5 Essential Supplements on Your Transformation Journey
Every fitness expert around the world emphasizes, that sustainable fitness is not only about intense workouts but relies equally on healthy nutrition and proper rest for recovery. The first step on any fitness journey is to objectively define your goals and decide a training plan that suits your purpose. The next step takes you towards planning your nutrition based on your objectives & goals. Supplementation forms a big part of the nutrition strategy and is very individualized according to your ultimate goal, age, BMI, BMR, body composition, workout timing etc.
This article presents an overview onto the five supplements that form the core of nutrition plans for most enthusiasts wanting to achieve the most from their workouts.
1 Whey Protein
Milk contains two primary types of protein. Whey is soluble and makes up 20% of milk protein, while casein makes up the remaining 80%. Whey is undoubtedly the most in demand supplement and the best selling source of protein supplements for two reasons – its ability to help you add lean muscle quickly and the fast absorption rate. With a total cycle of 60-90 minutes from digestion to absorption and uptake of amino acids by body for muscle protein synthesis it helps your muscles quickly when they are primed for it.
One more attribute that makes it hugely popular is due to the fact that its probably the richest source of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs). The three essential amino acids leucine, isoleucine, and valine that are the most critical for muscle growth and energy are found abundantly in whey. In addition to that, whey protein supplies peptides that relax the blood vessels to cause vasodilation, which gets more blood flowing to the muscles and helps deliver amino acids to the muscles more quickly.
Fitness experts and enthusiasts around the world prefer taking their whey before and after workouts. In a recent research study conducted by Victoria University (Australia) it was found that the subjects who consumed whey protein, creatine, and glucose immediately before and after training for 10 weeks experienced an 80% greater increase in muscle mass and about a 30% greater increase in muscle strength than subjects who took the same supplements in the morning and at night. They also lost significant body fat, while the other group lost none.
A similar study by the University of Copenhagen found that subjects taking a protein and carbohydrate supplement immediately after workouts for 12 weeks gained significant muscle mass. It was also noted that the group using the supplement immediately after workouts also gained greater muscle strength.
Dose & Timing:
- 20 grams of whey immediately upon waking
- 20 grams 30 minutes before start of your workouts
- 20 grams within 30 minutes after your workouts.
This is one of the most studied and effective supplements ever to hit the market. Various research studies have vouched for its ability to help you increase muscle mass by as much as 10 pounds and muscle strength by more than 10% within short spans. As you may have heard before, creatine does, in fact, increase the water weight inside muscles, pulling more fluid into the cells. The scientific process behind this places a stretch on the cell membrane and signal the need for an increase in muscle protein synthesis, which results in real, long-term muscle growth. The benefits of creatine outweigh the rumours surrounding it so do build it as a component of your supplement plan without getting bogged down by hearsay. Its benefits also include its ability to provide the muscles with a quick source of energy to fuel muscle contractions during workouts making it a critical energy component of muscle cells. Needless to say this extra available energy helps you achieve more reps per set which leads to gains in muscle strength and size.
Dose & Timing: There are different forms of creatine available in the maret and depending upon the form you use a dosage of 1–5 grams before and after workouts mixed with your whey protein is considered to be a good option.
3 Casein Protein
Casein which is again derived from milk is a very slow-digesting protein but provides the body a sustained source of amino acids to the body for as long as 7 hours. This is precisely the reason experts recommend including casein either as a protein shake or from whole foods like cottage cheese or Greek yogurt before bedtime so that your metabolism stays active while sleeping and your body has a constant supply of amino acids when its in rest and recovery mode. Contradictory to the assumption that casein mixed with whey post-workout is a waste numerous studies show that it helps a great deal in building muscle mass and strength beyind the levels that can be achieved alone by whey. A simpler way to increase your casein intake cam be to mix your whey in milk.
Dose & Timing:
- Mix 20 grams of casein to 20 grams of whey post-workout whey
- 20 grams of casein before bed
- Alternate sources can be mixing whey in about two cups of low-fat milk
- Same amount of casein can be found in one cup of Greek yogurt
- You could also try mixing your whey shake with a cup of mashed cottage cheese as a substitute
One of the most trusted sources components of muscle growth are the branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) that include leucine, isoleucine, and valine as the primary ingredients. Of these, leucine is the most critical for muscle growth as firstly it turns on muscle-protein synthesis in muscle cells which leads to increased muscle growth and secondly it helps increase blood insulin levels, an anabolic hormone that helps glucose, amino acids, and creatine reach muscle cells. An additional benefit of Leucine also includes its ability to decrease muscle protein breakdown and increase muscle-protein synthesis. In fact all three BCAA’s are vital as the muscles can use them as direct energy sources, especially during workouts, allowing you to train harder with less fatigue. Due to these benefits BCAAs are ideal to maintain the blood amino acid levels throughout the day to maximize gains.
Dose & Timing:
- 5 grams of BCAAs upon waking helps your body get into anabolic zone
- 5 grams within 30 minutes of starting your workouts helps energy levels
- 5 grams within 30 minutes after your workouts helps recovery & growth
5. Fast Carbs
The body uses glucose supplied by the stored glycogen within the muscle fibres as the primary source of energy when you begin the training. However, to continue the workout on a sustained basis it looks to other sources before it gets down to burning fat. Fat is the last resource point for the body and it could either resort to burning muscle protein or diminish your strength and workout intensity. So it becomes important to blend in a fast carb into your post workout recovery meal to restore the glycogen reserve immediately so that you are ready for the next workout without compromising on your energy levels. There are multiple options that people use for this including a product called Vitargo which is a very fast acting complex carb, followed by dextrose/glucose powder, gummy bears, white bread and white potatoes.
Dose & Timing: Include 40–60 grams of fast-digesting carbs within 30 minutes of completing your workout.