stage the first week and a maintenance stage for the next five. In the loading stage, take one scoop (teaspoon) with every macro or major meal, and one heaping scoop post workout. (Realize that many pre/intra/and post workout supplements also contain creatine.) During maintenance, take a scoop post workout.
Pre-Workouts: Many of these products contain various vitamin b, amino acids, and what I will refer to as aerating compounds. They essentially get more air to your blood and provide you with a placebo effect pump up feeling. I am not the largest supporter of these products and the massive amount of them that exist. They conveniently affect everyone differently. Even if it only makes you think that it is working, that might help your workout. They can potentially reduce lactic acid buildup, allowing you to perform more repetitions and further tear your muscle fibers before fatigue sets in too far. I recommend Cellucor C4 if you want one that tastes better. MusclePharm Assault is another one that tastes alright and is more effective. If you want a better value, try Jack3d. Try to stay away from lemonades and fruit punches, they usually taste worse. Usually stick to one scoop, but follow directions. I like to take these on an empty stomach, but I have a sensitive stomach so it’s up to you.
Intra-Workouts: Again, I am even less of a fan of these products. They are very similar to pre-workouts, but they provide you with more carbohydrates and electrolytes to help you maintain endurance based strengths throughout a workout. These are more useful for longer workouts. I recommend Cytosport’s Cytomax. Ask for flavor recommendations, but they are all relatively good in terms of taste. Take one scoop for an hour-long workout, or two for a two-hour long workout. Make sure you double your amount of water if doubling scoops.
Post-Workouts: Protein supplements are the reason this article was written. I recommend that you eat a gram of protein for every pound you want in your goal weight. I want to weigh 225 pounds again, so I shoot for at least 225 grams of protein a day. Sometimes that can be hard to achieve on a certain budget or with time restraints. Protein powders provide a reasonably priced and very dense protein serving, and they usually have other vitamins, minerals, and amino acids as well. Thus, you can quickly hit a protein goal by making a shake with these powders. I prefer eating real foods for protein, fish being my go to.
Nevertheless, if you are looking for a more complex and tasty product, I recommend Cytosport’s Muscle and Monster Milks. BSN’s Syntha-6 is a good value, mixes well, and tastes alright. For the purists out there, I would stick to Optimum Nutrition’s Isolated Whey Protein and Isolated Casein Protein. Now, it is up to you, but do not try the crazy flavors like Cookies n’ Cream. They are awful. Stick with chocolate or vanilla, depending on your preference. Moving backwards, whey protein is derived from the process of making cheese while casein is more so derived from the milk of mammals directly. Whey breaks down and is processed faster, so I usually take it during the day. Casein processes slower but is still protein packed so I usually take it before going to sleep. Get both if you’re super serious, or whey if you’re starting out easy.
A post for dieting and nutrition will be made in the future and it will go more into depth of how these products can fit into your diets. For now, here are just introductory tips and product recommendations.