Are you just beginning your fitness journey? Yes? Good. I understand that you must already be overwhelmed with all the training split days, making a nutrition plan by dividing macros properly, adjusting all these things in your already packed daily schedule, and so on. And,”What supplements to take?” – is the last question you want to figure out right now. Don’t worry, in this post, I’m going to make it very simple for you. I’ve complied a list of very basic 4 must-have supplements that can not only help you in meeting your daily nutritional needs, but will also help you recover from your workout and provide you energy for you next workout.
1. Must-have supplements – Whey Protein
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This is the most basic and most necessary supplement in your fitness journey. Whether your goal is to gain muscles, lose fat, gain strength or just aesthetics, you need protein to achieve your goal.
When you workout in the gym, your muscles break down. Now, to build up new, bigger and stronger muscle fibers, you need enough dosage of protein throughout the day. Coming to the dosage, for a fairly active person who does resistance training or heavy workout, 0.8 – 1 gram of protein per pound of lean body mass OR 2 – 2.2 grams of protein per kg of lean body mass is necessary.
Eg: If you’re a person with 100kg body weight and 20% body fat, your lean body mass comes around 100-20= 80kg. So, your daily protein requirement comes around 80×2=160grams.
It is fairly possible to consume your daily required protein from whole foods, which is an even better option. But, if that’s not possible for you or the food is too much, you can surely replace a meal with a serving of protein shake.
Another important factor is the timing. For optimum muscle growth, your body needs to increase its muscle protein synthesis. This can be achieved by having 25-30 grams of protein every 2-3 hours in a day, because every 25-30 grams of protein serving contains about 3 grams of leucine, a branched-chained amino acid, which is responsible for initiating muscle protein synthesis.
Bottom Line: If you can meet your daily protein requirements through whole foods like eggs, chicken, fish, etc. then it’s awesome. But, if you’re struggling there, then whey protein is at the top of the list of must-have supplements. Best time to have what protein is just after workout, when it is readily absorbed by body and yield great results.
2. Creatine Monohydrate
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Creatine monohydrate is probably the most studied and researched supplement there in the market. And its ability to increase performance, strength and muscle-mass – safely and effectively, has been proved. Whenever you try to lift heavy weight or run a sprint, or perform any heavy-intensity workout, your body relies on creatine stored in it. And supplementing with creatine monohydrate keeps the creatine stores full so that the body can use them frequently during workout. Researches have also proved that supplementing with creatine also improves muscle recovery and adaptation to training. Isn’t it just a magical supplement?
There are two ways to consume creatine:
- Consume 3-5 grams of creatine everyday, and after a month, your muscle cells will reach their full saturation.
- Consume 20 grams of creatine everyday for about a week, then get back to 3-5 grams per day dosage for maintenance. This method is called “Creatine Loading”.
Bottom Line: If you want to lift heavy and lift often, improve your strength and gain muscles, creatine monohydrate is a must-have supplement.
3. Must-have supplements – Multivitamins
While on a fitness journey and micromanaging the proteins, carbs and fats, we often tend to forget that there is whole bunch of nutrients that we’re missing out. These nutrients may not help you add muscles or increase your PR for a certain exercise, but they surely are important for maintaining overall good health. The solution is simple – start supplementing with a multivitamin.
Multivitamin supplements are economical, efficient and safe way to get all the nutrients that you might be missing out from your diet. Surely you can consume most of the vitamins and minerals from your diet if you consume a lot of fruits and vegetables, but again, for people struggling with their diet and nutrition, multivitamins is an easy option. Now, the pack contains all the information about dosage and nutritional value, so read carefully and make sure you consume only enough of what your body needs on a daily basis. Too much of anything could be dangerous.
Bottom Line: Training or not, our diet these days lack a lot of necessary nutritions. Supplementing with a multivitamin can be beneficial in getting all those missing nutrients and maintaining a healthy body.
Another wonder-substance out there in the market. Apart from waking you up in the morning, it can provide you sharp focus and concentration during workout and also increase your performance in cardio and weigh-training. Caffeine increases the brain-activity which makes you feel more aware of your surroundings and feel more energetic. It also helps in delaying fatigue during workout.
Most of the fat-burners and pre-workout supplements have caffeine in high quantity to provide you that extra kick and make you push harder during your workout.
For beginners like you, 100 mg serving of caffeine, 20-30 minutes before workout can do wonders. For people who are used to caffeine, dosage can be increased to 250-300 mg. Make sure your daily caffeine consumption doesn’t go past 400mg mark, or this wonder-substance could be fatal.
Bottom Line: Whether you want to pack on muscles or lose fat, caffeine can provide you that energy kick to perform that extra rep or run that extra mile, hence, this is another must have in your beginner’s stack.
So, these were 4 basic, but, must-have supplements that every beginner must have in their stack. A important point to note is that there is a myth that women aren’t supposed to consume these supplements as they hamper with their health. This is definitely not true.
Women are also required to meet their daily nutritional needs to maintain a healthy body. And it’s perfectly fine and healthy to consume these supplements if they fall short of their daily requirement.
Another point is that these are called “supplements” for a reason. They are supposed to be a supplement in your diet and make you achieve your daily nutritional value when you cannot do that with whole foods. That doesn’t mean you have to replace actual food with these supplements. That would be the biggest mistake you’d do to hamper you fitness journey.
So, try to consume as much nutrition as you can from whole foods, and when you fall short of your requirement, then add supplements in your diet.