A Beginner’s Buying Guide to Supplements
Supplements can be confusing for someone who’s new to them. There are tons of different products out there, but not a lot of information on how to get started on supplementation.
You don’t need to be a professional athlete to use supplements. You could be a total newbie to the gym and still benefit from supplements. In fact, using supplements is a great way to kick off your fitness journey by giving you the energy and nutrients you need to reap the benefits of your workouts.
Regardless of when you started or how you do it, your fitness journey – and the blood, sweat and tears behind it – is fueled by the common end goal: Getting Results.
Simply put, supplements can magnify the results of diet and exercise, bringing you faster and greater progress toward your fitness goals. Here’s how:
1. Feeding Hungry Muscles
When you exercise, your body and muscles demand more. Sometimes, we don’t have the time or the means to replenish our muscles the way they need. Supplementation can help fill these nutritional gaps to make sure you’re seeing the results of your workouts and maintaining a well-balanced diet.
2. Maximizing Every Workout
Supplements provide increased energy, strength and accelerated recovery. This gives you the energy to get to your workout and kill it while you’re there. Supplementation can help you push your workouts, and your body, even further.
3. For When Life Has Its Own Plans
It can be hard to eat right every day – we can be busy, and sometimes life just gets in the way. Luckily, supplements are designed to be convenient. They can replace a meal and give you on-the-go nutrients.
Supplements aren’t just for the pro body builder (although they’re certainly useful). Anyone looking to give their workouts an extra edge or round out their diet can benefit from supplementation.
But, let’s face it, it can be difficult to sift through the world of fitness fads, here-today-but-gone-tomorrow supplement companies and hearsay claims. It’s hard to know which supplements are right for you and what will help you meet your goals.
That’s why we’ve created this guide. We’ll help match the supplement to your goal, whether it’s muscle building, weight loss or performance. Plus, we’ll make supplement recommendations based on reviews, science and what the pros are using.
Frequently Asked Questions
FAQ #1: I want to build muscle. Which supplement is best?
Protein is the holy grail of muscle building. It is made up of amino acids, which are literally the building blocks of muscle.
Feeding your body enough protein keeps it in an anabolic state – the state where the muscles and tissues in your body get energy for growth and repair. A great time to get your protein is directly after a workout, as this is when your muscles and tissues need it most.
It can be hard to get enough protein from food intake alone. Protein supplements are a great way to get the amount of protein you need. The best part is that one scoop of protein powder is roughly equivalent to 4 to 5 large eggs – you can get most of your daily protein intake without any of the extra fat or carbs.
It’s important to get enough protein in a day, because otherwise, your body will fall into a catabolic state, where your body cannibalizes hard-earned muscle for energy. Basically, all the hard work you’re putting into strength-training will be for nothing if your body doesn’t get a sufficient amount of protein.
Now that we know protein supplements build muscle, how do you pick which one is right for you?
Not all protein powders are the same – if you’re buying protein powder for the first time, it’s important to evaluate each protein powder based on the following factors:
- Bioavailability – Bioavailability is a measure of how well your body absorbs the protein. Peanuts, for example, have a bioavailability of 43, whereas whey protein supplements can score well over 100, allowing your body to get more of the good stuff from less.
- Purity – Let’s say you have a purity percentage of 80%. This means that for every 100g of the product you’re consuming, after the filtration of fat, carbs and other naturally occurring ingredients, you’re left with 80g of protein. Whey concentrates fall within this 80% purity, while whey isolates have 90% purity, giving you a higher protein ratio!
- Branched Chain Amino Acids – BCAAs (namely, leucine, isoleucine and valine) have been studied time and time again. The findings? BCAAs play a huge role in protein synthesis, a.k.a. the process by which individual cells build their specific proteins. The best proteins are generous in their servings of BCAAs, and a higher leucine ratio is proven to be more effective.
- Absorption – If you’re looking for fast absorption, whey peptides do a fantastic job. On the other hand, a casein protein releases protein over an 8-hour period – a great choice for those looking for a meal replacement or a little before-bed snack that keeps feeding muscles while you sleep!
You’ve officially learned everything you need to know about protein powders, so it’s time to head to the store to stock up! If you need some recommendations, here are some personal favorites.
For Fast-Absorbing, Premium Post-Workout Protein:
If you’re looking for a fast-absorbing, premium post-workout protein, we recommend our 100% Whey Protein Plus. It’s a definite fan favorite with 64g of ultra-pure protein and 14.8g of BCAAs per 2 scoops. The whey this protein powder delivers rates 104 in bioavailability. Score!
For Slow-Release or Nighttime Protein:
If you want a protein powder that works to repair your muscles while you sleep, Casein Protein digests slowly to give you the benefit of prolonged BCAA delivery. This ensures that your hungry muscles are getting the food they need to thrive! This protein powder is even enhanced with an added ingredient that’s clinically shown to build more muscle and strength – how’s that for something to sleep on?
For Vegan, Plant-Based Protein:
Our Plant-Based Protein Smoothie contains 15g of dairy-free protein, as well as 22 vitamins and minerals and 6g of fiber for more benefits! What doesn’t it have? No gluten or cholesterol, so you can feel good about it, whether you’re vegan or not!
FAQ #2: Which supplement can help me lose weight while fueling my workouts?
A lot of people talk about “getting lean.” When people say they want to get lean, they usually mean they want to gain muscle while staying lean. This is especially common for women who want to get stronger without putting on a ton of fat in the process.
The best supplement to help you get lean while fueling your workouts is a hybrid pre-workout. It provides the benefits of energy and focus while also helping you lose weight.
Having the extra edge of a weight loss ingredient in your pre-workout gives you an extra nudge toward your goals. A hybrid formula that promotes weight loss will possess the key ingredient C. canephora robusta. It is essentially premium coffee beans that have not been roasted, leading to a high level of chlorogenic acids. The ingredient continues to gain popularity because of its ability to promote weight loss. In fact, average weight loss with this key ingredient (200mg of C. canephora robusta bean extract, standardized to 45% chlorogenic acids) was 10.95 lbs. in a 60-day study with a low-calorie diet, and 3.7 lbs. in a separate 8-week study with a calorie-reduced diet and moderate exercise.
For weight loss and workout intensity:
A great hybrid pre-workout option that will aid with weight loss and pump up your workouts is our Pre-Workout Explosion Ripped, with a generous serving of C. canephora robusta at 400mg.
Beyond that, you’ll continue to get your usual pre-workout benefits: energy, so you can push harder and break a sweat, plus enhanced focus and an incredible sensory effect.
FAQ #3: Which supplement can help me build strength?
Creatine gained popularity in the ’90s as a strength builder. Twenty plus years later, it’s still going strong as one of the most widely used supplements for strength building.
Pro tip: Creatine monohydrate is the most studied form of creatine, having accumulated hundreds of research studies and articles that vouch for its effectiveness.
Here’s how your body uses creatine to build strength:
- The source of energy for all cells throughout your body is called adenosine triphosphate (ATP).
- When you work out, your body uses up ATP.
- As a by-product (of phosphate), that ATP turns into adenosine diphosphate (ADP).
- Creatine transforms the ADP back into ATP, keeping your body well-stocked for energy and recovery.
To experience the full benefits of supplementing with creatine, you want to get to a place called the point of saturation. True to its name, this is when your body is getting enough creatine to saturate your muscle cells.
There are two ways of saturating your cells with creatine:
- The 30-day process. Supplementing with 3g to 5g of creatine per day should get you to your saturation point within about 30 days. It takes patience, but the results come.
- The 5-day process. If you prefer, you can expedite the process to 5 days. During the loading phase, you supplement 5g of creatine, 4 times a day for 20g of daily consumption. You do this for 5 days in a row. This process is then followed by the maintenance phase. This is when you’ve reached the saturation point and maintain that place with your regular 3g to 5g of creatine, daily.
If you’re interested in supplementing with creatine, our 100% Creatine is a straight-shooting formula made up of 100% ultra-pure creatine monohydrate – nothing more, nothing less. This means that every serving gives your muscles 5g of creatine, with no fillers or additives.
FAQ #4: Which fitness supplements will work with my lifestyle?
As mentioned, convenience and practicality are the two major benefits for supplementation, but there are some supplements that work better depending on your lifestyle.
If you want a product that inspires day-to-day healthy living, proteins you can mix into your smoothies, baked goods, oatmeal, etc., are a great option. For instance, you could get our Unflavored 100% Whey Protein Plus and add it to just about anything – you won’t even notice it’s there, but you will easily hit your protein requirements for the day.
If you want something that’s going to help you with your workouts, amino acids for energy and recovery are a great option. Amino acids – particularly BCAAs – help aid recovery and can help you make it to the gym the day after a tiring workout. Try our Aminos + Energy – it’s one of the few supplements out there that can be used at any time of the day.
We hope you enjoyed this training supplement guide. Our goal was to provide you with the foundational knowledge to set you up for a successful fitness journey.
We know that there’s a lot of information to take in. To recap, here’s a quick chart that matches the training goal with the supplement:
|Build Muscle||Whey Protein, Casein Protein, Plant-Based Protein|
|Lose Weight||Hybrid Pre-Workout with Weight Loss Ingredient|
|Increase Performance (Strength)||Creatine|
|Fitness-Friendly Lifestyle||Unflavored Whey Protein and Amino Acids|