If you follow fitness accounts on Instagram, you’ll see the word supplementation, or supps, so you’ll start looking into what they are and how they can benefit your goals, and it can become quite a mind-field.
Athletes are sponsored by huge supplement companies and have to promote their products, it doesn’t mean you NEED that supplement to reach your goal. Supplements can benefit you, and help you achieve your goals, but they are not compulsory.
If you’re someone who’s on a budget but you’re favourite instagramer said you need protein powder, bcaa, fat burners, creatine, glutamine, pre workout, CLA, green tea etc.. you’ll end up spending a lot of money that’s not always needed.
Firstly, establish what your goal is, for example, say your goal is to lose body fat. Now let’s establish your previous nutrition and training, have you had a nutrition plan in place at all, or have you been just eating whatever whenever? If you’re the latter, you do not even need protein powder right now. You can simply increase your protein intake by adding protein roughly 20-25g per meal (body size dependent) from lean protein sources. You don’t need to overload yourself from the first instance. If you then find you need more protein you can then add a whey protein shake in after your workout or as a snack if you’re someone who doesn’t have time to fit another meal in then protein powder would be a great addition. Protein powder, is one of the more important supplements out of those named above so it will enhance your repair and recovery from your workouts, but initially it’s not compulsory. I would look into getting a protein powder if you feel your recovery is a little slow, and you’re feeling fatigued from training.
If you’re a complete beginner I do not believe you need a whole cupboard of supplements at all until you feel you’ve mastered the basics of following a balanced eating plan and a well -rounded training regime. Just by introducing resistance training, and a better nutrition plan you WILL see results.
Again, back to establishing your goal. If it’s fat loss, you may think you need a fat burner. Fat burners will NOT burn fat alone. Fat burners will simply, increase your core temperature (make you sweat more – when exercising) or supress your appetite. But the key factor is EXERCISE and NUTRITION PLAN. Do not take a fat burner to compensate for a poor diet.
Fat burners will benefit you, if you are someone with a large appetite, and just starting out on a structured eating plan where you are mindful of calorie intake. If this persists however, I’d look at increasing your portions slightly, you should not be starving yourself to the point of continued hunger. But it will help if you’re slightly peckish between meals.
Pre – workouts, they don’t seem to be much of a craze at the moment as they used to be. Pre-workouts are basically a caffeinated powder you drink before training for a boost of focus and energy. Some pre-workouts are high in calories, which regardless of your goal, whether it’s fat loss or not, there is no need for additional calories from pre-workouts. So that’s my first tip, zero calorie pre workout if you do want one (or pretty much less than 10 kcal per scoop). You will need to take breaks from pre-workouts to ensure your body does not become immune to the caffeine content of the pre workout. If you rely on a pre-workout to get you through a workout, I’d suggest looking into other factors such as how many hours of sleep you’re getting, are you eating enough to support your body and it’s functioning, vitamins and minerals incase your body is deficient in essential minerals and vitamins which may be compromising your energy levels.
Pre-workouts will be good occasionally if you just need that extra boost or focus in the gym, but don’t rely on them. I’d actually suggest saving your money and having a pre-workout black coffee!
BCAA, are branched chain amino acids, they include the amino acids we cannot get from food, these will help you recover better, but again, not compulsory. I didn’t take BCAA for around 9 months and noticed no difference. If you wish to add them in to see if they will help you recover better, I’d suggest drinking them through your workout or even on a rest day to further promote your recovery.
To summarise, you do not need an array of supplements to help you to see results, especially as a beginner. First master the basics, then consider adding in a protein powder and perhaps a BCAA powder during your workout. Fat burners serve their place, but have to be paired with a good diet plan.