I thought that this week I would have a look at my top 5 supplements available to help your progress, recovery and general health.
What we need to remember when it comes to supplements is that they are just that, supplementary. In other words, they are there to increase the levels of the desired nutrient when there is a deficit in your diet. If you can get everything you need from your diet, then supplements are unnecessary, but on occasionally there are deficits in your diet or extra boosts are required and that’s where supplements come in handy.
Whey protein: Protein supplementation is useful when you can’t make your protein intake through a whole food route, needless to say that the whole food option is always best.
Protein needs for a reasonably active person looking to maintain lean body mass (muscle) whilst losing body fat is around 1.5 – 2 g/ kg of bodyweight.
More sedentary individuals would be closer to around 0.8 – 1.2g/kg and if the person has a lot of fat to drop then use the target weight and not current bodyweight to calculate the numbers.
Bcaa: Branched Chain Amino Acids, a group of 3 amino acids that have positive effects on muscle when taken at the appropriate times. Evidence from studies show an increase in time to reach fatigue and increased fat metabolisation (presumably from the ability to train for longer…)
Daily intake of around 20g is recommended with most of this, ideally, coming from whole food sources, but if you supplement then around 7.5 – 10g 1-2 hours before training will suffice.
Caffeine: Aaah, coffee! At least that is one of the sources, whether it is in coffee, tea or energy drinks, caffeine has the same form. It acts as a stimulant, increasing endurance, strength and general levels of awesomeness.
Long term consumption can lead to tolerances building up and limiting the awesomeness. Not really a supplement as such, but I’ve included it as it is used extensively both as a pre workout and as an alertness tool. If you find yourself doing everything 3 times faster than normal, then you have probably had too much…
Fish oil: The average diet tends to be high in red meats, eggs and dairy and thereby high in omega 6 fatty acids, ideally there should be a 1:1 ratio of omega 3 and omega 6 fats in the diet for health benefits such as healthier blood vessels and lower risk of diabetes and decreased risk of a variety of cancers. To balance out the omega 3 and 6 ratio, fish oil supplementation is usually necessary unless you are consuming a high fish diet.
Intake should be around around 1g daily as a minimum, although if you are supplementing as a way to combat muscle soreness, 6g per day is recommended, spread aver the course of the day.
Vitamin D: The sunshine vitamin, a micro-nutrient essential for good health. Typically vitamin D is produced from cholesterol synthesised by exposure to UV light from sunshine. Since I am in Scotland and sunshine for any reasonable length of time is rare even in summer time, I always supplement.
Most people aren’t vitamin D deficient but are often below the minimum levels for good health, minimum daily intake should be around 800IUs per day, although supplementation of around 1-2000IUs per day is recommended.